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Noorings: Why Dnyanada Chaudhari’s move to ZO is significant

18-January-2010
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Noorings: Why Dnyanada Chaudhari’s move to ZO is significant

Advertising may have been the best fun with one’s clothes on, but many say not anymore… In any case, this was first said when media agencies were still a backroom function in ad agencies. Over the years, creative agencies stopped doing whatever it was that made them attractive to new talent, and media agencies never really began doing anything that would have made them a clear choice for those who still looked at advertising as their career option.

The bottomline, talent has been a burning issue with agencies for some time now, and industry leaders do take the blame for this situation.

The last couple of years had seen media service brands lose senior talent – Maxus’ head CVL Srinivas, Mindshare’s Sundar Raman, Lodestar Universal’s Arpita Menon, MPG’s Jeffrey Crasto, and Lintas Media Group’s Sai Nagesh, to name a few. In fact, one of the concerns that media visionaries like Lodestar Universal’s Shashi Sinha, Madison’s Sam Balsara and Mindshare’s Ashutosh Srivastava have been quoted on time and again is the loss of senior talent from the business.

There were the occasional exceptions – like MEC’s T Gangadhar coming in from a channel or even when NP Sathyamurthy had joined Carat from a research company – but one development that has created quite a stir in this New Year was Dnyanada Chaudhari’s move to ZenithOptimedia as its MD for West and South.

Not that media service brands didn’t have much news – in fact, many agencies held on to developments in late 2009 to announce in 2010. Starcom Worldwide winning Educomp, OMD India winning Multi Screen Media, and Vizeum winning iPlayupCricket were essentially developments that were sealed last year.

For that matter, so was Dnyanada Chaudhari’s move to ZenithOptimedia, but in typical advertising industry style, the news was “not true” till the agency heads believed it was the “right time to talk”. Though I have been around for a while, I still do not understand the “right time” or “untrue until press note is sent” concept… That though is a different discussion…

Coming back to Chaudhari, prior to joining ZenithOptimedia, she was with Hindustan Unilever, heading its media services. When Chaudhari had taken that role in December 2007, it was the talk of the town for various reasons. In October 2008, HUL had brought in Srikanth Srinivasamadhavan as General Manager, Media Services.

In the later part of 2009, Chaudhari made a quiet exit from HUL and told most of us, well at least us at that time, that “there is nothing to talk about right now”. What makes her move to ZO interesting is that Chaudhari has left the country’s single largest advertiser and had then decided to join a media agency. For those who worry that media agencies are not attracting the right talent, this is an important move.

Maybe this would be one of the unusual kinds, maybe this may not lead to more professionals from the clients’ side, or from the media side, looking at media service brands seriously, but it is a switch one cannot miss.

Media service brands ended 2009 well. Where creative agencies still depended on awards to be their big news, media service brands saw developments and evolution. And 2010 has begun on a good note too – in the usual ways like new businesses and in unusual ways like senior industry talent choosing media service brands. The key obviously is to retain the talent and attract more, and the good thing is that media agency heads are aware of the challenge, and do claim that they are working on it.

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