'82.5 Communications is seeking non-WPP partnerships as well'

A candid chat with the creative duo - Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CCO, and VS Srikanth, CEO of 82.5 Communications reveals they have their feet planted firmly on the ground of Indianness

by Misbaah Mansuri
Published - Feb 4, 2019 8:45 AM Updated: Feb 4, 2019 8:45 AM
Sumanto Srikanth 82.5 Communications

Ogilvy India has been all over the news in the last couple of weeks with several important announcements around key appointments and developments. Another such announcement has been the rebranding of Soho Square as 82.5 Communications. Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications and VS Srikanth, the CEO of this new entity got candid with exchange4media on why this development was needed, its structure, clients and building business out of Ogilvy’s halo.                                    

The duo that have their feet firmly planted on the ground of Indian-ness share that the rationale behind the name 82.5 is that it is the longitude of the Indian Standard Time. And rightly so, we’re told that the entity wants to capture the essence of India. When we quiz them about why the development was needed, Chattopadhyay says, “We wanted to reinvent ourselves, re-found our agency as one that stands for ingenious Indian ideas.”

Srikanth adds, “If you look at within the WPP Group, there is Ogilvy which is a creative powerhouse and everyone knows what it’s capable of. For all of us to grow together, we were clear that it shouldn’t be a parking lot of businesses that Ogilvy cannot handle. We need to have our own conflict-management, our own positioning and our own philosophy. We realised that without that we were not going to grow collectively as a group.”                  

The intent is to function as an open-source platform model, revealing that they would be open to partnerships outside the WPP group as well. “We are actively going out and seeking non-WPP partnerships as well,” says Chattopadhyay. The set of clients that the entity will tie-up with, Srikanth says would range from Indian start-ups, small or large to multinational brands.

Speaking about the team’s strength, he adds that it would be around 150 people and are confident that they don’t intend to make it much larger. They acknowledge that the agency has been launched with business in hand and don’t aspire to say a no to a brief, going forward. “All that we’re looking for is just the ideal partner to make it happen. The next one year we need to put our money where our mouth is and show the world examples of the kind of things we’re talking about,” says Chattopadhyay.

When asked about how the agency’s clients have reacted to the rebranding, they say they've been able to garner a very positive feedback from them. Highlighting the structure of 82.5 Chattopadhyay explains, “We are still going to be the core agency for our clients and are going to have an extended team, some who belong to our agency and some partner companies.” The duo emphasises that it will be about forging partnerships without having it in-house in a very heavy legacy structure. “The intention is to be as independent as possible,” they exclaim.

On building the business out of Ogilvy’s halo, Chattopadhyay says, “There is something like Ogilvy halo, no doubt. What’s been exciting for me is that I think it’s great that we’re going into things without baggage and have our destiny in our hands. It’s nice to have a parent company but we have been given a mandate and freedom to say that go out and create your own destiny.”

Speaking about the game-plan ahead, they share that non-standard work will remain a focal area, “Whatever we do, raising the creative bar, in whatever medium, we must have the cutting-edge of creative excellence which is going to be my mandate," maintains Chattopadhyay. Srikanth adds that another key target is to widen client engagement. “We want to have at least half the clients we work with today and want them to start talking to us for communication requirements that go beyond advertising,” he asserts.

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