Sonal Dabral, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group, has decided to move on after spending more than five years with the agency. Dabral is currently serving his notice period and will be with the agency till September end to ensure smooth transition in the Group’s creative leadership.
Effective July 1, Rahul Mathew, currently the Creative Head, DDB Mudra West, will be appointed as the National Creative Director, DDB Mudra Group. Brijesh Jacob, currently the Joint Managing Director, 22feet Tribal Worldwide, will be appointed as the Group’s Chief Creative Technologist. To facilitate a seamless transition, both Jacob and Mathew will be working closely with Dabral.
In his new Group role, Mathew will be responsible for the creative product of the DDB Mudra West while Jacob will be responsible for the creative mandate of the DDB Mudra North, DDB Mudra South, DDB MudraMax (Media, OOH and Experiential) and 22feet Tribal Worldwide. This will be in addition to Jacob’s existing role as the Joint Managing Director, 22feet Tribal Worldwide. Both, Jacob and Mathew will be reporting to Vineet Gupta, Group CEO, DDB Mudra Group (Designate) and will jointly lead the overall creative product of the Group.
Deeply passionate about Advertising, Blackjack and Single Malts, Dabral studied Visual Communications at India’s foremost design school, the National Institute of Design. Instead of making him the next Paul Rand or Tibor Kalman, the universe had other designs and threw him into a career in advertising.
As Dabral’s Linkedin profile describes, destiny knows best it seems, he has led his agencies to the No.1 creative position in three different markets across Asia. He joined Ogilvy Mumbai in 1991 and, in partnership with Piyush Pandey, drove the agency from creative anonymity to India’s No.1 creative agency. Then joined Ogilvy Kuala Lumpur in 1999 and within three years as the ECD, Dabral helped Ogilvy turn into the most awarded agency and one of the top creative offices in Asia. In 2000, one of his spots won the Grand Prix at the Asian Media awards. Soon followed Malaysia’s first One Show Gold.
Ogilvy Singapore was next where Dabral led the team to become the No.1 creative office in Asia, and the third highest awarded office in the world at Cannes 2007 – a first for an Asian agency. In 1999, the Times of India, had named Dabral as one of the 50 young Indians who will lead India into the next century. Perhaps to keep that promise, Dabral returned to India in 2011 as the Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of DDB Mudra Group.
A popular speaker, Dabral has spoken at major festivals like Spikes Asia, Dubai Lynx, Cristal Advertising Festival, Turkey, LIA, besides numerous engagements across Asia. He successfully woke up a sleepy audience in Taiwan by singing an impromptu Bollywood song during a presentation sometime in 2005.
In his early days, Dabral has been a popular TV host on prime time television, a Bollywood scriptwriter and has also been channelling his passion for films into directing ad films. His future plans include being a filmmaker on weekdays and a Pro Blackjack player on weekends, all along sipping his favourite single malts.
Speaking on the transition, Dabral said, “I have enjoyed my five years in the DDB Mudra Group, working with a great young team here. I'm happy that in the past few years, we were able to put together a strong creative team with able leaders in all the different entities and offices of the Group. As I move on from the DDB Mudra Group to different creative challenges, I’m excited to announce that Rahul Mathew and Brijesh Jacob will now take on the mantle of leading the creative at the Group.”
“Both Rahul and Brij are very experienced creative leaders and will make a strong combination to lead the Group. Where Rahul brings his storytelling and advertising experience to the table – Brij's experience with technology and new media, which comes from his leading 22feet Tribal Worldwide for over a decade, makes them a strong combination for any client's business. I will work closely with both of them over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition. I wish Rahul, Brij and DDB Mudra Group all the very best,” he added.
With close to two decades of experience, Mathew has built many renowned brands and has won multiple awards along the way. He joined DDB Mudra West in 2014 as the Creative Head. Since then, he has worked closely with Sonal Dabral and Rajiv Sabnis, Managing Partner, DDB Mudra West to innovate the agency’s product consistently and to create celebrated work for agency’s diverse client roster, including brands like Big Bazaar, Century Ply, Godrej, Lipton, Johnson and Johnson, Volkswagen and Symphony to name a few.
During his earlier stints with other leading national and international agencies, Mathew added prestigious brands like Airtel, Cathay Pacific, Coca Cola, Colgate, Parachute and Tata Motors to his portfolio. He is an appreciated writer and has a known track record of guiding his teams to achieve creative and business objectives.
Jacob is one of the pioneers of ‘creativity for digital world’ in India. An SIMC alumnus, Jacob entered the ad world as a trainee copywriter with Rediffusion Y&R. Since then, he has been associated with strong agency names like Lowe Lintas. His stint with the traditional media ended after his association with Grey Worldwide as an ECD. In 2009, he moved further to be the co-founder of one of India’s top five leading digital agencies – 22feet (**Brand Equity Agency Reckoner 2017). Since 22feet’s inception, Jacob has been largely responsible for its creative and technology product of the agency’s Mumbai team.
With the ever evolving consumer dynamics, Jacob’s rational and futuristic standpoint has led the agency to win the businesses and trust of the many renowned brands that the team works with.