Rediffusion - Y&R believes in the popular saying, “Ideas travel seamlessly across boundaries”. Reinforcing the belief in globally recognised talent, the agency recently appointed Sam Ahmed as the Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer and Komal Bedi Sohal as the National Creative Director. Producing refreshing ideas and superior quality product, making Rediffusion the top creative agency remains the vision of the creative duo.
Many would ask what Ahmed’s style of working is. He believes in challenging conventions and setting a culture without rules. A result-oriented strategy, rather than a process-driven approach can redefine the rules of the game. Wanting to set up a 24X7 working culture, Ahmed has started refreshing the office by redecorating it with a lounge for people to spend time, hang around and crack interesting ideas.
He wants to change the format of the agency by reducing the creative-management divide and maintain a balance between the creative as well as business fronts. “The job of management is to create latitude for the creative to come up with wonderful and fantastic ideas for the clients. It has started happening and the focus is to craft the best creative product. Translating a brief into enduring ideas is of supreme importance,” he said.
Some believe that Rediffusion is the agency that has lost its glory, while some call it ‘the troubled agency’ with the agency’s biggest account losses such as Colgate and Airtel and the exit of giants such as D Rajappa, N Padmakumar, Ramanuj Shastry, Jaideep Mahajan, Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, Mahesh Chauhan and Meenakshi Achan. However, Ahmed being optimistic believes that several agencies have seen tough times and it is just the last of couple years which is like five per cent of the time the agency has been around. “The agency has taken a step backwards to re-evaluate the future and we are sorted and in good phase right now,” he stated.
Ahmed wants to bring back the fearlessness in advertising that is fading away. He feels that a person is not afraid if he has big ideas. “Working hard, knowing the client’s need, understanding the consumer and delivering to the brief gives that fearlessness,” he added. He strongly disagrees with the views of the experts that it is a one horse race for Rediffusion and that horse is Tata. “I wish that would have been the case. We have a lot of clients as of now. I have been in the process for just two months and there is a lot of work in development now. It is probably going to hit the air waves by late next month,” he said.
Being in charge of the creative product at Y&R Dubai and working on brands such as Ford, P&G, Nestle, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive, Citibank, Skoda, Land Rover, Jaguar, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Apple and World Gold Council, with over 200 international awards, he shared that awards are not the most important thing. “For me, consumer is most important, followed by client and Cannes,” he said.
The agency has appointed Komal Bedi Sohal as the National Creative Director two days ago. On the appointment, Ahmed said, “If you are exposed globally, you get to learn a lot from different countries, nationalities and people. We want to bring that experience of working globally here in India, which made us appoint Sohal, who is brilliant, fierce and a compassionate leader.”
Sohal will be based out of Rediffusion’s head office in Mumbai. Prior to joining Rediffusion, Sohal spent the last 11 years abroad, with her last assignment being Executive Creative Director (ECD) for Lowe Middle-East and North Africa, based out of Dubai.
On being asked how different is India in terms of the work culture from Dubai, she said that there are spectacular differences as well as some really sublime similarities. When it comes to differences, India is not one monolithic concept. There are many ‘Indias’ within these borders. “The diversity and perceptual burst of colour, sounds, and sights are astounding. There are many ‘Indias’ with several different aspirations, dreams, and fears. In contrast, Dubai is not as granular, even though, within its own context, Dubai is also melting pot of cultures, with over 108 nationalities living and working together,” she explained.
India is beautifully layered with many different contexts. And the challenge for a good communicator here is to first see the various layers of context that people live with in this country – and then speak directly to what matters to them at an individual level. Having said that, the common bonds are the sublime ones of human nature – the same things that make us all smile or weep or desire or reach out. “I am excited about the various perspectives I can dabble with, given my experience and the new environment that I am in now,” added Sohal.
Talking about the working style that she will adopt in the India market, she said that the aim is to create ideas that are strategically sound, that create lasting impact, that are iconic, and executed beautifully. “Especially, the art side of advertising in India needs a major boost. We need to bring the love and the detailing back into advertising. We will work long and hard with our heads and our hearts,” she passionately stated.
“We want to do brave work for brave clients. And we have all the tools – from a world-class strategic planning team and cutting-edge proprietary consumer insights to a world-class creative department. Now, the push is to produce spectacular creative work that is also strategically sound and produce these for clients who are looking to make a meaningful difference to get a global tone to their brands,” she added.
On being quizzed on how she was planning to fill the void created by N Padmakumar, Sohal said, “I'm not here to fill any voids past or present. I'm here to look at Indian advertising with a fresh perspective and to raise the ante of the creative product. It's time to look forward not backward.”