Ohri speaks about his plans, strategies and responsibilities as he readies to take on the role of CEO of Dentsu Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) in Singapore
Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | June 8, 2015
There was quite a buzz in the industry when Rohit Ohri left JWT after a long stint of 21 years to hold the helm of Dentsu India. The industry was abuzz yet again last week when Dentsu Aegis Network announced the geographic expansion of Ohri’s role. Having previously led Dentsu in India and Asia Pacific - South, Ohri has now been appointed CEO of Dentsu Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) covering all markets in the region outside of Dentsu’s home territory. For his new role, Ohri has relocated from Delhi to Singapore, and takes charge as CEO of Dentsu Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) from today in Singapore.
With his expertise and strategies, Ohri took the group to new heights. Acquisitions of Taproot and Webchutney, along with the appointment of some of the best creative heads, have made Dentsu Aegis group one of the bigger players in the industry. BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Ohri before he moves on to Singapore to know more about his plans, strategies, role and responsibilities. Excerpts:
Did the announcement of your new role come as a surprise?
Not at all. I have been CEO, Dentsu Asia Pacific (South), for a year now. My remit has been expanded now to all of Asia Pacific (ex-Japan).
Please define your new role and responsibilities? How different would your new role be from that of your India role?
To build the Dentsu Branded Agencies (ex-media) in the Asia Pacific region and to create a consistently brilliant experience of Dentsu for our clients and our people. The role is to lead the development and implementation of the Dentsu vision, positioning, strategy, culture and product across Asia Pacific. It is to define and align approaches, tools, products and ways of working to deliver the brand strategy and growth ambitions, and to deliver them consistently across the region.
Do you feel that there are some unfinished agenda that you would have liked to see through in Dentsu India?
Dentsu in India has had a flying start in the organisational transformation journey. We have a really high calibre team on board and I am confident that they will build on the momentum that we have together brought to the India operations. India will be an important part of my new assignment and I will continue to be involved in key initiatives here.
The new role will involve different approach and strategies. Do you see your India stint being of significant use?
They say, ‘if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere in the world’. True for business as well. The complexity of the Indian market is a great training ground for regional and global managers.
As head of Dentsu Branded Agencies, will it be more about business development or acquisitions?
We have evolved a strong strategy for building the Dentsu Branded Agencies in the region. Dentsu will sit at the intersection of creativity, technology and innovation. Our strategy will include organic and inorganic growth. But our focus, however, will be on building our creative reputation.
You have been with Dentsu for almost four years. Would you like to share the key high points of your stint?
Dentsu’s success in India is a role model for the network globally. Our business has trebled over the last four years. The Taproot and Webchutney acquisitions have been outstanding. Our base of non-Japanese clients has grown exponentially. However, what I’m proudest of is the cultural transformation of the agency in India. We now have a motivating culture that supports creativity and innovation.
You have been part of Indian advertising for more than two decades. How would you define the evolution and growth of the ad industry in India?
The Indian advertising industry is in one of its most exciting phases of evolution. Bringing digital capabilities to the creative agency core is the challenge that most agencies are facing. It’s no longer about above-the-line or below-the-line or for that matter online or offline. There is no line anymore. It is a borderless world that demands borderless communication solutions.
Global networks bring a lot of state-of-the-art thinking to the table. But in the process, is Indian creativity getting suppressed by a global template?
No, global templates is an idea of the past. Brands are organising ideas today. This concept allows for brands to connect simultaneously at multiple levels – global and local.
You have worked with so many advertising people over the years. Any person or persons that you feel have had a profound impact in your evolution?
I think the years I worked on the PepsiCo business really honed my skills as an advertising professional. The marketing team at PepsiCo, team Pepsi@ HTA, the Pepsi celebrities, and the PepsiCo partners’ network all contributed to making me the advertising person I’m today.
Your feelings about leaving India?
Singapore, most people say, is one of the best Indian cities. Jokes apart, I’m really going to miss my fabulous team in India and some great client relationships.