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Dentsu to restructure its India business into seven agency brands spread across creative, media, CXM: India CEO Anand Bhadkamkar

In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Bhadkamkar reveals the group's plan to consolidate its India offerings and the future of its top agencies, including Taproot and Webchutney

Dentsu International is going to undertake a massive restructuring exercise, which will see several popular agency brands ceasing to exist and their capabilities getting merged with other brands. 

According to Anand Bhadkamkar, the India CEO for Dentsu International, all agency brands will merge into six globally and seven in India.

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Also read: Taproot Dentsu rejigs management under Santosh Padhi as Agnello Dias and Umesh Shrikhande depart

"We would have three key service lines: creative, media and CXM. Globally in creative, there are two brands: Isobar and Dentsu mcgarrybowen. On the media side, it would be Carat, Dentsu X and iProspect. On CXM, it is Merkle. In India, we have an additional media brand, which is our OOH brand Posterscope," he said.

Talking about the future of popular agencies such as Taproot, Webchutney and WatConsult, he said, "In the future, the plan is to align them with our global vision. But the capabilities of these agencies will remain the same."

"As we move forward, they will start getting closer to Dentsu mcgarrybowen and Isobar. The other creative agencies will come under the umbrella of these two flagship brands," he added.

Dentsu international is planning to reduce agency brands from something like 160 to 6, plus key local brands wherever appropriate. Which three agency brands will be your bet for the future and which agencies will be absorbed within them?

Globally, Dentsu International is going to consolidate its 160 agencies into six brands. We would have three key service lines: creative, media and CXM. Globally in creative, there are two brands: Isobar and Dentsu mcgarrybowen. On the media side, it would be Carat, Dentsu X and iProspect. On CXM, it is Merkle. In India, we have an additional media brand, which is our OOH brand Posterscope. In India as well, by 2022-end, all Dentsu agencies will move towards the same game plan. There were several agencies that joined the Dentsu portfolio globally as well as in India. Now the focus is to consolidate them and make them a part of the six global brands. Although, in India, Posterscope will be the seventh brand that will exist. 

Does that mean Taproot Dentsu, Dentsu Webchutney, Dentsu Impact, Dentsu India and agencies other than the six you mentioned will cease to exist?

Taproot Dentsu and Webchutney still remain very strong brands. In the future, the plan is to align them with our global vision. But the capabilities of these agencies will remain the same. For Taproot it is creativity and for Webchutney it is digital prowess. These capabilities will continue for our clients.

Every agency has its own journey and creates a brand for itself. But one fine day due to consolidation, it ceases to exist as a separate identity altogether. Would Taproot and Webchutney as separate brand cease to exist?

Yes. But the legacy continues. They are local marquee brands that will continue to shine. As we move forward, they will start getting closer to Dentsu mcgarrybowen and Isobar. The other creative agencies will come under the umbrella of these two flagship brands (mcgarrybowen and Isobar). 

How are the leaders at various Dentsu agencies reacting to the changes that will happen due to the consolidation?

This is a journey that Dentsu has taken globally. All the leaders are equally participating in the journey. Changes and transitions have their own challenges. In our case, this transition has a participative nature and we are going towards that growth journey together. 

Quite a few senior leaders have already left the agency. Is consolidation of agencies a reason for this move? 

The people who left the agency are not because of their poor performance but due to the consolidation process. There are several opportunities also for our leadership team in this consolidation process. But their aspirations also need to match Dentsu’s vision. The ones who have left us are wonderful leaders and stalwarts. All of them have contributed to where we are today. 

The recent communication from Taproot ended by saying that the organisational changes underway at dentsu international will further help the agency craft a future-ready, digitally strong offering. If we talk about two years down the line, what will the future look like for Taproot Dentsu?

Globally, mcgarrybowen and Isobar are going to be the two creative powerhouses across markets. Like this, the clients will get scaled operations as well as niche solutions.

We always hear that creative agencies need to be ahead of the curve in view of the growth of digital and the fast-changing consumer. Did you ever feel Taproot was left behind the curve?

Taproot wasn’t left behind the curve. Any client solution is always idea-led. Taproot’s USP is to catch into the core idea for the brand, understanding the clients business problems and deep understanding of the consumer. Digital, print and TV etc. are mediums to reach the consumer with the messaging. Taproot hasn’t been in the business of digital but a full-fledged creative agency. For core digital capabilities, we have Isobar, Webchutney and WatConsult, Sokrati and iProspect as specialist digital agencies. We don’t need to create a similar speciality. That is the whole idea of global consolidation as well. Taproot builds the core idea that translates across mediums. Taproot’s recent Facebook campaign is one of the examples showing its creative strength.

Have you decided who will lead creative, media and CXM lines in India?

Divya Karani heads the media service line in India. We’ll be announcing other leaderships soon. 

Did Agnello Dias leave because of the consolidation process? 

No. Aggie has been stepping back for a while now and still continues to associate with Taproot now as well. For the last couple of years, he has been working as a creative mentor, but not in an active role. It all comes down to everyone’s journeys. At Taproot, Ayesha Ghosh has taken charge from Umesh Shrikhande, who took retirement. Santosh Padhi continues to lead and guide the team.

Dentsu already has Webchutney and WatConsult as its leading digital agencies. Won’t a digitally strong Taproot become their look alike?

It’s not. Taproot’s core strength is “idea”. Those ideas are platform-agnostic. Webchutney is a digital-first agency. It is also our Cannes specialist (laughs).

Would Taproot and Webchutney be a part of mcgarrybowen or Isobar? 

This is something we are working on as part of our brand journeys. 

We also keep hearing that digital agencies have lesser margins or profitability when compared to agencies such as Taproot with strong profitability. What would be the best possible scenario to keep Taproot’s profitability intact?

The commercial sense is always for the clients when they get any solutions. Taproot has done that very well. Taproot understands its clients' problems well and comes up with solutions. Once, the idea gets cracked, which Taproot does really well, it drives the commercial sense and profitability. Whereas digital by nature is extremely competitive. 

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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