Delhi offers a gamut of business opportunities for the advertising fraternity – perhaps the most in the country in recent times. Every ad agency worth its salt has a presence in the National Capital. In some cases – JWT is a case in point -- the Delhi branch is larger than its Mumbai counterpart in terms of business. Yet, Delhi has failed to evolve as `the’ advertising city of India.
We don’t mean to take away the shine from the Mumbai advertising world. The point is that Delhi has somehow been unable to carve a bigger niche and perception for itself in the industry. Something, somewhere appears to be holding it back.
Prasoon Joshi of McCann Erickson has made the leap from Delhi to Mumbai and keeps shuttling between the two cities. He argues that the reason for Delhi not being seen as ‘the’ ad city is owing to lack of infrastructure and the attitude and culture of people which are strongly influenced by the Capital’s `babudom’.
Said Joshi, “The centre of advertising is the creative talent which is readily available in Mumbai. This doesn’t mean that Delhi has a dearth of talent. But in a scenario where one wants to discuss a creative idea, especially with filmmakers and technicians, it can be easily done in Mumbai. In the case of Delhi it would require getting onto a flight to Mumbai as the former lacks in infrastructure.”
The lack of infrastructure is also pointed by Gullu Sen of Dentsu India who feels that “advertising is heavily dependent on infrastructure, especially those in Bollywood for films, and Mumbai obviously scores”.
Joshi and Sen’s views are dittoed by Hari Krishnan, Branch Head, Grey Worldwide Delhi. “All allied professionals such as those in production houses, filmmakers, etc., reside in Mumbai. This enables the fraternity to interact with creative professionals beyond advertising and facilitates exchange of ideas. The missing chain in advertising who work on producing the final product inhibits Delhi from seeing itself as the ‘advertising city’ in India,” he said.
Rohit Ohri, Senior Vice-President, JWT, argued that historically Mumbai is where all the advertising agencies are headquartered and by virtue of that “the top management or decision-makers reside there, leaving Delhi with a poor cousin status”.
Agreeing with Ohri, Grey’s Krishnan said, “With the decision-makers mostly in Mumbai, it leaves Delhi looking at Mumbai for all their approvals.”
Echoing these sentiments is Charu Bakshi, Delhi Branch Head, Law & Kenneth, who is of the opinion that the “mindset and environment” are two factors that are probably responsible for the current state of affairs in Delhi’s advertising circuit. She elaborated, “By mindset I mean that we haven’t been able to shrug the branch office hangover and have got used to living under the shadow of Mumbai. So we don’t have enough conviction that on our own we can create a space exclusive to Delhi’s advertising fraternity.”
She continued, “Second, the environment has failed to do anything to bring together and nurture talent. Delhi is always seen as the stepping-stone to the final destination that is Mumbai. We have to come together to create icons in Delhi whom the younger generation can look up to.”
It is not that efforts have not been taken to bring the advertising fraternity together in Delhi but somehow things haven’t materialized. Lack of a platform or forum for the fraternity to meet and interact outside work is largely responsible for Delhi advertising’s dismal state of affairs. Even when an opportunity arrives to interact such as awards, their organization leaves much to be desired. As a result, most of the top guns show a reluctance to show up for it.
There have been initiatives in the past to bring together the ad clan. Prathap Suthan, National Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, had thought on these lines five years back -- it didn’t work. But he is positive that if he tried something like this today, chances are much better of “things falling in place”.
Suthan has an explanation on why the Delhi ad fraternity would rather remain isolated than come together. He said, “There is a lack of sense of community and one reason for this is that there are so many insecurities within us. Add to that the huge ego of advertising people. Small wonder that we can’t come together. If you go out drinking with a senior person of some other agency, it’s immediately perceived as a move to the other agency.”
Suthan also adds that there is constant pressure of guarding one’s business interest, which prevents one from opening up beyond a certain point with people of other agencies.
Interestingly, Krishnan shares Suthan’s view on “secrecy” to protect business interests. “It’s a fact that the number of pitches in Delhi is very high. So, in such a scenario where one is constantly competing with each other for business, it’s difficult to feel a sense of community. The competition is not a healthy one when one is competing not to do a good piece of work but to acquire a business for sheer survival,” he said.
The Delhi Advertising Club, it appears, has not played its part in getting Delhi its due. As a member on the panel of DAC pointed out, “the club, which is run by INS people, needs participation of senior advertising professionals to get it going”. DAC holds an odd quiz show besides an awards function which, according to most of those we spoke to, was “haphazardly managed”.
All the industry veterans pointed out that the Mumbai the Ad Club as well as AAAI, besides holding various sought after awards, conducts workshops by senior ad professionals for people in the industry as well as youngsters on a regular basis.
More in Part 2 tomorrow.