Hire or acquire: Laurence Boschetto on Draftfcb’s India agenda

Develop capabilities through acquiring or hiring talent in digital, experiential marketing, retail & activation; double India ops in four years: Laurence Boschetto, CEO & President, Draftfcb on the agency’s road ahead.

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Published: Feb 16, 2011 7:56 AM  | 4 min read
Hire or acquire: Laurence Boschetto on Draftfcb’s India agenda

As Ulka, that became Draftfcb Ulka five years back, celebrates its Golden Jubilee, Laurence Boschetto, CEO and President, Draftfcb makes a visit to India to not just celebrate the accomplishments of 50 years but also to “make sure there is another 50 years”.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Boschetto said, “Draftfcb Ulka is already in the top three in India. We have to now grow to the number one position.”

Digital, Experiential, Retail & Activation... Road Ahead
The target set is to double the size of India operations in the next four years. Elaborating further on this, Boschetto said, “The question we are posing to ourselves is, what are the skill-sets, the alliances and the partnerships we need to achieve our growth target. We have to ensure we remain true to our voice and grow at a rapid race. And we have to do it differently from other holding companies because unlike any other agency, 85 per cent of our revenue comes from local businesses. The objective now is to become the preferred marketing partner for Indian companies and take them global.”

Boschetto reiterated that the last five decades were about being true to what the company stood for and the culture it had created. “But we are also in the world, where companies open and shut very fast,” he said, and added, “A part of the reason for me to be here is to be with the India Executive Management team and identify gaps, identify the new talent pool and bring it to the organisation to make sure that capabilities such as digital are at the centre of every conversation we have. If we cannot hire, then which are the potential Indian-based companies that we should look to acquire?”

Developing Draftfcb Ulka’s digital offering is top priority and the pursuit for the right partner has begun. Boschetto’s list however has a host of domains that he believes are strong opportunities in India. He stated, “Experiential marketing is an opportunity that has been overlooked in India. Similarly, the market is seeing immense growth in right sectors to need expertise in communication areas of retail and activation, developing below-the-line marketing services even further and seeking out areas that have not necessarily been amplified in this market place.”

While there is clarity that acquisition should be the route for the digital offering of the agency, Boschetto cautioned that it was important to find the right balance between acquiring and organic development for the various domains. He explained, “When it is a natural organic evolution, it is strategically sound because it is built on the platform that already exists and is of resources you already have. Sometimes you acquire talent but you don’t have the book of business to develop it. Then it becomes a long-term investment without much of a payoff. The harmony is important. I am open to whatever the management team comes back with and builds the business case on. Whatever we do should run smoothly and enhance value to our organisation and hence to our clients.”

An Accomplishment to Celebrate: Rear View
Ulka’s Golden Jubilee is an important landmark, according to Boschetto for the Draftfcb Network. He observed, “What we have gone through in the last three years has challenged every fundamental reality we have in business. When you sit back and think of 50 years of accomplishments, you think of why and how it happened. In the case of Ulka, the reason is very simple -- Ulka had a clear focus and understanding about marketing communications. And they started it really close by hiring the best talent, creating a culture that was about talent and listening to what people inside were saying about growing the business.”

Growing from the small creative boutique to the being the third largest in India in a 50-year period also means living through economic, socio-political changes and various others challenges of the business landscape. “Despite everything, they were able to stay the course and this is testament to vision and collaboration. From a Draftfcb perspective, it is validation to the organisation that it survived the test of time -- we always know we have to be true to our sense of purpose and destiny but it is how you achieve it.”

Speaking specifically on the last five years when the Draftfcb and Ulka relation took shape in Draftfcb Ulka, Boschetto recalled, “The reason we have been successful in the last five years is highly compatible with why Ulka is celebrating 50 years – it is about people, about great ideas and about performance for our clients. If you keep it that simple and focussed, no matter what changes around us, we will still manage to stay the path charted out. The entire Network is celebrating with India right now for this landmark.”

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