Draftfcb Ulka completes 50 yrs: NCD KS Chakravarthy in conversation
In this e4m series on Draftfcb Ulka’s Golden Jubilee Year, the agency’s National Creative Director, KS ‘Chax’ speaks on the creative thought process of the agency.
Continuing with the series of celebrating Ulka's Golden Jubilee Year, the agency’s top executives are sharing their time and experience with the agency and the road ahead. exchange4media catches up with National Creative Director KS ‘Chax’ Chakravarthy this time.
Chax takes a walk down memory lane at the agency as well as shares his agenda for himself and his team and the excitement of getting the creative juices flowing.
He informed that the agency had recently announced the formation of a Creative Council comprising their five key creative leaders from across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. “The idea is to constantly keep an eye on our work from across our offices and clients, and pushing to improve it every month, every week, every day,” he said.
Chax further said, “The other exciting development is in our approach to digital. Draftfcb Ulka was probably the first mainstream agency to set up a full-fledged Digital Division with complete creative as well as back end capabilities. In the new structure, while the digital team will continue to implement and execute the complete solution, it is the CD on the brand who will lead, shape and control the creative ideation, across platforms and channels.”
The journey so far
Going back a bit in time, it was in 2008 that Chax was appointed NCD at Draftfcb Ulka. However, it had been a homecoming of sorts for him, as Chax traces the transition period from the time of Nirmal Goswami and Rumi Mistry, the then Joint Deputy MDs, to the present times. He reminisced, “When I first joined the agency, Ulka (as it was called then) was an agency in transition. Nirmal Goswami and Rumi Mistry were the Joint Deputy MDs. Bal was no longer actively involved, the agency had outgrown its creative hot-shop roots and was struggling to find a new identity as a mainline agency. The Delhi office was almost as big as Mumbai, and the future leadership of the agency was far from clear.”
“What I came back to was a large, professional organisation with an exceptionally clear sense of purpose, a leadership team that worked effortlessly in a powerful matrix structure, a glittering line-up of clients who regarded the agency as true partners, and a pretty deep team of senior creative and management professionals, who shared a sense of common culture and professional values,” he added.
Let the creative juices flow
Chax strongly believed that an agency was as good or as bad as the work it put out there. He further said, “I also believe that you can’t do that consistently across large brands without an extremely strong strategic underpinning. In fact, on any brand with any kind of legacy – read almost any brand – we believe the important breakthrough happens before the brief is written. After that, it is just a question of how much fun the creative has with it. And that sums up my job – make sure there is a leap of imagination in the brief, and create the space for creative to have a ball.”
As Chax walked down memory lane, he reminisced about his first pitch during his first stint. He recalled winning the entire Hongkong Bank business. “Soon after, Bal took me to The Taj for lunch. ‘This was the table, son’, he confided with a chuckle, ‘This is where I sacked the XYZ account’. Needless to add, XYZ was a sizeable business that had been making Ulka executives’ lives miserable, and happened to be exactly the same size as the Hongkong Bank account,” Chax said.
As a post script, Chax added, “The pitch work that Subhash Tendle and I did very in a hush-hush way at Rumi’s house, ran without a single comma being changed – some four campaigns in all.”
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