Gordon Bowen, co-founder and chairman, mcgarrybowen and chief creative officer of Dentsu Aegis Network, has a very special connection with India, the country he was visiting last week, for his presentation at Goafest 2019.
"My father lived here for around four years. He was here during World War II and wanted to have his ashes spread here," said Bowen, before dwelling upon the importance of the market for the agency.
"The creative output from India is extremely important. Big clients for us like American Express and Intel – they’ve both filmed in India. Even though the work was created initially in the United States, our office from India was on set and advising us about what would be culturally relevant," he added.
And Bowen hopes that more work of such stature can be created as he wants mgarrybowen and Dentsu Aegis Offices to cross-pollinate.
In India, the agency was hit by the #MeToo scandal last year, which led to its top-management team exiting the agency with a new team announced earlier this month. The momentum was halted though with the amount of work coming out of the agency, coming down.
Labelling what happened as unfortunate, Bowen stresses that the agency has restarted, with a new leadership team in place. "We have an all new leadership in place. I’m really sad that #MeToo happened. It couldn’t be foreseen by us. At the same time it’s happened to many many agencies in the US and across the world. We at mcgarrybowen are committed to India and our clients. India is a huge market in terms of now and the future and we are investing heavily in the growth of mcgarrybowen and DAN. We plan to have the best creative offering in the market," he said.
He explains, "For example, packaging in the United States isn’t that strong. It’s better in other parts of the world. As we see more and more companies like P&G, Mondelez and the likes become global, they need to look for inspiration in package design from outside Chicago, or wherever they are located. I think where India is strong in package design is that they’re not afraid of doing things that American packagers are afraid of. The use of colour, vibrancy etc. is something we see in India. I think there can be an amalgamation of things that feel very global and international. The more important thing is that India has an advantage of being multi-lingual and speaking English. So because of that it’s very easy to transculturise across all the English speaking world and India."
When asked about the future of agencies with the recent news of Accenture Interactive acquiring Droga5, Bowen wasn't worried and stressed on the importance of a creative idea.
With mcgarrybowen itself being acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network in 2008, Bowen stated, "It’s not about what the future is. It’s about the maturity of the agencies that have been acquired. Droga5 didn’t get acquired in a day, they got acquired after 20 years. Similarly, we didn’t get acquired in a day, we were an agency of the year for three years, and the fastest growing agency in the history of Madison Avenue. We didn’t go out to get acquired – our clients needed a global network and we had big, giant clients that needed an offering that was outside United States, and we thought we had to join with someone to match it. In the end it will always be about who has the best creative idea. And the best idea can come from a 20,000 employee organisation or a five-member organisation. The number one thing that clients are suffering right now is clutter. The average person sees 15,000 advertising impressions a day – whoever has the best idea to break through the clutter will win."