Brittney Rigby
Feb 20, 2024

Looking back, looking forward: Aditya Kanthy, Omnicom Advertising Services

In a fresh series, APAC adland CEOs share their hopes and fears for the year ahead and reflect on 2023. This week, we chat with Aditya Kanthy, CEO of recently-formed Omnicom Advertising Services in India.

Looking back, looking forward: Aditya Kanthy, Omnicom Advertising Services

Campaign Asia-Pacific’s 'Looking back, looking forward' series featuring chief executives across APAC’s adland. Read the other interviews here.

After 21 years at the helm of DDB Mudra Group, Aditya Kanthy has entered 2024 as the custodian of not one agency brand, but three. In October, Kanthy was named the boss of the newly-formed Omnicom Advertising Services, overseeing TBWA, BBDO, and his former agency, DDB Mudra Group, in the Indian market. But that promotion was both a highlight and a challenge, bringing with it questions and scrutiny, too.

As Kanthy gears up to chair the jury for the Creative Effectiveness and Creative Strategy Spikes in March, he reveals to Campaign his hopes and fears for the year ahead, and the shiniest and prickliest parts of 2023, both personally and professionally.

2023: Best and worst

The announcement of Kanthy’s promotion wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Instead, it was accompanied by “speculation about the role and relevance of individual agencies” both within the wider marker and internally. He immediately had questions to answer, namely: Did the creation of Omnicom Advertising Services threaten the future of the DDB, BBDO, and TBWA brands in India?

“Navigating through that context was particularly challenging,” Kanthy admits. “What cut through the noise, both internally with our people and externally as well, was reiterating Omnicom’s belief in the individuality of the three creatively acclaimed networks built over the past 40 years.”

The intense work year meant Kanthy struggled to dedicate as much time as he’d like to some of the out of office pursuits he loves.

On a personal note, I wish I was more disciplined about my exercise routine. It's a priority for this year, along with making more time for my friends.”

Kanthy and his wife Rashmi did, however, manage to prioritise time together in 2023, even as they were “swamped with work throughout the year."

Amidst the chaos of our demanding careers, we made sure to carve out time for the things we love, especially with our 7-year-old son,” Kanthy continues.

“As a family I think we got better at making time for each other and for the things we enjoy doing together, whether it was exploring India’s incredible wildlife or our rich musical tradition.”

Professionally, he says that it was a significant year for DDB not just in India, but across the region and the global network. At Cannes, DDB was Network of the Year and DDB Mudra Group took home a Grand Prix at the WARC Awards for Effectiveness.

“It was also a wonderful experience to be on the Creative Effectiveness jury,” Kanthy adds.

The Phyllis India Project, a mentoring program for women, expanded across Asia to include South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. And Kanthy calls out the network’s DE&I work as another highlight, including: Stayfree’s It’s Just a Period and DDB for Good’s Period For Change campaign, supporting the Global Menstrual Equity Accelerator; Words of Pride for Disney Star, which advocates for respectful language for India’s LGBTQIA+ community; and EatQual with McDonald’s, for a more inclusive burger packaging solution and broader initiatives including making the app colour-blind friendly.

The Phyllis India Project – DDB Mudra Group

“To see a lot of this work celebrated at the Advertising Standards Council of India-led D&I Edge summit was special,” Kanthy says.

2024: Hopes and fears

Unsurprisingly, Kanthy is eagerly anticipating the first full year in his new role, after being appointed at the end of 2023. He says his focus in 2024 will be “bringing the might of the Omnicom network to clients in India, attracting the best creative talent, supporting our global capability center for creative services, and leading three world-class creative networks in BBDO, DDB, and TBWA in one of the most exciting markets in the world.”

He does not have worries—“I wouldn’t exactly label it as a fear”—but he is cautious about the challenge of balancing his professional and personal selves, especially in light of a new, high-pressure job.

“I am wary of not being able to walk the talk on my personal commitments given the exciting new role of building Omnicom Advertising Services,” Kanthy notes. “So, it will be crucial for me to ensure that my personal priorities don’t take a backseat.”

Overall, though, he’s optimistic: “It’s going to be fun.”

Source:
Campaign Asia

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