On a memorable Thursday evening of June 24, 2021, BestMediaInfo caught up with Taproot Dentsu’s young creative leadership, including Santosh Padhi, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Neeraj Kanitkar, Executive Creative Director, Yogesh Rijhwani, Executive Creative Director, Abhishek Deshwal, Executive Creative Director and Purva Ummat, Senior Creative Director, to talk about how the agency is ready to change gears and build what we may call Taproot 2.0, a future-ready, digitally strong creative powerhouse.
Recently, on the back of a global organisational redesign, dentsu International created a new structure for its creative service line in India. The restructuring brought together Dentsu Webchutney, Taproot Dentsu, WatConsult, Perfect Relations, Isobar, Dentsu One, Dentsu India and Dentsu Impact under one umbrella of dentsu Creative India.
Everyone acknowledges Taproot as the strongest creative brand India has ever produced globally. As things stand today, the future generation would read about this iconic brand only in the archives. When asked about how he felt about these changes at dentsu, Padhi said, “Taproot won’t be archived and our work will keep popping up on social media. When somebody acquires an agency, the name-change process is bound to happen sooner or later. That doesn’t mean the agency will lose the legacy, culture and momentum. In fact, it was mentioned in the dentsu-Taproot deal that third year onwards, dentsu will be added to the brand name, but we only remembered to do this in the fourth year. Eventually, it was only in the fifth year, dentsu was added as a suffix to Taproot.”
He said that because of many reasons, dentsu has to go through several changes. “Change is always good and they are doing it for the right reasons. Nobody would do massive brand name changes just for the sake of it. Although, there is still 3-4 years of time for Taproot to become dentsu,” Padhi said.
Agnello Dias, Co-Founder and CCO, Taproot Dentsu, who has been stepping back for a few years from active work, has decided to further dial down his involvement. He will continue as a consultant for key brands only. His association with dentsu International ends this month.
While Kanitkar and Rijhwani have been promoted as ECD, Deshwal and Ummat have been hired as ECD and SCD, respectively. Also, after spending over nine years with the agency, Pallavi Chakravarti, ECD, decided to join DDB Mudra as Creative Head, West. Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say that Taproot’s fresh creative team is ready to create the 2.0 version of the agency aligning with Dentsu’s global vision.
Talking about how Padhi feels about starting afresh with a new creative leadership team after 12 years, he said the team isn’t new altogether. Kanitkar, Rijhwani and many others have been a part of the system. “They have been a part of the chariot, which is of the momentum. At times, one has to repair a few wheels to make sure that the chariot’s wheels keep moving.”
Remembering Deshwal’s campaign, Padhi said ‘Jab Puraana Jayega, Tabhi To Naya Aega’. He said the younger generation should be given the chance to lead because if the ‘Pitamaahs’ of the world remain forever at the agency, then the younger generation will never get a chance to do what they are cut for.
Talking about how Taproot 2.0 would look, Kanitkar said, “It’s more or less the same. When something is the same, one doesn’t try to fix it. Taproot has a long history of creating famous work. That makes the clients famous and which is why Taproot is famous. By doing good work, fame and profits inevitably follow the agency.”
He spoke about the independence and freedom to fail one gets at the agency. “I come from a place that has a lot of hierarchy. There is always someone to clean up after you if you make a mistake. Taproot has none of that. It has absolute baptism by fire. It’s either swim or sink. Once you start to swim, you really can’t stop swimming. That opportunity, freedom, independence and the permission to fail. There is no sword hanging over us to play safe.”
Rijhwani added, "Initially, independence is scary. But this independence is what makes us who we are as an agency and as individuals as well.”
Elaborating on his vision for Taproot 2.0, he said, “I see Taproot 2.0 creating a bond with consumer 2.0. A consumer 2.0 is someone who doesn’t have time for movies, cricket and obviously doesn’t have time for advertising. When we hear a story that touches our hearts, we are not just willing to listen; we are also strongly willing to share. We envision our team creating such ideas that reach more and more people.”
Inducted recently, Ummat and Deshwal talked about their reasons for joining the agency. Ummat said, “I have tasted freedom a few times in my career. You then want to bring your essence to the work again and again. Taproot delivers to the brands on the awards front and the agency produces work that a common person appreciates. That’s the kind of work that attracted me.”
“I hope it isn’t a smooth ride. Smooth rides are boring. I want all the bumps, jumps and always want to be on the edge of my seat. I hope I am able to create a very healthy creative culture for everybody,” Ummat said.
Deshwal seconded, “It is the freedom and independence that attracted me. I shared my vision of what advertising should do. The world needs more and more progressive ideas and conversations. I want to bring that progressive sensibility to each of our ideas and every communication.
In the fun and interactive session, the team spoke about what makes Taproot an aspiring agency, about their work, films on TV vs digital, long-form copy writing, content vs ads and the challenges of working in an advertising agency.
Padhi spoke about stepping in Dias’ shoes and being more active on the client-facing front and making the agency a digitally strong one.
To watch the full interview, click: