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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Clients are getting comfortable with smaller ad agencies: Santosh Padhi

This Q&A first appeared in DNA Money edition on Saturday, Mar 23, 2013.

At the recent Adfest 2013 event in Pattaya, Thailand, advertising agency Taproot India (now part of Dentsu India Group) won 11 ‘metals’, the most-awarded among the 33 offices from 16 Asian countries. Santosh Padhi, Taproot’s chief creative officer, feels although success is second nature to the agency, being adjudged the ‘Creative Agency of the Year’ was still 'a big surprise'. Excerpts from the interview:

You reaped a bumper harvest at Adfest 2013.Yes, we bagged 11 metals. That is a huge number for us. We always thought we have a great body of work and will do fairly well at Adfest which applauds Asian work, unlike Cannes and a few other festivals. But we never thought we will be adjudged one of the best offices in Asia. That’s really a big surprise for us and we are all under tremendous pressure now to ensure we are able to retain the market credibility. I think it’s a good pressure to have.

How have things changed at Taproot after Dentsu’s entry?
To be frank, nothing really has changed in the way Taproot is operating. They are doing their own stuff and so are we. The only exception is in the reporting structure, in terms of finances, where we are doing it every quarter now. Dentsu has given us a free hand and the management feels we are running the business fantastically, so there is really no need for them to dictate terms.

Besides, the Dentsu management has assured us of all the support we would need to deliver the best possible results for our clients. While we have been doing well on our own, NourishCo (the Tata Global Beverages and PepsiCo India joint venture) is one incident wherein a joint pitch was made with Dentsu. NourishCo wanted more than a creative thing, so we leveraged on Dentsu’s expertise in other areas like activation, research, so on. I think we will have many more such opportunities to work together in future and deliver something that’s more solid.

One-stop solutions providers are in. Is there enough scope for creative-focused entities now?
There is a need for every sort of service in the industry. While some clients believe in agencies that are an end-to-end service or solutions provider, there are others that believe in going to the specialist agencies for solutions. This approach, in my opinion, is the new-age thinking from the client’s side. From what I see, there is enough business for all formats and clients will choose based on what it is that they are really looking for, in terms of delivery. Clients these days are very matured and know who is delivering what. In fact, clients are getting more and more comfortable with smaller agencies as they know that the guy sitting across the table is also the guy who will be working on the campaign.

Has there been a change in the client’s perception about Taproot now that it’s part of a global advertising giant?
We’d taken our clients into confidence when doing the deal with Dentsu and they knew we’d continue to work and service them the same way as before. So, no significant change in perception there. From Taproot’s perspective, I think we were lucky to get assignments from the likes of Pepsi, Airtel, Marico. But if you want more bigger brands like these in the portfolio, you’d either have to be extremely lucky again and again and again or partner somebody and by default you get the big canvas. One of the reasons we partnered Dentsu is that they have some really big clients who will launch products and brands in the Indian market and we will get to work on their campaigns

Follow Ashish K Tiwari on twitter @ashishktiwari

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