As Mullen Lintas commences its operations, Amer Jaleel, Virat Tandon and Shriram Iyer talk about the agency’s growth plans, its vision and how it seeks to be a challenger to established agencies
Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | August 3, 2015
Very recently, Lowe Lintas + Partners created quite a stir in the industry when they announced the launch of a new agency, Mullen Lowe Lintas, and rebranded the entire group from Lowe Lintas + Partners to Mullen Lowe Lintas Group. As part of this move, the Group also announced their plans for a two-creative agency structure – Lowe Lintas and the newly created Mullen Lintas.
Amer Jaleel and Arun Iyer, who have been joint National Creative Directors at Lowe Lintas, have been promoted to different roles. While Iyer takes on the role of CCO at Lowe Lintas, Jaleel takes on the role of Chairman and CCO of Mullen Lintas. The core team of Mullen Lintas would include Virat Tandon as CEO and Shriram Iyer as National Creative Director.
Moreover, R Balakrishnan (Balki) and Joseph George (Joe) continue as Group Chairman and Group CEO, respectively, of Mullen Lowe Lintas Group.
As is known, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group has operating divisions in advertising (Lowe Lintas, Mullen Lintas), activation (LinEngage), design (dCell), digital (LinTeractive), brand consulting (LinConsult), motion picture (LinProductions), healthcare marketing (LinHealth) and PR (GolinOpinion) that manage 300+ clients.
With a talent pool of over 900 people across seven cities in India, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group currently manages more brands amongst the Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 and Top 100 of AC Nielsen-Brand Equity’s India’s Most Trusted Brands (2013 and 2014) than any other agency in India. With marketing effectiveness at the core of its offering, the group has received numerous accolades across a host of Effectiveness Awards globally.
To get a deeper understanding of the plans and strategies ahead, BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Amer Jaleel, Chairman, CCO, Mullen Lintas; Virat Tandon, CEO, Mullen Lintas; and Shriram Iyer, National Creative Director, Mullen Lintas, who share their views on the new agency, the agency structure and the vision.
Why the need for a new agency?
India has birthed several big brands over the last two decades. However, for a long time, the top agency brands have remained largely unchanged. When asked about the rationale behind launching a new agency, Jaleel said, “There is no doubt about the fact that there are a lot of agencies and we are not making a play for ‘an agency’, rather we are making a play amongst the top three slots. We are starting small, but the talent, legacy and offering that we have is not less than that of a big agency. Mullen Lintas is a product of the evolving marketing landscape, and with our ‘big agency’ ambition, we intend to partner brands whose ambitions are driven by a passionate pursuit of leadership by presenting ourselves as a compelling challenger to the likes of Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy and JWT.”
According to him, no matter what issues the market was facing, there was a need for a big agency. He added, “Mullen is a not-so-famous brand, but it does bring a lot of value with it. It has a lot of depth in the US market. Mullen is a strong agency outside India, it is just that we are not aware of quite a few brands here in India.”
The new structure
There will be a two-agency structure that would be followed by the group comprising Mullen Lintas and Lowe Lintas. “Lowe Lintas is one of the famous agencies and Mullen Lintas is gearing up to carve its place in the growing world. Both the agencies will exist as big brands with completely different set-ups and offices,” informed Jaleel.
Mullen Lintas is starting in three markets – Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, as of now, and the agency is taking a few brands with it which Jaleel refrained from revealing. “Given the independent nature of the two agencies, Mullen Lintas would be happy to pitch for a business versus the big agencies, including Lowe Lintas. We are aiming to make a very individual and independent way of working,” he added.
Talking about the core team, Jaleel said, “Virat Tandon has been a great business partner to me in managing the global mandate on Lifebuoy, and Shriram has been a driving force behind what Lowe Lintas Delhi has achieved in the past few years. I have thoroughly enjoy working with both of them and couldn’t have asked for better friends to the start the Mullen Lintas journey with.”
The vision and mission
The vision is to carve a place among the top brands and strengthen the core essence of the group. “A lot of brands in India are maturing and over the last 20 years, there has been a lot of growth being witnessed in the Indian market. With technological advent, there has been a lot of new ways of working that have come up. However, though the brands have matured, the agencies haven’t, hence there have been challenges. For the last six to seven months, technology has changed the mindset and technology can grow to a certain pace. This has given rise to tech-parody, hence there is a big need for an agency to create something innovative and differentiation based on consumer needs,” he added.
The vision of Mullen Lintas will be to cater to the growing needs and demands of the consumers and keep up with the pace of the growing shifts in the industry.
The core team
A part of the network for over a decade, Virat Tandon first joined Lowe Lintas at its New Delhi office in 2004 and has undertaken numerous senior and leadership roles in the agency over that time. A Unilever veteran of over 10 brands and 60+ countries, he has worked in India on clients including Maruti Suzuki, Nestle, Dominos, Sony Audio, Dabur, NIIT, ITC, GSK, Holiday Inn and AT&T; and previously ran Lowe’s healthcare agency in India, LinHealth. Prior to joining Lowe Lintas, he worked with WPP agencies Rediffusion, Grey and Contract. Over the past few years, Tandon has been the business partner to Amer Jaleel for global duties of Unilever brand Lifebuoy.
Together, they have led Lifebuoy to its place of global leadership, including the iconic initiative, HelpAChildReach5, for which the brand received recognition around the world at effectiveness as well creative awards.
Tandon commented, “Mullen Lintas is born to stand ahead of the curve. Big agencies today are dealing with the new marketing landscape and adapting their offerings to it, hence the advantage is that Mullen Lintas has no such baggage and that allows us to leap-frog this need to change and adapt. We understand that a great brand needs a great narrative that flows seamlessly through screens, experiences, shopping environments and conversations. We will equip ourselves to play a pivotal role for our brands.”
Currently ECD and Creative Head for the Delhi offices of Lowe Lintas, Shriram Iyer moves to Mumbai in this new role. He has been with the group since 1998 and played various roles in the creative team at Lowe Lintas’ Mumbai and Delhi offices. In his recent role, Iyer has been instrumental in the success of clients such as Google, Micromax, Olx, Hero Motors, Havells and Maruti Suzuki, among others.
His work on Havells appliances (#RespectForWomen) is among the most awarded campaigns from India at marketing effectiveness award shows. Some of Shriram’s recent campaigns include #SellPhone, ‘no chipkoing’ and ‘Let what you love live’ for Olx; Hawa Badlegi for Havells Fans; and Micromax Canvas and Sliver, both featuring Hugh Jackman.
Iyer remarked, “The agency is started with a great ambition and the bonus is the wonderful team that I am getting to work with. This excites me and at the same time the approach would be to enrich our capabilities with what we call, ‘core plus one’. While we continue to practice our core skill sets, we will commit ourselves to adding people who bring with them a ‘+1’ skill or area of expertise. We believe this is critical and makes us ‘present ready’.”
Mullen Lintas officially launched on August 1 and is headquartered in Mumbai with offices in New Delhi (NCR) and Bangalore.