Full service agency model only effective working way in future: Rana Barua

Barua, who quit as CLA CEO in June, on his immediate plans, his current favourite ad campaign, the agency space and if there lies an actual value for award shows in advertising

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 8:57 AM

From bringing in new clients and awards to growing the agency business, ad-man Rana Barua has worked as CEO with the likes of Contract India, Creativeland Asia, Law & Kenneth, among others and helped them accelerate growth and creativity. Renowned agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Rediffusion Y&R, McCann and Bates also feature in his work experience. He quit CLA as CEO in June. In a free-wheeling chat with exchange4media, Barua speaks about the agency space, if there lies an actual value for award shows in advertising and more. Edited excerpts:

After CLA, what's on the cards? Would you rather prefer joining an agency or starting something of your own?

I am in the midst of weighing multiple scenarios and should be able to firm up next plans, soon.

You’ve worked with diverse agencies right from HTA (JWT), Ogilvy, McCann, Y&R to Contract. Do you feel that standalone agencies are better at fostering creativity?

Having worked in both standalone and integrated environments, I do feel that standalone agencies have their limitations. While they enhance the creative product, the overall business potential is very restrictive, as one is working in a uni-dimensional funnel in a world which is working in a dynamic and multi-dimensional way.

Out of all your advertising stints, which has been the most challenging one?

It would be fair to say that the Contract stint was the most exciting. I say this because under my leadership, we restaged brand Contract in a very short time and iContract became a major digital force to reckon with. Collectively, Contract and all its divisions, punched way above its weight and expectations, resulting in many client wins, awards and accolades.

The professional environment for advertising agencies has changed dramatically in recent decades- pressure from the market, pressure from clients to be efficient, new forms of advertising. If you compare the way you work today to the advertising business when you started off, what has changed?

The world has changed and so have the Consumers along with their media consumption habits. It’s neither pressure nor is it new forms but simply put, the environment, mediums and our overall lives that have changed due to the advent of technology. We are in the business of ideas, which will always remain the fundamental of our business, and that will never change.

Also how have client budgets at a craft level been?

Clients are well aware and very objective in their approach. Advertising was and remains a very serious and significant portion of their marketing mix and budgets are thus a resultant of the mar-keting objective.

What are your thoughts on the full-service agency model? Do you see it making a comeback?

I totally believe and advocate a full service agency model. It is a huge differentiator with all the necessary division expertise and can be a strength for any agency or ecosystem that can demonstrate effective working together of the same.
As per my belief, the full service agency model is going to be the only effective working way, as we move ahead.

Which was creatively the most gratifying ad campaign you have worked on in your career? Also which is your current favourite ad campaign?

In Contract, the team had created a memorable campaign for TATA Docomo - Bhalai ke Supply. It was gratifying as it broke through clutter, won many accolades, awards and also created many fabulous conversations for the brand and for Contract.

Current campaign, I really like the Swiggy work. They are short, smart and fabulously deliver the essence and advantage of Swiggy.

Do you feel that there lies an actual value in award shows for advertising?

Absolutely. We are in a business of creativity and awards is a way of recognising and applauding the idea, craft, thought. It is a must for our industry and any other which is similar (Music, Movies, etc).

Finally, awards should be coveted and revered. We cannot have an award ceremony every other week!

Is talent retention an issue in the agency space?

It is the same as any other industry. With newer forms of professional gratification and mushrooming of new careers, it is bound to happen. The positive bit about our industry is, we will never have a dearth of talent as ours is a business of ideas, creative and myriad of challenges that will keep attracting smarter and brighter talent.

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