Close on the heels of a recent leadership restructuring, Ogilvy India is strengthening its second agency brand Soho Square by merging Bates CHI & Partners into it. The operations of the two agencies have already been consolidated under recently appointed Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Soho Square, Sumanto Chattopadhyay.
Confirming the development to BestMediaInfo.com, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy South Asia, said, “Bates and Soho are already working as a single agency. Currently, we have merged the back-end. Once the legal documentation is done, we’ll see what next is to be done.”
While the legal formalities of the merger are in process, there is no clarity yet on the name of the consolidated entity – whether it would remain Soho Square or will get a new name.
In his recent interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Pandey had said that it was time to give Soho more strength with a dedicated leadership in Sumanto.
The idea behind having second agencies, functioning independently outside the ambit of the mother agency, is to grow the business of the network by handling conflicting clients.
JWT has Contract and ADK Fortune as its second agencies. Lowe Lintas has Mullen Lintas and PointNine Lintas as its group agencies working independently. Dentsu Aegis Network has Dentsu Impact, Taproot Dentsu and Happy mcgarrybowen to handle conflicting clients. Leo Burnett has Leo Burnett Orchard and also launched Marcel in India to handle clients. In the same manner, Ogilvy had Soho Square and Bates as separate agencies to handle conflicting clients.
However, Pandey said the reason Ogilvy has second agencies not merely to grow businesses but also to provide its people more opportunities within the group.
“Bates was bought and Soho was set up not just to get more clients but to give more opportunities to our own people. I want to utilise them and give them opportunities to grow things on their own so that we have a stronger network," Pandey said.
VS Srikanth, CEO, Bates CHI & Partners, said there would be no retrenchment and not a single person from either agency will lose jobs.
Asked about how conflicting clients will be handled, Pandey said that there were no conflicting clients between the two agencies.
Srikanth added, “There is no problem with the clients. We have started informing clients wherever possible. There is no complication or confusion in anyone’s mind.”
For better synergy between the resources of two agencies, the offices have been made such that Bates CHI and Soho Square employees are made to sit together. Sources said that there could be a minor reshuffle in the creative and client servicing teams of the two agencies to bring in efficiency in the functioning of the new entity.
It is still not clear if the merger of Bates CHI with Soho Square will be unified across the world.
The consolidation comes as part of Ogilvy’s global plan called 'The Next Chapter’ under which the company brings together its separate entities and merge them to create domains of expertise. Ogilvy, across the world, is gradually moving to a single P/L system.
In January 2016, when John Seifert took over as the global CEO of Ogilvy & Mather, he decided to concise the massive structure of the WPP’s holding company Ogilvy and its sister companies.
According to the global reports, in early 2016, he presented a 17-page strategy to WPP CEO Martin Sorrell called “Ogilvy-The Next Chapter,” and mentioned that the company was not on a par with the new reality of the marketplace, which he calls the era of great fragmentation.
As part of ‘The Next Chapter’ mandate, the company has globally started transitioning from separate entities into the centres or domains of expertise.
A few months ago, Ogilvy One and Ogilvy PR were also merged with Ogilvy mainline creative.
This movement towards having one P/L is not new to the world. Publicis Communication also restructured to form one P/L. Dentsu Aegis Network already works under the one P/L structure. The networks are responding to the clients’ demands and consolidating the structures and management of its various entities.
In 2013, Ogilvy India had merged its sister concern Meridian Communications with Soho Square. But Bates continued its operations as a separate entity, making its appearance in India in 1999 when it took over Clarion and was called as Bates Clarion for six months before turning Bates India.
In 2003, WPP acquired Cordiant, bringing Bates, Fitch, 141 Worldwide and HealthWorld under its wing and it was then when Bates was re-launched as a standalone Asian agency brand. In 2005, Bates Asia acquired a 74 per cent stake in the agency of the legendary ad man, Mohammed Khan, and the Indian unit took on a new name, Bates Enterprise.
Soon after, rmg David, already part of the WPP network and managed by Josy Paul, was merged with Bates and called Bates David Enterprise. In 2007, Bates merged its activation arm in India, 141 Worldwide, with Sercon, a marketing services company it acquired. In October 2011, the ‘141’ suffix disappeared in India and it went back to being Bates India.
In February 2013, Bates partnered with CHI & Partners and was re-named as Bates CHI & Partners. In 2014, Bates acquired Bengaluru-based boutique advertising agency Temple Advertising.