Soon on entering Indian market, MPG (Media Planning Group), HAVAs' media outfit, has drawn first blood from MindShare. It is not a client, but key member of MindShare Fulcrum - Sandeep Tarkas. Tarkas would be joining MPG as President, South Asia effective January 2003. V Ramani, Head Media Turf India, would also oversee operations of MPG.
When asked why did he leave MindShare Fulcrum, after being with the media outfit for more than eight years, Tarkas says, "It is not because I was unhappy at MindShare. In fact, it is a great place to work, and because of its magnitude, comfort levels are very high." He adds, "My reasons for joining MPG are internal and personal. They are setting up a new outfit here, which would have new challenges - which excite me. It would be greatly fulfilling to look at it a couple of years later and think I helped it grow."
Would he not be considered a traitor, considering the fact that MPG is regarded as one of MindShare's closest competitors. "No", says Tarkas, "It would have been bad if I had left Fulcrum which handles Levers and moved to a media outfit handling P&G. In a way every media house is competition to the other. But I think there is a lot of space for all of us to coexist."
Are they expecting a lot of international alignment to begin with? Says Tarkas, "We are looking at both - international alignments as well as new national clients. Most important of all, we are looking at gaining from Havas' media practices, and tools which are unique in themselves."
Ramani believes that Tarkas would prove to be a great asset for MPG. Says he, "He is one of the best. Besides we think in a very similar fashion and it made us believe that we can work really well together."
Though MPG started operations in India effective yesterday, as Ramani puts it, "big picture would only emerge in Mid December, all I am willing to say right now is that our offerings would be completely unique and different from those in the Indian market today". As for the competition, says Ramani, "Competition is great. And it is not the size that matters but the value of what you bring to the party."
Incidentally, before starting the independent venture, Havas was in discussions with MindShare for a joint venture, which did not work out.