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The Eveready-Rediffusion chemistry that powered Give Me Red

Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Inexgro Brand Advisory, writes about the long tie-up between Rediffusion and Eveready India, and how it led to one of the most iconic campaigns

As Ogilvy takes over the Eveready mandate, they will certainly gain the brand but not inherit the chemistry. The stuff of legends that defined the classic client-agency relationships of the ages. 

After a heady stint in JWT, I joined Rediffusion in 2004, excited but apprehensive. The latter mostly about the culture I was entering, from the seemingly majestic standards of the earlier employer. Very quickly I realised that the new place was stickier than the old, largely due to the graces of Eveready. 

It smelt like home the moment I walked into Rainey Park, escorted by professional mentor Amitava Sinha and welcomed by the sharply engaging Jayashree Mohanka. Soon, I met the others in the system, both ours and theirs, and quickly realised that there was nothing called us and them. Instead, a set of cohesive collaborators out to make the brand rather legendary, nothing less and not much else.

Of course there was discerning objectivity, with shortcomings in delivery and especially thinking censured promptly. But the tonality was neither morbid nor accusatory, and reciprocity in feedback was invariably welcomed. I have sincerely not witnessed this consistent spontaneity, culture imbibed and not anecdotal, in any other twosome including ITC and Pepsi with JWT.

Every opera has its designated peaks and, in this case, they were the boardroom encounters convened by Deepak Khaitan and Arun Nanda. Clearly a corporate ‘jugalbandi’ between two masters of their trade, each enriching the other in the quest of a greater glory. Folks like me felt like empowered percussionists, valued not just for able ‘sangat’ but also the necessary bursts of solo splendour. Far too much has been written and workshopped about agency client marriages, nothing surpasses the learnings from these sessions. 

The relationship was cemented by other significant infusions, not least of which was the en suite Rest House in the Eveready HQ. Where guest actors from Mumbai and Delhi were hosted with grace and the traditional Bengali spread for lunch would surpass the finest eateries. In travels to other regions, the culture was effortlessly extended as regional sales teams befriended us as if an internal department. 

In modern times, even the most rock-solid alliances are being terminated, quite like the scorecard of urban divorces. Perhaps the options are many in the market or maybe the clients of the day are more trigger happy due to unforgiving business pressures. Our definition of relationships has also been suitably, or unsuitably, modified in this new age of rapid-fire job shifts and the gig economy. Invariably, such terminations are not truly about the quality of work but instead about the chronic obsession for trying the newest big thing, also an alibi for shielding client careers.

As Ogilvy starts its innings with Eveready, the work is highly likely to be appreciable. But they are clearly on a transactional tenure, the shopping basket out at the earliest hint of unfavourable outcomes. Nothing fundamentally wrong about this, I guess, but not much right either.

As I read about the departure from Reduffusion, I can't help rolling back to the Ballygunge address where so many memorable encounters were orchestrated. A legacy bungalow with a legacy value structure, leading to one of the greatest alliances in the Indian marketing-advertising corridor. Thoughtfully built by people who truly knew and lovingly enjoyed by all who were blessed to be in the know. 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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