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Ogilvy India is back to growth, says Ogilvy Worldwide CEO John Seifert

Seifert speaks to about the agency’s Indian business and its dismal show at Cannes Lions this year

John Seifert

After facing a few headwinds in the last couple of years followed by muted growth, Ogilvy India is back to growth, claimed Ogilvy Worldwide CEO John Seifert.

“Our India business is doing great. We have an amazing company in India. We are back to growth again, which is exciting,” Seifert told on the sidelines of Cannes Lions.

The agency went through a lot of senior-level changes in the past year. Seifert called the new team in place the strongest ever. “The team has never been stronger. So, I’m blessed,” he said.

Last year, Ogilvy India performed really well at Cannes Lions but this year its three shortlists could not impress jurors of their respective categories for any metal. Globally too, the agency, which got its Worldwide Chief Creative Officer in India’s celebrated adman Piyush Pandey, did not feature in the top-3 ‘Agency of the year’ and ‘Network of the year’.

Commenting on the dismal show by Ogilvy India and a poor performance by the network globally, Seifert, who was also Creative Effectiveness Jury President, told, “The few people I have talked to so far, and this was true in our jury too, said the standard for getting a shortlist and getting a metal is much harder. So, we did quite well in shortlists, but we haven’t so far converted in terms of actual Lions. So, I don’t know what the actual reasoning behind that is.”

He added, “I know this from past experience, these things keep happening. I can remember where Germany cleaned up one year, and didn’t win Lions the next. It’s like the World Cup.”

Asked if scam or lesser known creative pieces are increasingly failing to impress jurors, Seifert said, “That kind of work is disappearing. I can’t say that it’s completely gone, but one thing that now juries work very hard on is to make sure that we’ve got authentic work for authentic clients — that is really what they are committed to doing, not because it’s going to win an award but because they think it’s going to make an impact on the market. That’s one of the benefits of our category.”

“It’s already been recognised creatively. Our job is to figure out; did it make an impact on the market that we can say directly linked back to the compellingness of the idea,” Seifert added.

This year we saw most of the winners were just from five or six brands. Is it that the brands are disappearing? “I think it’s a bit of a cycle sometimes. This particular show really rewards breakthrough ideas and because you can enter them in multiple categories, there is a building effect. But it’s not unique to this year, it’s happened in the past. And it is part of what makes an interesting event. It is to see trends and the best work of the moment. You got to be brave to put your work up here,” said Seifert.

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