The last quarter of 2011 has seen JWT India focus on re-strengthening its team, with specific focus on its creative and digital talent. The latest recruitment for the agency has been none other than Mudra’s CCO, Bobby Pawar, who has come on board as Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner, JWT India. In this new position, he will spearhead the creative product and ensure delivery of the agency's creative vision. As JWT gears for 2012, it is working on a seamless structure - the creative idea at the centre, surrounded by delivery across the specialist skills and services; where the combined creative talent of JWT India, across its six offices, can be leveraged for specific client tasks.
The agency has also elevated three of its ECDs – Tista Sen, Senthil Kumar and Swati Bhattacharya to the roles of National Creative Directors. Swati has been given additional charge of the Delhi branch too. All NCDs will report to Pawar.
A Full Year
JWT began the year with its fair share of complexities. First, PepsiCo added another agency, TapRoot, to its roster. The agency was then faced with the exit of old hand Rohit Ohri. Soon after, Airtel took some of its business to TapRoot.
JWT’s hiring spree intensified mid-2011. Commenting on the thought process behind the recent spate of appointments, Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT India, said, “We are stocking up on the best of talent India has to offer. We are identifying areas of specialisation, where we need to reinforce our current management bandwidth. The big change is how we get the breadth given the scale and size of opportunities we see.”
He further said, "We are here to deliver on the highest ambitions of our client and categories, most of them being leaders in their respective categories.”
In a bid to fill in the gaps and augment the strength of its Delhi office, JWT appointed Sanjeev Bhargava as Managing Partner for JWT Delhi. This was immediately followed by the appointment of Nutan Sooda as Executive Business Director on the Airtel business.
Jaideep Mahajan, who was the Creative Head of Rediffusion in Delhi, was appointed as the ECD on Sony India and PepsiCo flavours at the agency. The agency also hired Ashish Goyal, from Future Group as Head of Finance in its Delhi office. Bindu Sethi is expected to join the agency soon in its Planning function. Sethi comes from Grey.
On new media engagement, Harris pointed out the importance of building digital capabilities in the agency. He said, “Digital is going to be embedded across all our businesses. The biggest impact, and therefore a huge opportunity area for us, is social media and how we make our brands more relevant to the youth market.”
Another key appointment for JWT was in the form of Max Hegerman, who came from Tribal DDB to head the digital practice of the agency. Hegerman is also based in Delhi.
The Mumbai office appointed Tina Sachdeva as Vice President – Creative, reporting to JWT Mumbai's Creative Head, Tista Sen. Prior to this, Sachdeva was ECD at Rediffusion Y&R. Jennifer Rieglar, who comes from Austria, has been appointed as Vice President of Strategic Planning, also in the Mumbai office.
In Kolkata, JWT hired Ashwini Dhingra as Vice President. He was with Euro RSCG before this.
The acquisition of Mindset in Hyderabad added more senior talent to JWT India in the form of Santha John, Ram Gedela and Anwar Ali Khan.
Of Creating a Seamless Structure
At present, JWT India employs almost 300 heads in its creative function, but as Harris pointed out, they are all not in one place. “The idea is to create a platform, where the right talent for the required task can be accessed, irrespective of the market. If you take the six offices as one, the agency should be able to pick the best resources, the best skill for the required task. We need a seamless structure,” he said.
According to Harris, this seamless platform will play a key role in ensuring that JWT addresses the challenges it had faced on its key advertisers such as PepsiCo and Airtel. He elaborated, “We had our share of complexities - given our scale - on certain clients and to address that, we are strengthening our entire creative team. We are restructuring to provide a seamless capabilities platform of talent, so that even if a particular market may not have the skills, the teams would be able to access them across the country.”
Harris admitted that instances such as PepsiCo and Airtel were a blow to the agency. He said, “As an agency, it challenges our passion, our purpose, because we are committed to these clients. These things affect us and therefore we are addressing them, so that it does not repeat itself. With any client, it is what you bring to bear on the business and it's all about the work. We have to be sure that the strategy we put out and the work we have done, is better than anything else clients can get in the market. That is the vision and that is what we have to deliver irrespective of what the past has done for us.
(With inputs from Deepika Bhardwaj)