The global, $17-billion-plus marketing communications conglomerate WPP launched its fourth global ad network called Red Cell. This new Web now joins the powerful WPP trinity of global ad brands: J Walter Thompson (represented by HTA and Contract here), Ogilvy & Mather (O&M India), and recent entrant to the fold — Young & Rubicam (Dy&R, Rediffusion, Everest).
Red Cell actually cobbles together four independent agencies and their client rosters: the US-based Cole & Weber, the European-based Conquest, the UK-based marketing communications group Perspectives and Asia-Pacific partner Batey.
Is there potential and room for a Red Cell agency to set up camp here? Most definitely, says Ranjan Kapur, managing director, Ogilvy & Mather. His query to WPP founder and head Martin Sorrell has also got the green signal for exploration.
They will look at setting up a ‘challenger brand of communications’ here to take on the market-leader brands in each category, in sync with Red Cell’s global positioning and mandate.
In India HTA has its sibling agency Contract, and O&M has its Speer and RMG. Since these are owned by JWT and O&M, respectively, there is no scope for them to come under the Red Cell banner.
According to Kapur, there is a strong scope and possibility in setting up Red Cell operations in India, from scratch, with O&M and HTA joining forces in this direction. Red Cell strings together a global necklace of commercially strategic hubs and has Luca Lindner, former CEO of Conquest, as its chief. It rallies together a talent force of 1,000 plus professionals, business and resources of these individual agency brands and is positioned as an ad network for ‘challenger’ brands.
The Red Cell combine brings together billings of $1 billion-plus and clients like Alfa Romeo, Carlsberg-Tetley, Ermengildo Zegna, Aventis, Nestle, Nikon and Singapore Airlines. In effect, a Red Cell in India will have a double C mission: one, to handle conflicting ad accounts — for an O&M and Thompson in this case. And second, to be a ‘challenger network’, handling the second-tier of important global brands which challenge global category leaders and with ad budgets in the region of $30-100 million across markets.