Raahil Chopra
Jul 21, 2022

Havas launches Cake in India

Rosie Holden, chief executive officer, Cake, Rana Barua, group CEO, Havas Group India, and Alex Groom, executive creative director, Cake, chat with Campaign India about the launch of the sports, entertainment and culture agency.

From left: Alex Groom, Rosie Holden and Rana Barua
From left: Alex Groom, Rosie Holden and Rana Barua
Havas Group has announced the launch of UK-based creative agency Cake in India. 
Cake is a creative agency specialising in sport, culture, and entertainment. It is the seventh creative agency under Havas in India. The creative group also includes Havas Worldwide India (creative), Havas CX (customer experience), Think Design (UI/UX), Conran Design Group Mumbai (brand design), Shobiz Havas (experiential), and Havas QED (integrated).
Cake was founded in 1999. It was acquired by the Havas Group in 2008. 
To lead Cake in India, Havas Group India has appointed Rajika Mittra as managing partner. Mittra moves from Promax Asia, where she was country head in Singapore. 
Mittra said, "What excited me about Cake was the novelty of the idea. Throughout my career, I have realised that there is an untapped land of opportunity for a structured ecosystem like Cake in the space of sport, culture, and entertainment. Cake India will help marketers connect with affluent consumers by tapping into their passion points of sports, culture and entertainment. I’m delighted to lead the agency and confident that we will make a meaningful difference in India."
We caught up with Rosie Holden, chief executive officer, Cake; Rana Barua, group CEO, Havas Group India, and Alex Groom, executive creative director, Cake, to learn more about the agency. 
How is Cake different from Havas Creative?
Holden: We are a creative agency that specialises in sport, culture and entertainment. We are a creative agency because we think creative first. Our specialism is sport, culture and entertainment. That’s our unique positioning in London, which we wanted to bring to India.
Barua: If you look at how a creative group operates, it can provide end-to-end solutions for every single offering a client wants. Cake, is a super-specialist end-to-end agency that has expertise in sports, entertainment and culture. This expertise isn’t something a client gets from Havas Creative. Sports, entertainment and culture is a super-specialist unit, just like our other offerings which include branding and design, performance marketing, PR, and experiential marketing.
For a while, we were in talks about bringing them to India. We waited to launch operations because of the Covid pandemic. India is equally or more passionate (compared to the UK) when it comes to sports (not just cricket, but all-encompassing). Culture is something we thrive on as a country. Entertainment can be in any form, right from the classical world to the forms of art and food.
We are hoping to give it a premium positioning because we bring super expertise. We can run creative campaigns that include influencer marketing, activations, and more. We want to listen to the clients and provide solutions creatively. This will make them realise the value we add. Our solutions are differentiated and there’s no thin line or overlap between Cake and Havas Creative.
How do you go about the creative execution for a unit such as this?
Groom: We start with the audience and that’s the most important thing. Havas’ ‘meaningful brands’ vision has a nuanced version of it for Cake. It supports our strategic thinking and ultimately how we come up with ideas. We are channel agnostic. We are creative first and that’s a fundamental that we need to follow, when we are looking at the world of sport, entertainment and culture, especially in India, which is so vast.
What kind of clients are you looking to approach in India?
Barua: Over the last few years, the group ecosystem has become extremely large. We have 15 agencies across media, creative, and health, and hopefully will be adding more. 
So the most logical and convenient way would be to speak with many of the clients we have for the other agencies. We will be sending them letters and telling them that we’ve launched Cake.
Then, what’s interesting is that there are many sets of clients that don’t work with us currently, but are active in sports, entertainment and culture. We will reach out to them too and make them understand what we can do with case studies of the work we have done in the UK.
Will there be a lot of collaboration between the two offices (London and Mumbai)?
Barua: We are going to be working together. We’ll borrow from each other. India is an exciting market for them and is the first step out of the UK. We’ve seen what they have done in the world of football and automobiles, among others and we can learn a lot from them.
What made Mumbai the perfect place to open the agency’s second office globally? Will Cake be expanding to other markets?
Holden: India has a huge population, with a huge passion for sport, culture and entertainment. It naturally made sense. In the future, we would love to take our brand of creativity to markets where those passions exist. For now, it’s about driving a successful office here in India.
You’re looking to position this as a premium agency?
Barua: We aren’t going to be a run-of-the-mill commodity brand. We are going to be a strong creative agency with a very strong consulting/strategic intent of building partnerships. You’re not going to get us for free or have five rungs of conversations and pay us peanuts. We are going to invest time and work with a select few clients. We want to look strong in the partnerships that we do. We know our strengths and weaknesses, and know where we can do well for the brand and where we can’t. For now, we may not be apt for a sport like Kabaddi or Kho-Kho.
You joined the group in 2019. How has the agency and the industry changed since? 
Holden: I’ve been working with Alex to evolve and create a relevant positioning for Cake as an agency. We moved away our proposition  from being a more transactional sport and entertainment agency, to a creative agency. We started down that path before the pandemic hit. We felt that was a stronger agency offering. When the pandemic hit, it became clear we were right. We were able to pivot quite quickly from live experiences, particularly in the sports space. Our positioning enabled us to deliver solutions for clients in the digital space.
Other than Mittra, who else is in the team in India and how many people does it employ?
Barua: Currently, it’s just a core team of five people, with three on board. We’ll be working with the UK team closely for the first few months and want to get the positioning right because that’s most important.
Cake is truly India’s first sports, entertainment and culture agency. We don’t have one in a structured way and so we then need the right people. We all say we are passionate fans, but people develop cold feet when they are asked to join an agency. I was asking Rosie where they find the people (in London)!
Along with Mittra, we have a strategy head who has come on board. For now, we will be working with Shobiz, Havas Media Sports, and Havas Creative to support Cake for now. I’m sure we’ll have a clear differentiated agency which will be a great product 12 months down the line.
Campaign India

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