There has been immense speculation on Ravi Deshpande’s next move since the news of him stepping down as Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Contract Advertising in April, following which Deshpande ended his long tenure with the agency in June this year.
Putting an end to all the rumours of him joining a larger agency in India or taking on a Asia Pacific role, Deshpande has launched an integrated communications agency called ‘Whyness Worldwide’.
The agency will be officially launched today.
Whyness has strategic partnerships in place with Findability Sciences and Seenk, Paris. In addition, the agency will also use talented graduates from Ecole Intuit Lab to add fresh perspective to design.
“With Findability Sciences, we will use their expertise of turning Big Data into a smart data; our alliance with Seenk, Paris will add more value to our thinking in design,” observed Deshpande.
With these associations, the agency aims to address brand challenges with solutions that combine human insights, creativity, design and technology, and bridge the gap between traditional and digital agencies.
Deshpande has had an interesting and illustrious career spanning 22 years. He began in journey in advertising in 1985 in the art department at Clarion (now Bates Chi and Partners) Mumbai, and then moved on to Ogilvy and Mather.
He has been the key architect in building Contract and its brands, which includes Shopper’s Stop, Cadbury, NIIT, to name a few.
In a freewheeling chat, Deshpande talks exclusively to exchange4media on his new venture.
What made you leave Contract when you were at the peak of your career?
After a long career you could become a known and respected face in the business and behave like a guru. But then the danger is that you could get complacent and slowly slip into a maintenance job – maintenance of revenue, maintenance of creativity, maintenance of people, maintenance of relationships, maintenance of agency ranking and so on, and in the process you stop to innovate.
Or, you could say wait, I am going to be foolish all over again. And I am going to walk a new path. I just chose the latter.
It was a combination of a desire to reinvent myself, modify and lift the game, to stay relevant and evolve towards some fresh thinking.
I wanted to create a truly integrated company that brings strategy, creativity, design and technology together. This way, I knew I would contribute more to the business. And hence, I decided to start Whyness.
Why the name ‘Whyness’?
Well, defining a problem sharply is halfway to finding the right answer. Great work usually happens when we take a problem by its horns, and ask the question “why”. From the reply, emerge more questions. Which when answered, give rise to more questions.
Until finally, we have narrowed down the problem, cornered it, pinned it to the wall and left no room for it to escape. No room for more questions.
On such a clean slate, the problem lies clear, waiting to be solved.
This, we believe is the perfect condition to deliver great work; hence, the name ‘Whyness’.
Is it the right time for an agency like Whyness?
In India, there is always a feeling that we are in the process of getting there. We are developing, but not quite there yet. So we usually postpone doing things that are innovative and sophisticated. Because we always feel that its time has not yet come.
I asked myself if the idea behind Whyness is a bit ahead of its time here in India. But I felt that if we didn’t do it now, it might be too late.
I also thought it was the right time because every marketer around the world feels the need to integrate disciplines when it comes to communication. But there aren’t many agencies that successfully manage this integration. Of course, there are ‘digital’ agencies, and there are what you call ‘traditional’ agencies. But, you rarely hear of agencies that bridge the gap, and do so successfully.