The last weekend was an interesting one for the Dentsu Aegis Network to say the least.The Japanese network bagged the media duties for Mondelez International for the APAC region and others including North America. Back home, in India, its account size is pegged at around Rs 500 crore, the brand operates in categories like chocolate, beverages, biscuits, gum and candy, and is indeed a sweet win for the Dentsu Aegis Network.
The Group is very keen on sustaining its momentum on increasing its market share. “We have been able to grow our market share by growing three times as much as the market,” shares Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network.
New wins undoubtedly translate to new hires, and the group is looking at a lot of new hires across levels.
Does this mean a movement of talent from the incumbent agency in India Madison?
“We right now have a lot of good talent coming to us so we will hire as is suitable. At the moment Dentus Aegis is turning out to be the most preferred agency in the business,” he quipped. He also believes that the one P&L strategy has worked very well for the network, while competitors have been busy in silos.
“When I joined we had 45 people. Before the end of this calendar year we will have 2000 people. Considering attrition, we must have hired 2500 to 3000 people over the past year.Our story as a group is gaining a different perspective. Earlier, everyone was a bit indulgent,but now they are taking notice. Most of our hiring is happening in Digital where most of the growth is,” he added.
The aggressive hiring is a reflection of the wins of the group this year which include Nokia, Microsoft, General Motors, Mastercard and Sony.
Excerpts from a brief chat with Ashish Bhasin:
On the Revenue Targets for the Group in India this year…
We expect the Group to do about Rs 3500 crore of billing, which is very significant landmark. Out of Rs 3500 crore almost Rs 1500 crore to Rs 1800 crore has been from accounts brought in over the last 12-18 months.
On how Mondelez is a game changer for DAN in India …
We’ve had a brilliant run of wins over the last year. Nokia, Microsoft, General Motors, Mastercard and Sony etc.
Coincidently or otherwise, most of them had come into Delhi so this gives us a big impetus for our operations in the West.
Second thing is, Mondelez’s is one of the most awarded high profile advertisers so it is great to win an account through which we will get the opportunities to do great work. They have been one of the clients who have been consistently doing good work in the industry.
On the Dentsu Aegis Network’s goal of becoming the number 2 network agency …
We are very seriously looking at that as our goal which we now might be able to achieve before the end of 2017. It will be overturning 80 years of history so to speak. For the past 80 years in India, the No. 1 and 2 positions have been consistently between WPP and IPG. HTA entered India somewhere in the 1920s and Lintas entered in the 30s or so and since that time, the top two positions have been the same.
For us to come from nowhere and in a short span of five years over turn everything is great.
On the one P&L strategy being a deal clincher …
The client is fed up of talking to 50 different people for 50 different services. They want one place they can go to for all their requirements and thanks to our one P&L system we make that possible. Fortunately for us, our competitors are so busy with their silos that they are not able to offer the same. I just hope that we don’t fall into the same trap as we grow. I believe that if we can make sure that our one P&L service is available to clients then I don’t see why we can’t grow ten times as big in a few years.
Scale comes with its own challenges and as you grow bigger it becomes more difficult. Because of this one P&L philosophy we have linked each other’s destinies. For example if outdoor does well but TV doesn’t, then the bonus is not dependent on one sector but on the overall India business. This encourages people to work as a team, help the weaker sections and cross sell.
On tackling the challenges of scale as the network grows bigger …
When you’re growing this rapidly, you need to see that your systems and processes keep pace. One way to keep being successful is to keep removing talent which may not be aligned or may not be of the same excellent quality as you might expect them to be. This is something that we have been and will continue to be ruthless about.
There is no rocket science in this business and you just have to get this right, which is something that most agencies are unable to do well.
One of the other good stories about us is the fact that we are able to bring together a number of services under one umbrella whether it is Digital, Events and Social Media among others. We realised that together we can achieve much more than as individual teams. If all 2000 people can look and work in the same direction there is no other direction than to go forward. But if any of them pull in different directions then overall growth slows down.