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Will Saatchi & Saatchi and Law & Kenneth join hands?

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Will Saatchi & Saatchi and Law & Kenneth join hands?

Love is truly in the air as the cupid has struck performers and survivors, and yet again another Indie is likely to lose its bachelorhood. One of the largest independents agencies, Law & Kenneth, is likely to join hands with Saatchi & Saatchi for a big joint Publicis Omnicom family. Highly placed sources have also shared that Law & Kenneth might take over Saatchi’s management, which will be a game-changer in the history of the Indies.

However, Praveen Kenneth, Chairman and Managing Director, Law & Kenneth and Matt Seddon, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi, India, were unavailable for comments.

It is believed that while many big ventures have been lone initiatives, most of them have along the way aligned themselves with partners. Sometimes big initiatives need expert partners to take them to another level. Each partner brings to the table its own unique expertise, which amalgamates into a successful enterprise fast tracking growth and expansion.

Not much time has lapsed since the much debated Publicis – Omnicom merger; quite naturally the talk of globe with its sheer size and scale of over $30 billion, the merger was positioned as a ‘merger of equals’.  The new entity includes in its sparkling new kitty BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB, Leo Burnett, TBWA, Razorfish, Publicis Worldwide, Fleishman-Hillard, DigitasLBi, Ketchum, StarcomMediaVest, OMD, BBH, Interbrand, MSL Group, RAPP, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG), Proximity, Rosetta, CDM, ZenithOptimedia, and Goodby and Silverstein & Partners, among others.

What now seems like a sequel to the merger saga is the development of Law and Kenneth joining hands with Saatchi & Saatchi. Though this coming together of the two agencies has been speculated upon for the past few months, it only adds to the strength to Publicis Group.

Publicis Group in India has been on a very conscious growth strategy of building a stronger base, which was started with bringing on board Bobby Pawar from JWT to strengthen the Group’s creative offering and Partha Sinha from BBH India to solidify the strategic planning function.

In today’s crunched economic scenario, a merger definitely adds to the collective strength of a group, providing a definitive punch by taking the advantage of scale to a whole new level.  But what will be the result of the partnership of these ‘unequals’?

The birth of a hero
They are young, they are free and they are masters of their destinies. With the irresistible desire for creative freedom, the young Publicis India CEO Praveen Kenneth, along with Andy Law and investment support from Bodyshop’s Anita Roddick, took over St Luke’s India operations and formed Law and Kenneth – as one of the first Indian independent agencies with a global footprint.

These Davids have fought with the Goliaths and bagged some of the biggest clients such as Hero Motocorp, ITC, Renault and Dabur, to name a few. Right from scripting the identity re-launch of Hero Motocorp One and giving the nation a new chant of self belief – ‘Hum mein hai Hero’ to spearheading ITC's entry into the personal care category, Law & Kenneth is the creator of some of the best ideas. But is the agency getting a decent global mileage?

Jolts and jerks
Globally Saatchi & Saatchi is a hothouse for world changing creative ideas and must have lovemarked clients, but in India the story is very different. The agency is on a losing-streak right from businesses to people. The agency functions with top clients such as P&G, HCL Tablets and Carlsberg. It has lost many big ticket clients to other agencies.

It may be recalled that in 2012 the agency witnessed the exit of the Chief Creative Officer, Ramanuj Shastry, who was the brainchild behind several successful campaigns for OLX, Springwell and Skoda India. The agency saw exit of its CEO, Kamal Basu and the entry of Matt Seddon. Sourabh Mishra, the Chief Strategy Officer, also moved on from Saatchi & Saatchi India to join Bates CHI & Partners.  In Feb 2013, Nisha Singhania, General Manager, Saatchi & Saatchi Mumbai left to partner with Ramanuj Shastry in his new venture. Sources have also informed that Priti Kapur, Executive Creative Director, Saatchi Delhi is most likely to move on. So how will this stormy night pass?

The strategy for togetherness
What will be the new name of the entity and who will be the new leader? Will the talent be demotivated and walk out or hang around in the hope of better times in the case of Saatchi and Saatchi? Will it pan out to another partnership where people are the first casualty at the cost of profitability and bottom lines? More importantly, how will clients view this joining of hands of ‘unequals’? Does the new offering bring enough to the table to entice new clients?

Sources have informed that the basic structure is under process, but Praveen Kenneth will remain the Chairman and Managing director of the new entity.

It will be a boon for Saatchi & Saatchi because it will bring in creative strength with Charles Victor, National Creative Director of Law & Kenneth along with his team. There will be stability at both the agencies with fewer exits. It will also help in teaming up with global experts who bring their vision and management.

In today’s challenging economy when agencies are cash-strapped and it is getting harder and harder to obtain lines of credit, this deal will help both agencies in increasing revenues and reducing overheads. Since, Saatchi & Saatchi is a part of the Publicis Omnicom family, Law & Kenneth will get an opportunity of attracting more capital and be first in line for rounds of financing.

Saatchi & Saatchi is a global advertising agency network with 140 offices in 76 countries and the widespread global presence will provide a better platform to Law & Kenneth’s ideas. It will help in increasing market share and expand into new geographies and sectors.

The Publicis Group has been looking to strengthen its digital offering for some time now and Law and Kenneth seems like the perfect answer. With the deal happening, Saatchi & Saatchi will strengthen the digital offerings with Digital Law & Kenneth and it will help in designing and building better digital strategies for the Publicis Omnicom Group in India.

Once a partnership takes place, it remains a challenge to retain the trust and confidence of employees and both the parties have to work towards retaining talent. They also have to align the corporate cultures to prevent conflicts. It is very important to note whether the clients view the two agencies in a compatible way and will the joint offerings attract new business.

Coming together of these agencies leaves a lot of questions unanswered… 

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