Mike Khanna, the high-profile CEO of India's largest advertising agency J Walter Thompson, has finally called it a day. In the wake of this development, Colvyn Harris, President, Contract, a JWT sister agency, is stepping into Khanna's shoes.
Speculation had been doing the rounds in the industry for some time that Harris was being groomed to succeed Khanna at JWT. Harris, a veteran in the group, has been with them for 24 years and served in several leadership positions both internationally and in India with JWT and Contract Advertising. He has a wide experience having worked on a host of global and national brands.
Jagdip Bakshi, currently Senior Vice-president and General Manager of JWT Delhi, the largest JWT office in India, has been promoted as CEO, Contract Advertising. Bakshi has been with the company for 24 years, and was previously Global Business Manager on Unilever at JWT London.
Meanwhile, JWT is setting up another agency, Conquest Advertising, to be headed by Kamal Oberoi, who is currently President, JWT India. Also, Rohit Ohri, the successful leader of JWT’s largest client-brand Pepsi for over six years, and currently Senior VP and Area Director, replaces Bakshi as General Manager, JWT Delhi.
After having successfully led the company for the last 20 years, Khanna is being appointed to the position of Chairman Emeritus with effect from January 2005. After being the CEO for nearly two decades, Khanna received a two-year extension as chairman in 2002. On the developments, Khanna said, “Over the years I have watched Colvyn and Jagdip develop into leaders and watched them building strong brands and robust businesses. I have every confidence in their ability to take these agencies to new heights in the future.”
Commenting on Khanna’s retirement, Michael Maedel, Worldwide President, JWT, said, “Mike is a shining example of one of those rare leaders who have transformed JWT India into one of the finest agency groups worldwide. JWT has been No. 1 in India for 75 years and under Mike’s leadership has helped build some of India’s most trusted brands. It is a testament to his leadership skills that we have such fine talent to take over the reins of the company”.
Just as the agency gets a new CEO, so does it get a new regional structure announced by JWT. India, one of the key worldwide markets for JWT, will now report to Patrick Pitcher, Area Director, JWT Asia Pacific South, an area comprising 14 countries covering India, Central Asia, South-East Asia and Australia. Both Harris and Bakshi will be appointed to the new Asia Pacific Executive Board, consisting of top executives from around the region.
“Patrick Pitcher, formerly Chief Executive of Saatchi & Saatchi Asia Pacific, has an excellent track record of managing and building creative agencies, and his skills will be an added bonus to JWT’s established brand building reputation,” Maedel observed.