Kartik Sharma, MD, Maxus South Asia talks about winning 26 new clients and 120+ awards in 2014, significant leadership changes within the agency, and the way forward for Maxus in 2015.
How has the agency leaned into change this past year, in other words what are the significant changes you brought about post taking over leadership role last year ?
2014 has been a fantastic & dream year for Maxus. We started the year by strengthening our senior leadership teams. Early in 2014 Sanchayeeta Verma was promoted as Managing Partner South and South Asia. Other promotions included the elevation of Pratik Rathod to handle overall buying for Maxus & Kishankumar Shyamalan as General Manager for South. We also added fresh talent across various offices. Notable amongst these were Anand Chakravarthy who took over as Head of West followed by Navin Khemka joining us as Managing partner for our North India operations with additional responsibility for growing new business. We also got on board Monaz Toddywalla as General Manager for one of our key SBU.
A lot of emphasis also went on launching new products. These included the launch of Resolve, our bespoke planning tool which is backed by robust consumer surveys & helps planners to make channel neutral decisions. By the middle of the year we launched Moribus a first of its kind behavioural science lab in APAC in exclusive alliance with Bombay University’s Center for Computational Social Science.
Our focus on digital continued with teams delivering cutting edge solutions to clients through the year. We also had several internal initiatives where our planners got trained to become integrated planners. The results so far have been very good.
Can you share the business wins of 2014 the last report which by mid year was Rs 300 crore?
The last year has been a stellar year for new business. We closed the year by winning close to Rs 400 crores of new business. We added 26 new clients to our roster.
2014 has been an interesting year for Maxus India with retaining Vodafone and losing Nokia to a global alignment, what have been the highlights of the year in your view ?
Vodafone is a key client and we are extremely thrilled to have retained it. We have a deep bond with Vodafone since the hutch days & personally for me I have handled the brand right from the days when it was Orange.
On Nokia we have had a long & fruitful association. The Nokia move out of Maxus has been due to global realignment & we have to respect it.
Apart from the Vodafone retention 2014 was a great year for us on the awards front. Overall we won more than 120+ awards. The Emvies agency of the year was very gratifying feat which we have been eyeing for several years. We also won the agency of the year at Campaign South Asia – India sub region, the Big Bang and we dominated all the digital awards.
Our focus on analytics also helped us win the data analytics innovation awards at the Asian Marketing Effectiveness Awards, the only agency to win from India and also a merit at the Atticus, a global competition across WPP companies for original thinking. Last but not the least we ended the year by winning the “Crème De La Crème” at the WPP’s prestigious award called the WPPED Cream awards for our work on Tata Tea’s Power of 49.
Maxus has created Digital Accelerated Social Hub (DASH) for Nestle. Are there any similar initiatives for clients on similar lines?
Yes we are in various stages of discussion with several clients & also nearing closing a few more customized initiatives. You will hear more of this in 2015.
How do you ensure growth, ensuring the culture is intact as a leader at the helm of Maxus?
I have said this earlier too. We never take our position for granted and work hard towards delivering a great product for our clients. To ensure that our culture is intact we start from the beginning i.e. in the recruitment stage itself. We look for PACE (Passionate, Agile Collaborative & Entrepreneurial) qualities in people. We also give lot of freedom to our people and back them to deliver the best for our clients. We have both formal town halls & informal meetings regularly with teams where we share information and also listen to their feedback and implement many of the ideas.
To me growth is a natural outcome of allowing our teams to do their best every single day.
What can we expect from Maxus in 2015?
In 2015 we will be strengthening and consolidating from the previous year. Our key focus areas will be :
• To continue to deliver client delight every single day
• To launch several cutting edge products through the year. We will be launching our first product for this year by end of January. We are also increasing our focus on improving effectiveness & have planned many initiative around the same
• To strengthen our digital products and offer up full service solutions to all our clients and also launch DASH type initiatives for several clients as mentioned earlier
• To execute many new content led projects not as a one-off but on a sustained basis
• To see a few clients use our technology enabled solutions via Metalworks. We see several of our clients getting more interested in this offering and Metalworks has some great solutions which address client challenges. We would like to see at least 3 to 4 large projects to be executed in 2015.