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In-depth: When will Delhi’s creative circuit get its due?

Most events, seminars and even the Emvies and Effies awards happen in Mumbai but not in Delhi. Also, while Delhi has many creative agencies, the creative heads prefer to stay in Mumbai. So why is this preference to Mumbai over Delhi? speaks to a few industry stalwarts to find out

Yes, Mumbai is definitely the financial capital and the fashion capital of the country. But is it also the creative capital of the country? While most of the creative and media agencies are headquartered in Mumbai, the client businesses and brands are largely in Delhi.

But most of the events, seminars and even the awards for the Emvies and Effies mostly take place in Mumbai. But why not in Delhi? One wonders when the Delhi creative circuit will get its due. spoke to a few industry stalwarts for their views.

Kapil Arora

Kapil Arora, President, North, Ogilvy India, is of the opinion that most head offices of agencies being in Mumbai, naturally, the centre of gravity has been there. “But there are also examples of strong Delhi offices or agencies based in Delhi only. JWT Delhi was perhaps stronger than the Mumbai office. So there are examples like that,” he said.

Hemant Mishra

Hemant Mishra, Managing Director, Magic Circle, said, “One of the reasons why Mumbai is the hub is because large clients are headquartered in Mumbai. But times have changed and a number of large clients are now based in Delhi.”

He added, “However, 90% of the agencies are still headquartered in Mumbai. So, the agency CEOs and MDs sit in Mumbai, which is why the Ad Club is in Mumbai and AAAI is much stronger in Mumbai than in Delhi and Delhi guys report to the guys in Mumbai. So they are in a position to interact with the institutions in Mumbai or take any calls because that is being done by their MDs who are sitting in Mumbai.”

Viral Pandya

Viral Pandya, Partner and CCO, COG Digital and Design, said, “As far as the business of advertising is concerned, Delhi is still number one, and is ahead of Mumbai. But I think it is an underdog.”

Vivek Srivastava

Vivek Srivastava, President, Delhi Ad Club, remarked, “The Delhi creative circuit is a rather busy one. The volume of business transacted here beats that of the so-called commercial capital of India. That apart, even in terms of work being rewarded nationally and internationally, Delhi-NCR scores big. You just need to look at the metal tally and you will know.”

In the last 10 years, the size of the markets has come closer. In fact, the size of the Delhi advertising industry today has outgrown Mumbai, some believe. “So clearly there is a change in weightages. If nothing else, there is an equality of opportunity that exists, in terms of city itself,” said Arora.

Is there a lack of talent and creativity in Delhi?

Pandya feels there are very few people who are hungry to learn from events, seminars and award functions; otherwise 90% are just churning work day in and day out. “It’s very important but I don’t think Delhiites are very much engaged to do all this. The ad people in Delhi are not bothered and many of them don’t get the right direction. When they enter advertising as youngsters, they have no idea what they are doing. They are just churning out work,” he said.

He added, “I would blame them also partially. They have the thinking that they are only working for money and if they would get Rs 5,000 more at another agency, they would join that agency. So there is no loyalty, there is no hunger to burn the midnight oil. When we were working, we used to spend 3-4 nights in the agency, so that kind of hunger is not seen in the youngsters in Delhi like what we see in Mumbai. In Mumbai, one thinks like a professional, acts like a professional and works like a professional.”

Mishra differs, “No, that’s not true. Talent is around brands, if there are great brands, there will be great talent around them. There are very good brands in Delhi, and there is very good talent around them too. Except that the creative head is again placed in Mumbai.”

“As far as talent goes, our industry faces a challenge there. They don’t pay as well as in the marketing field, that’s why planning and servicing are poor across. But creative talent will find its way to the brand,” he appended.

Srivastava, too, is of the same view, “I totally disagree with this statement. It is not fair to the calibre and capability of the strategy and creative professionals out here. The creative talent is thriving in the agencies in Delhi. There was never a better time than now to be in our business in this city. We have mega brands with big budgets and footprint to enable daring and different ideas. This point probably would have been relevant in the ’80s. Definitely not true now.”

Clients in Delhi, agencies in Mumbai

So while the client spread has changed and a large section of the clients are headquartered in Delhi, agency structures haven’t changed. And very few agencies are headquartered in Delhi; actually none of the big agencies are. Only the smaller and mid-level agencies are headquartered in Delhi, which don’t have too much of a say here.

And it’s not just the creative agencies; it’s also about the media agencies. “The money comes from the media agencies and the clients, and they are sitting in Mumbai. A lot of media companies are headquartered in Mumbai, so stories begin there, events begin there, activations begin there. And it’s become a clique,” clarified Mishra.

“The question is how do we break that clique? It’s very difficult to break that clique because people today are more worried about getting the work done. And the people who have more time are the MDs and they are sitting in Mumbai. It’s only the top honchos who have some time in their hand to look at relationships and their contribution to the industry, etc.,” he added.

“Clients are in Delhi, but agency heads are not in Delhi. This has stayed in Mumbai, and I don’t see it coming to Delhi,” opined Mishra.

What efforts have been taken?

Srivastava pointed out, “Delhi-NCR has its fair share of action. Across emerging and new-age modes of brand building and communication, we have regular events in the city. A lot of interactions are being curated in the digital, content and experiential space. If you attend these, you will see how vibrant the community is and well networked too. In fact we have no problems at all in attracting talent from other cities, Mumbai included.”

There are some agencies, brands and award shows that are beginning to recognise and acknowledge this change, but it is still slow, early days.

For example, the Zee Melt awards done by Kyoorius are planned alternately in Mumbai and Delhi. Or the recent TOI Flow festival held in Delhi. So there are some people who are taking an effort like that. But for the traditional bastions like even the Effies, while the judging is done in Delhi and Bangalore, the awards are still in Mumbai.

“Sooner or later, I am hoping they will see the merits of representation here. I think they are trying to do it like the Ad Club, Mumbai has become Ad Club, India, but these are still tiny steps. Like if they do plan to host the Effies here in Delhi, that would be a huge step,” said Arora.

Srivastava said, “Our initiatives have led to a 20% YOY growth in our membership over the last three years. Our focus is on providing a platform to professionals, especially the younger ones to interact and be recognised.”

Delhi Ad Club (DAC) has knowledge sessions covering all facets of brand communication, fun trivia stuff like a marketing quiz, stand-up act evenings and the flagship event DAC-SAARC Awards for Creative Excellence.

“In the last three years, it has grown in stature supported by global and indigenous agencies in Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai, etc. Not only this, we get participation from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It’s gaining in popularity and our team at DAC is confident that in a year two we will be up there among the top two recognitions in the region,” Srivastava concluded.

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