Delhi no longer in the creative hinterland

Delhi is a fertile playing ground, with a lot of juicy brands that have helped the city in becoming the new creative destination

e4m by Twishy
Updated: Feb 21, 2013 11:33 PM
Delhi no longer in the creative hinterland

From Canon’s resonating way of ‘What makes us click’, Kurkure’s desi style of a whole new quirky family to Greenlam’s love for beauty through ‘Saundarya Premi’ and Incredible India’s scintillating style of enticing the tourists, the creative agencies in Delhi have left an indelible mark. These works strengthen our belief in the words of Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, “We need to shift our thinking to New Delhi and not New York”; and the candid confession by Miles Young, CEO, Ogilvy Worldwide that New Delhi is the next destination.

Traditionally, the advertising industry has been led by agencies and clients based in Mumbai, but there have been a sea change in the last five – six years. With the real estate boom, some of the finest clients such as Hero, LG, Samsung, Airtel, Nokia, Coke, Dabur and Pepsi, have started setting up shop in Gurgaon. JWT, McCann Erickson and Dentsu has one of the largest offices in Delhi and creative honchos such as Bobby Pawar, Chief Creative Officer, India Managing Partner, JWT and Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup India and President, South Asia have spent considerable time in Delhi.

There has been a history of National Creative Directors such as Pratap Suthan and Emmanuel Upputuru operating from Delhi. In the early 90s, it was a strong creative place with the presence of great minds such as Vidur Vohra, Shivjeet Kullar, Freddy Birdy and Naved Akhtar. It was followed by a phase when the talent started migrating to Mumbai, not only from Delhi but from all parts of the country because of the presence of the film industry.

Delhi is now a fertile playing ground with a lot of juicier and beautiful brands. Mumbai has become saturated in the same way Bangalore had 15 years ago. According to industry estimates, if advertisers spend around Rs 40,000 crore in India, Delhi contributes to roughly one-third of it.

Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Dentsu Marcom said, “I think Delhi is and will always be a great creative place to work. There is such a great wealth of inspiration if you look at the architecture, the history, stories that peep out of almost every corner, everything is so stunning. There are millions of places in this city that are so inspiring, that creativity flows automatically. There is so much of culture and art that flourishes here.”

“Coming to our business, I think Delhi and Mumbai are very good markets when it comes to the kind of businesses and clients that the cities have, and like in any business, there are people who appreciate creativity and there are those who are scared of it,” he added.

How Delhi does it?
Experts believe that the people in both the cities are thoroughly professional and hungry for good work. However, the work culture is different in both the cities and Delhi is slow as compared to Mumbai. Mumbai has a superior culture and there is a lot of concentrated talent that has driven more professionalism. The access to the film industry where ad professionals can talk and discuss with directors, meet them for scripts makes it easier to work in Mumbai.

Comparatively, there are a lot better agencies doing good work in Mumbai than in Delhi but the hunger to do more and better is everywhere. Socially, Delhi is a more aggressive and pushy city but from a business point of view, Mumbai comes out as a leader, according to experts.

Ashish Chakravarty, Creative Chief – North, McCann Worldgroup feels that pitches are aggressively happening in Delhi. Close to 70 – 80 per cent of the business is locally acquired and a lot of local clients and first time advertisers are hunting for agencies.

“Where there is a client, there is a pitch; Delhi has clients, so pitches are happening over here,” said Satbir Singh, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide India. He added, “Some years ago, clients used to stick to the same agency but today everyone is changing jobs and every time a new person comes in he/she wants his own preference of the agency and a pitch is called. Sometimes the account is retained but a pitch always happens.”

Servicing the Delhi way
Experts expressed concern over the quality of client servicing and planning in both the cities. They believe that it is difficult to attract the best talent in advertising because of the low-paying scale. However, servicing in Delhi means handling clients with limited resources; hence it gives a strong business sense.

Chakravarty said, “The ability to dole out money for talent is dipping.” There are lot of new categories opening up like design and event management companies and the glamour quotient has reduced. In case of digital, the money is going to independent digital agencies. There is a huge disparity in the amount of salaries paid to the agency side and the client side due to which talent is migrating. “We are not the only source to attract the best talent,” added Chakravarty.

The art directors are opting for television, animation and design companies. Hence, there is a dearth of talent in the industry, especially in planning and client servicing.

Sanjeev Bhargava, Managing Partner, JWT Delhi said, “With the amount of business growing and newer categories and brands entering Delhi at a much faster pace than Mumbai, planning and servicing need to investigate and understand the new dynamics of competition, brands, categories, products and develop the right strategies and make a plan for each of these entrants in the market. This is a big challenge.”

Love-hate relationship
There have been enough cases of very long agency-client relationships in Delhi just like in Mumbai.  It depends on the kind of work that the agencies are doing, the way they understand the business of clients, nature of responding faster and customising services according to the needs of the clients.

Sainath Saraban, Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett, Delhi said, “We have a very good relationship with Coke and we are treated as an extended Coke family. Some clients like to have a protocol driven relationship but some of them have full faith in the agencies. There have times when we have just narrated what’s on our mind without even a written script and the client appreciated it because they have faith in the idea.”

Advertising is a business of selling ideas that come from people. Experts believe that it’s not a relationship between an agency and a client but it’s a relationship between the agency team and the client team.
Ajay Gahlaut, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather shared that the relationships are definitely better in Mumbai and on an average Mumbai seems to work more closely with clients. Larger percentage of clients like and respect the agencies in Mumbai.

Experts also believe that clients come with similar set of challenges and each one of them has a different issue to resolve, be it in Delhi and Mumbai.

Rocky trail
Advertising is closely related to the entertainment and art industry. The big production houses are based in Mumbai so the city gets an upper edge. Delhi is strong in terms of creatives but it is not strong on the peripheral side. Lack of professionalism in the lower-end services caused production houses to move to Mumbai. It is very unlikely to see high-end film making guys setting up base in Delhi. Mumbai will be the centre for high-end production due to larger infrastructure.

“It is easy for creative people to move but shifting of film production houses will not happen very soon,” said Gahlaut. Creating a radio spot is also very difficult in Delhi due to the lack of proper studios and shooting a film is a far sight. Singh said, “I don’t think that big production houses will ever come to Delhi. Good commercials are being shot in Delhi but it’s an exception and not the rule.”

The Delhi Ad Club, started with a core team of enthusiasts, has to create forums and platforms for ad professionals to share ideas and have a creative renaissance.
“There has been conscious effort by the Ad Club to become more inclusive, recognising Delhi as a source of big business. We are in the process of engaging a larger advertising fraternity in the activities of the Ad Club in Delhi,” said Bhargava.

The perception is slowly changing and clients have started showing acknowledgement of the creative work coming from Delhi. The fees in advertising are shrinking and the top brass can’t be travelling every time; so, there is a need for good people working locally in Delhi.

Though Mumbai is still the ‘Mecca’ of advertising, Delhi will soon be christened with a new title apart from the ‘Dil Walo Ki Dilli’.

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