Carter Murray, Worldwide CEO, FCB, talks about his expectations from Rohit Ohri who will don the role of Group Chairman and CEO (India) in January next year, speculations around talent moving from Dentsu to FCB. He also reacts to speculations around Satbir Singh, and talks about reasons for not wanting to make any revolutionary changes in to the agency in India. Excerpts:
What do you want to change on the business front in India?
For this market we are not making crazy margins but we are making fair margins. I want to grow but I don’t have any revolutionary ambitions or desires. I don’t have any pressures to double the size of the margin because if I push the margin too far I’ll start to destroy the company. I want Ulka to keep its size and scale. Yes, I do want to keep growing but I want to do that by focusing on the creative talent and product. A lot of the holding companies and networks today have been pushed into putting the numbers first.
What is the mandate given to Rohit Ohri as Group Chairman and CEO?
There are certain goals that I, as Global CEO look to deliver and I expect the same from all other CEOs including Rohit. One is to be able to retain and attract the very best talent in the industry. Through his leadership he needs to create a culture and ambition to attract and keep key talent.
He should have energy and passion for the creative business. Sometimes our industry follows trends, which is understandable but the core of what we do is creative work.
I am excited about Rohit coming on board because he is the right influx of talent and will give the right perspective to the team we have here and take Ulka on the next step of its journey. It is very different from a reinvention where you bring a team on board to completely change things. That’s not we have here. Here we have a successful agency and a strong culture.
Rohit is going to bring fresh energy and perspective to what is already an experienced energised team.
Will we be seeing a lot of movement of talent from Dentsu to FCB?
I have heard of a lot of speculation around this, but it’s untrue. Rohit needs to come onboard and see what the team is here. I assume he might want to bring one or two individuals onboard with him. Speculating on what Rohit will do is unfair to him.
What is your reaction on the speculation regarding Satbir’s ( Satbir Singh, Chief Creative Officer, FCB) exit?
This is unhealthy gossip which is being spoken about which is untrue, of course there is gossip when a large company appoints a CEO, but it is unhealthy and unfair to the people who come to work everyday, We are in a talent business and we need to treat people with respect. Satbir is a really creative guy and really respected and it is unfair that people are saying that. Rohit who is the new CEO coming on board is a grown up, a good leader and he will give everyone a chance.
As the Global CEO, I will, like for any new CEO, after 90 days, come here and ask for a plan and assessment of the team. We’ve put in place a rigorous HR so we know exactly where people are. So if he feels they’re in a different place then he will have to explain to us why. When you are in a talent business, there are checks and balances in place to make sure great people are taken care of.
How are you working to ‘up’ the agency’s creative quotient in India?
I have very big ambitions for FCB Ulka. With Rohit coming on-board along with some of the creative talent we have already, my challenge to them is how we can help our clients and work together with them to raise the profile of India on a global stage in the industry we are in.
Most countries have a belief, probably partially correctly that they have a rich vein of creativity and a right to be in the forefront of creativity. India is one of the few countries that has a natural birth-right for creativity and has a right to play a much bigger role on the global stage but I don’t think India does it nearly as much as it can currently.
Which other Indian agencies do you see doing good work in your view?
I think Lowe and Mcann have had a good reputation for a long time. We mainly look to our sister companies for competition. There are also one or two boutique companies that have started, from which I think more and more of the competition will come, in the future.
Are there key areas that the industry needs to work on from a creative perspective?
There is opportunity in art and design, to elevate the level of advertising. With creativity you have to take lateral leaps and I think there’s a cultural environment in which we can do that even more here.