Mullen Lintas is here to offer ambitious brands an alternative to the likes of Lowe, Ogilvy & JWT

Joseph George- the Group CEO of Mullen Lowe Lintas Group India shares his first thoughts on the future success of two-creative agency structure for Mullen Lintas.

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Updated: Jul 29, 2015 9:42 AM
Mullen Lintas is here to offer ambitious brands an alternative to the likes of Lowe, Ogilvy & JWT

The Lowe Lintas Group, which was rebranded to Mullen Lowe Lintas has been in the news for two reasons, firstly for its  rebranding in India which was announced last week (the rebranding in India comes on the back of the global union of IPG agencies Mullen, and Lowe and Partners).

Secondly, as part of this move, the Group also announced their plans for a two-creative-agency structure. The leadership structure of the new agency Mullen Lintas which formally launches on August 1st; headed by Amer Jaleel as Chairman and CCO (formerly joint National Creative Director at Lowe Lintas).

The core leadership team of Mullen Lintas also includes Virat Tandon as CEO and  Shriram Iyer as National Creative Director.Tandon comes back to Mullen  Lowe Mumbai after his stint in Singapore where he worked on renowned brands like Fair and Lovely and Unilever.

Iyer, who is currently the Executive Creative Director and Creative Head for Lowe Lintas' Delhi office, will move to Mumbai soon.

In conversation with exchange4media in his first interview as Group CEO, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group India, Joseph George, the architect behind the India leg of rebranding for The Group and creation of Mullen Lintas, talks about the reasons why most new agencies meet an early end, the need for Mullen Lintas, reasons behind his confidence on the success for the new agency and more …………….

At a time in the communications industry where new agencies spouting is a daily phenomenon, be it erstwhile agency heads starting on their own or established agencies starting new ones. The success rate of these new agencies however remains questionable.

Most have failed admits George, as he attributes two reasons for this. “They (the agencies) did not have top draw people running it nor did they have top draw clients to reassure other top draw clients to feel comfortable and reassured working with them. We are attempting to address both - our best are moving from Lowe Lintas to Mullen Lintas; some colleagues, and some clients. This will help Mullen Lintas attract both, talent as well as clients at a faster rate than it would have been possible if we had done this organically And for this, we are truly grateful for the clients who have agreed to move from Lowe Lintas to Mullen Lintas. This act of belief, confidence and support for a new start up will be cherished for a long long time.”

“To keep Mullen Lintas independent from Lowe Lintas, we have transferred some of our best people to form the leadership team, and made some key hires from outside,” adds George on his approach on resource allocation from Mullen Lowe to Mullen Lintas.

The Group is also moving most clients and personnel from Linen Lintas and Karishma Lintas into Mullen Lintas.  

Some excerpts from the interview ……….

Do we need a new agency in an already hyper-fragmented agency landscape in India?

India does not need another niche player that does a few things well. With the pedigree of Lintas, and a globally acclaimed operating model of Mullen; Mullen Lintas aims to be a top agency in India.

Big brands need both, depth of domain expertise and width of capabilities and shouldn’t have to choose one over the other. With only a handful of agencies capable of offering both depth and width, to a scale that a top brand needs, Mullen Lintas is here to offer ambitious brands an alternative to the likes of Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy and JWT!

Our advantage vs. the big three is the fact that Mullen Lintas is born in 2015. Big agencies are today, dealing with the new marketing landscape and adapting their offerings to it. Mullen Lintas is a product of the evolving marketing landscape, the fact that it has no baggage allows it to leap-frog this need to change and adapt. It understands that a great brand needs a great narrative that flows seamlessly through screens, experiences, shopping environments and conversations. It will be equipped to put brands at the centre of the touch-point universe.

Mullen Lintas is born ahead of the curve and intends to remain a mashup of the enduring and the emerging. Its leadership team ( Amer, Virat and Shriram ) has the pedigree and the class of massive brand successes under their belt.

Mullen is not a well-known brand in India,  isn’t  this rebranding counter- productive for brand Lowe which is a renowned brand in India?

We believe our strength in India, comes from our roots in the brand Lintas, which is why the two creative agencies are christened Lowe Lintas and Mullen Lintas respectively. The added advantage that comes with Mullen, albeit a lesser known brand in India, is the processes and practices of Mullen that are proven to be best-in-class in the US market.

In recent years, Mullen has been selected as a Fast Company Most Innovative Company, a three-time Advertising Age A-List Agency, a Creativity Innovator of the Year, and one of Forbes Magazine’s Ten Great Ad Agencies.

In 2014, Mullen won six Cannes Lions, an Emmy Award, and was ranked as the #6 U.S. and #15 worldwide agency for creative achievement by the prestigious One Club. In addition, Mediahub, Mullen’s media planning and buying unit, was recognized as the Full-Service Agency of the Year by Mediapost in 2014.

Given your vision of Mullen Lintas competing with the top 3 agencies including Lowe, How does pitching work in this scenario between your two agencies?

Given the independent nature of the two agencies, Mullen Lintas would be happy to pitch a business versus the big agencies, including Lowe Lintas.

What is the client allocation between the two agencies?

We are working on the detailing of the client portfolios right now, and will be able to share more on that in the coming days.

Does the creation of another agency serve as a solution to handle conflict clients?

It does, to some extent, for our advertising business. Lowe Lintas, given its scale and portfolio, does have limitations in terms of open categories. We are regularly approached by clients, especially in crowded product categories, who are unable to partner a top agency simply because they’ve been blocked by competition. It is an unhealthy reality that India now has more top brands than top agency brands. Having Mullen Lintas now allows us to help clients solve a part of this problem.

Why have you chosen this particular leadership team?

I have worked with Amer, Virat and Shriram for long and close. Suffice to say that I am just lucky that they agreed to "start up" within the Group. Their credentials and sheer output is enviable for any agency. They are great guys in and outside office, and they complement and supplement each other brilliantly.

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