Recently, Omnicom brought TBWA, BBDO and DDB Mudra Group under the newly formed Omnicom Advertising Services in India and named Aditya Kanthy as its CEO.
As per Kanthy, “Omnicom Advertising Services will fuel the growth of each independent agency brand that operates in the market. It will facilitate a more synchronised and unified operation, offering support to BBDO, TBWA and DDB Mudra Group and enabling them to tap into the strength of Omnicom's network.”
Kanthy, also the CEO of DDB Mudra Group, began his career in Mudra in 2003 as a strategic planner, taking on various responsibilities over the years, including Chief Strategy Officer.
In situations where companies are brought together to enhance coordination and synchronisation for improved business outcomes, it's often the case that the unique cultures of individual agencies are overlooked. This oversight can ultimately hinder the original purpose of consolidating agencies.
However, as per Kanthy, Omnicom Advertising Services is designed to protect and nurture the independent agency cultures at the three agencies that are brought under its umbrella. “Unlike the traditional approach of holding companies, Omnicom has consistently emphasised the significance of the unique cultures and strengths inherent in the global networks of BBDO, TBWA, and DDB Mudra,” he said.
Along with speaking about the focus areas of the newly formed Omnicom Advertising Services, he spoke about the power of creativity, big ideas, and future-ready agency models.
Read the freewheeling chat to learn more:
Why bring TBWA, BBDO, and DDB Mudra Group under the Omnicom Advertising Services umbrella?
The idea is to organise ourselves in a way in which Omnicom, in its entirety, helps fuel the growth of each independent agency brand that operates in the market. Omnicom Advertising Services will facilitate a more synchronised and unified operation, offering support to these exceptional agencies and enabling them to tap into the strength of Omnicom's network. This approach allows us to provide superior services and solutions to our clients, attract and retain top talent, and gain an advantage in terms of innovation and forward-thinking capabilities that our clients seek.
How will Omnicom Advertising Services preserve the unique cultures of these agencies? This query stems from the belief that, in advertising agencies, conserving culture should always take precedence over financial statements.
Omnicom Advertising Services is designed to preserve and nurture the independent agency cultures at the three agencies. Unlike the traditional approach of holding companies, Omnicom has consistently emphasised the significance of the unique cultures and strengths inherent in the global networks of BBDO, TBWA, and DDB Mudra Group. These agencies have a longstanding reputation as some of the world's most creative firms, and Omnicom's role is dedicated to bolstering and expanding these brands. With the exact same spirit, these agencies will operate under the Omnicom Advertising Services banner. Omnicom's approach to its creative agency brands has always been guided by the belief that individual agency cultures are super critical to their success and will continue to be so.
Does that mean TBWA, BBDO, and DDB Mudra Group will continue to function independently?
We have been very clear about it consistently. This is a move to strengthen the individual agencies and not to club them all under one cluster of strategic moves. If you look at Omnicom's history, it is a company built by creative people who believe in upholding an ad agency’s creative reputation above and beyond anything else.
Is it just India restructuring?
Omnicom has operated in this form in its media business for many years through the Omnicom Media Group and has supported PHD, OMD, and Hearts and Science across multiple markets. This model has been tried and tested and has worked exceptionally well in many markets worldwide. In this form, it's happening in India for the first time on the creative side. India's market has strategic importance for Omnicom globally. Therefore, given the opportunities, Omnicom wants to ensure we are ahead and prepared.
Would Omnicom Advertising Services appoint a Group Chief Creative Officer? Also, who will assume your role at DDB Mudra Group?
No. Omnicom Advertising Services is not a superstructure designed to create operational complexity for the three agencies. It's a structure designed to serve our clients. So, any decision that creates more operational complexity will go against the grain of what we're doing.
I continue to hold the CEO role at DDB Mudra Group. I've worked at the company for a long time, and we've got an incredible team here. So, we will continue to function in the same form and fashion.
How are the three agencies' employees reacting to the development?
It's no surprise that everyone is welcoming it. People working at TBWA, DDB and BBDO understand that Omnicom Advertising Services has been designed to make their respective agencies even stronger. The employees are fully aware that the agency cultures and unique brand identities remain safeguarded, with these strategic adjustments aimed at fostering tighter coordination within Omnicom. This enhanced alignment is set to facilitate growth and the delivery of even more exceptional service to their clients.
Now that all three agencies will work in enhanced coordination, how will Omnicom Advertising Services ensure individual agency (be it TBWA, DDB or BBDO) clients’ business confidentialities are not compromised?
Clients understand that holding groups are not new entities and have been managing and respecting client confidentiality for several decades across the world. Taking care of client confidentiality, the concentration of NDAs, and the processes is part of a well-oiled machine and is taken with the utmost seriousness.
How will the formation of Omnicom Advertising Services impact day-to-day operations and client-agency relationships?
Each client operates at a certain scale, in a certain context, and has a requirement to suit their particular needs at any given point in time. Day-to-day operations will be different for each client and will be taken care of as per the situation.
What are the immediate priorities and areas of focus for Omnicom Advertising Services?
The top focus areas where a more coordinated and consolidated Omnicom effort will help are talent, building future-facing capabilities, and working on clients’ needs and opportunities for growth.
Could you please clarify what you mean by "future-facing capabilities" from your perspective?
There should be a resolute and unwavering belief in the influence of creativity, as it plays a pivotal role in propelling the growth of brands. The manner in which creativity is manifested, the context it thrives in, and the forms it assumes within the evolving landscape are constantly changing. The exciting new opportunity lies in the ability to fully embrace this dynamism across the entire consumer journey.
Omnicom Group has future-facing capabilities spanning a range of services, including digital transformation, analytics, experiential marketing, and performance marketing. There are numerous intriguing avenues for these capabilities to unfold, and our current organisational structure positions us to make more informed decisions and develop superior solutions for our clients.
What do you see as the essential requirements for the survival and relevance of creative agencies in the future?
The pivotal quality of a forward-thinking agency lies in its capacity to harness creativity for the advancement of business growth. However, merely professing this isn't sufficient; it must be consistently put into practice. Those who acknowledge the influential role of brands and possess the adeptness to apply creativity are the ones who yield exceptional and impactful results.
Why has there been a noticeable increase in network agencies focusing on the Indian market recently?
While there is positive momentum at the macroeconomic level, India’s level of creative output has consistently improved in the last five years. When our talent starts to punch at a higher level, then the world notices. If we continue to do the basics right, then there is a very good chance that we will have talent from this market driving growth for these global companies. This, in all likelihood, explains the heightened interest in India's creative industries.
Several industry leaders point out that in order to be ‘always on’, the advertising industry is neglecting the power of ‘big ideas’. What are your thoughts on this?
I don't lament it. I believe change is constant. We have to acknowledge that we are in an environment where what we do and how we do it must remain pertinent to that context. In the end, be it ‘always on’ or ‘big ideas’, it all boils down to creativity, the most potent tool for driving growth. As an industry, we have to do both of those things. While it’s challenging and a reality, we have to do the work that needs to be done in response to the environment. Equally, we need to have the conviction to build big ideas that give scale and fame to brands.
What are the things that bother you in the way creative setups are run and the way client-agencies relations work in India?
The fact that we complain as an industry more than we should bothers me. We are in an incredible business that makes a difference to clients, society, and culture. I only wish we practised our profession with more integrity and seriousness to always remain relevant.
Does that mean you think there are no problematic areas in the advertising business?
No, of course, there are issues. But we have everything within our means to be able to control the outcomes if we practice our trade well, consistently, and in a focused manner.
You've remained with Mudra for over two decades; what factors contributed to your long-standing commitment to the agency?
I've been lucky to have an incredible group of people that I've enjoyed working with throughout my time here. Also, the company has grown and evolved, and it's a very important part of staying in a company. We've never been complacent or rested on our laurels. We're pushing every day to be the best version of what we can be.