DDB Mudra is in the news for the wrong reasons currently as industry sources indicate that around 25 employees have left the agency across verticals in the last week, and another 25 are expected to leave within two months.
The most recent leadership exit was that of Mandeep Malhotra as President and Head, DDB MudraMax - OOH, experiential business, and retail cluster, leading to a re-alignment of leadership yesterday morning.
To no one’s surprise all the exited employees are rumoured to be joining Pratap Bose(Mudra former COO, who created news with his exit last April) and Mandeep Malhotra’s new venture. Industry sources point out that this exodus was inevitable, after Pratap Bose resigned from DDB Mudra last year, but given his no poaching agreement for one year, this took a while in coming.
The duo will be launching a conglomerate of agencies servicing all communication verticals including shopper marketing, digital, outdoor, media buying and planning, rural, retail, experiential, branded content, entertainment and more.
The aim behind the clutch of agencies is to bring in specialists and deliver better results for clients.
Pratap Bose confirmed that the exits from Mudra would be joining him.
Does Bose expect Mudra’s client roster to have a shake-up in confidence given such a large number of exits in such a short period?
“Communications is a people’s business, people work with people they are comfortable with, and it may be expected given the significant exit of employees,” Bose replied.
“The DDB Mudra Group is an organisation of 1000 people, across 10 agencies. And this is excluding the 10,000 field marketing agents we have on ground, for various clients. There have been resignations in only one of our agencies i.e. OOH, which forms only 10-12% of our group revenue. They have the freedom to join or not join whoever they want to,” said Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO & Managing Director, DDB Mudra Group, commenting on the exits.
On Mudra exits joining the duo’s new venture, Mandeep Malhotra commented, “People who believe in good work will join us. It could be from Mudra or any other leading agency in the communications space.”
On clients who may choose to leave DDB Mudra and join the duo’s conglomerate, Malhotra says, “Clients are smart. They will gauge the value proposition; they maybe Mudra or non-Mudra clients.”
With respect to the new endeavour, Malhotra added, “I am truly in favour of the Make in India concept, and working towards genuine client benefits instead of chasing monthly / quarterly agency revenue targets. I am very excited about our new venture.”
The conglomerate will also be looking at new acquisitions in order to offer clients holistic as well as specialist communication solutions.
“Every year out of our total strength of 1000 employees, we have a 15% attrition. This is across different levels - of which 5% is forced attrition, entirely based on performance. Currently we are hiring around 120 people across the DDB Mudra Group. This includes DDB Mudra West, North, and South & East, Rapp, Remedy, 22Feet Tribal, TracyLocke and our 3 DDB MudraMax businesses (Media, Out-of-Home and Experiential). When there is such an encouraging influx of talent, there is no need to talk about exits,” says Kamath on impending exits.
“I look at this as a minor blip which we are very well-equipped to take care of. We remain unaffected as long as the core team is intact. If there are any ridiculous claims that the DDB Mudra Group can be affected by pulling a few people from just one business, it’s a gross generalisation. Something to have a good laugh about,” said Kamath when questioned about his view on the turn of events.
Meanwhile, the impact of these developments on the agency, remains to be seen. Industry sources confirm that Mudra Max revenues constitute 50% of DDB Mudra’s top and bottom line revenues, and it is expected that these revenues will be severely hit with the departure of its key divisional heads.
Will this development indeed shake client confidence is something that remains to be seen.