We aim to reinstate the agency's glory and break into top 5: Publicis Worldwide India ECDs

Highlighting the notion that great creative agencies are built on great cultures, Publicis Worldwide India's ECDs Pratheeb Ravi and Srijan Shukla spoke to about the agency's five cultural tenets, philosophy, goals and objectives and much more

Shreya Negi
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We aim to reinstate the agency's glory and break into top 5: Publicis Worldwide India ECDs

(L) Pratheeb Ravi and Srijan Shukla (R)

Having joined Publicis Worldwide India as Executive Creative Directors in 2022, Pratheeb Ravi and Srijan Shukla got the rare opportunity to set in place the culture of the creative agency that aims to reinstate itself as the glorious creative powerhouse it was earlier.

For both of them who have spent over two decades in various creative agencies across several roles and mustered the intrinsic cultural values from their past organisations, this had been one of the core responsibilities because even though it's a time-consuming process, it is great creative agencies that are built on great culture.

“We went back to the drawing board and came up with the five cultural tenets that PWW India abides by and that has been extremely exciting because we believe that if we stick to those strong principles, the process of helping the agency regain its stature of a creative force will get easier,” Shukla said.

Adding to this, Ravi also pointed out that owing to the same, the agency has not just been able to attract talents but also clients in the past year.

Throwing light on the five tenets of PWW India, Shukla stated, “Our first principle, ‘Courage is contagious’, essentially means that if there’s one person brave enough in the room to back the work and stand for the right thing for the brand, everyone else gets the courage.”

Being courageous is also about the knowledge that one has with regards to the brand and the work that one does because that is what makes one defend his/her work and do great work eventually, Ravi added.

Shukla then went on to point out that the second tenet that PWW India believes in is “Fight the bullshit” because even though the industry is all about talking to people at large, the conversations that happen in meetings are often loaded with jargons and just meandering around the topic.

“Just use simple words about how humans talk because, at the end of the day, you are trying to communicate with the people on the road on the streets,” he suggested.

That being said, Ravi opined that the reason behind people using a slew of jargons while they talk, many times, is because they themselves are not clear about what they're saying and as a result, they tend to hide behind those words.

Cutting the bullshit in Shukla’s views helps not just save time but also helps one create better work.

The third principle that the agency as well as the industry both nurture, in Shukla’s view, has been that of being supportive of the inclusivity factor as everyone brings their own unique self.

“As a result, our third tenet is ‘You fit in when you don't fit in’ because if you bring what is, this business becomes more exciting and diverse at the end of the day, making the work that the agency creates richer and more nuanced,” he said.

Taking up from there was Ravi who stated, “Everyone needs to have a gang which backs them up which is why our fourth principle is about having a team where you need to identify with people and the kind of people that one really wants to relate to, irrespective of the departments that they are, because that is important and is not seen in many agencies, today.”

“It shouldn't be a creative gang versus an account management gang but something where people from different departments can also come together,” he added.

Furthermore, Shukla stated that the fifth principle of PWW India is “All the good ones are gone, be the new good one” because there is nothing that cannot be said with utmost courtesy which is why one need not be harsh or rude in putting across their point and that is a very underrated virtue in corporate and professional setups.

“At the end of the day our business is all about people, which is why it's more important to win hearts more than brands and if you win people's hearts then it's easier than anything else,” Ravi added.

Having set all the five cultural tenets in place, Shukla stated that the two ECDs along with the PWW India leadership have also set a philosophy for the agency, i.e.- Creativity that drives brand value, which is achieved through these principles which further helps the agency in creating effective work for clients.

“Our work for HDFC Mutual Fund is a live example of how we have taken a category and grown the category with a big idea using our philosophy. One of the other big campaigns that has come again on the back of the same philosophy is going to be our upcoming work for Axis Bank,” he added.

Commenting on what really separates Publicis Worldwide India from other agencies in the country, the two ECDs shared that while the fact that PWW India is a part of the Publicis network that has a strong legacy of over two decades in the country obviously helps, it is the assurance and the whole thing of doing great work that influences the talent’s attraction towards the agency.

In terms of the clients, Ravi emphasised that one of the big differentiators is that brands don’t come to the agency for just advertising, but a mix of services such as Digital, Media, PR, Data etc. as the Group overall serves as one single shop that has the adequate bandwidth to cater to or even integrate multiple solutions to meet the clients’ needs.

Spotlighting the objectives that they’ve set aside for the agency, Shukla stated that the near future goal is to make PWW India regain its glory of being the creative powerhouse and be counted amongst the top five creative agencies in India.

“Apart from this, we also want to really partner with young or just fresh out of the oven brands to not only build them but also help them grow and scale. Also, we want to do big idea work, which of late, we’ve been seeing campaigns that are one-off as opposed to the carrying forward of a central idea for several years and was really a legacy kind of work,” he added.

Adding to this, Ravi also shared that since both he and Shukla have also taken the creative onus for Saatchi & Saatchi Propagate (a Publicis owned Digital agency), it becomes much more interesting and challenging for both of them as they’ve to wear two different hats for the two different agencies and build them basis the creative output that they produce which needs to be seen as the best on both digital and creative front.

“Both SSP and PWW have a lot of integrated mandates and legacy relationships such as Enamor, Times News Network, Zee, etc. We basically function on a long-term relationship with clients and that is what they also come to us for which is why we always try to go with the big idea,” Shukla opined.

Upon being questioned as to what the future of advertising holds, especially with the incoming of AI into the space, Shukla stated that if used intelligently or smartly, tech interventions such as Generative AI will also aid agencies in getting greater efficiencies, productivity and even creating big work which will also have great value for the brands.

“Being an era fueled by tech and other innovations, this will be the era of big ideas and that is precisely where the really creative people, agencies and networks will thrive,” he said.

To support his take here, he pointed out that tech tools such as Generative AI will help agencies deliver on the parameters of greater speed and efficiency where there is a time crunch and give one space, thereby enabling one to think of the bigger ideas such as solving a business problem with a big idea.

“Today a lot of people and even brands have lost track of what exactly is a big idea, which is why it's for this whole tech through which we can actually open up the mind to actually show what is a big idea and to what level can one take the bigness to. But the big idea will always be a human idea!” Ravi added.

Commenting on how important of a role industry awards play for the agency in today’s day and age, the two PWW India ECDs opined that while awards are important for creative people as they tend to be a recognition, the only thing is that they should be driving the core of creative agencies, which is to come up with work that helps the business in fulfilling one of the business objectives, which is very important.

In fact, an agency or any creative professional’s work has to be holistic in its approach to benefiting the brand as the greatest sign of good work is that it travels across, however, ad campaigns should not be done solely for the heck of it or for winning awards at industry events, Shukla suggested.

Awards philosophy culture building Pratheeb Ravi rebuilding Srijan Shukla PWW creative agency digital agency Publicis Publicis Worldwide India Saatchi & Saatchi Propagate big idea tech