You are returning to ‘advertising’ 10 years after exiting Dentsu. How are you approaching the new inning?
This time around, I go into advertising with no pressure and no expectations. In my first 25 years in the advertising business, my driving motivation always was, “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take”. Every pitch had to be won, and every ounce of energy had to be expended to ensure that I would come out on top. Every single time. This time around I have decided to be selective and to be less driven. The idea is to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Rediffusion has changed drastically since your exit in 2001; it isn’t perceived to be top-of-mind. How are you going to be looking to change this?
It is too early to say what I need to change, and why. I believe that the DNA of Rediffusion remains what it has always been: of high pedigree and high-quality brand work. The talent pool is as strong as ever. The agency has a client list to die for. Client relationships are well nurtured and strong.
I am going to spend the first few months getting to know clients and getting to befriend my team. I will then look at what we need to do going forward.
What is the current headcount at Rediff and Everest? Which cities does it operate in?
To be honest, I do not have a ready answer. Today is my first day at work and I have just been introduced by our chairman, Diwan Arun Nanda, to the top management team. Give me a few days to get all my stats in place, please.
Between your last stint and now – how has the advertising industry changed?
I did not actually go away from the advertising business in the last 10 years. I was not in the traditional advertising business but I became a predominant player, and market leader, in the mobile advertising business. At Mogae Media, I was the sole and exclusive advertising monetisation partner of Airtel, and then later of all the other telcos. I developed a completely new domain with mobile targetting in the digital space which had not been created anywhere else in the world. I then launched ‘StarStar’, a patented call-to-action technology that was unique. I also partnered with Zeotap of Germany to bring in a programmatic engine on top of telco data. I also brought in interesting technologies from Israel on data visualisation and personalisation. A couple of years ago, I bought a stake in Sync Media which uses very different consumer targeting technologies.
The biggest change in advertising has been that coding and data is as important today as copywriting and art direction. Luckily, my entire past decade has been in these new domains. Every business has seen tectonic changes and so has advertising. At an overall level, advertising has become more transactional and less aspirational.
Will Rediffusion retain its name? Or will it be called Mogae?
Both Rediffusion and Everest are iconic brand names of Indian advertising, with the huge franchise. Why would I want to change or discard them?
Any changes to the leadership team?
I am the only change in the leadership team!