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2018 at a glance: Creativity; M&As; Machine Learning - Robust year for Advertising

Disruption was the name of the game for the Advertising sector in 2018. There was disruption in the way agencies approached Big Data, expanded ideas into creative landmarks, gave a new direction to cause-led communication. 2018 was also a year when creativity forged a unique bond with Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Programmatic, Internet of Things. 

There were quite a few strategic mergers & acquisitions as well as some key exits and appointments. 

Adgully does a recap of the major developments in Advertising in the year about to end. 

Veteran ad man Alyque Padamsee passes away 

Father of Indian advertising and theatre doyen Alyque Padamsee passed away on November 17, 2018. Padamsee turned Lintas into one of the top creative agencies in India and was the creative brain behind iconic campaigns such as Lalitaji for Surf, Cherry Charlie for Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish, the MRF Muscle Man, the Liril girl in the waterfall, the Kamasutra couple, and Hamara Bajaj. The industry paid rich tributes to the ad guru. Josy Paul specially mentioned about Padamsee and the Zeigarnik Effect

Piyush Pandey named Ogilvy’s Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide 

The year brought good tidings for Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Ogilvy India, who has been appointed as the agency’s next Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide effective January 1, 2019.  In addition, Ogilvy also announced that it will expand its Worldwide Creative Council from 12 members to 20 members. Pandey’s appointment and the corresponding Worldwide Creative Council expansion is the next step in the execution of Ogilvy’s Next Chapter transformation. 

Lion of St Mark honour for Piyush Pandey & Prasoon Pandey at Cannes Lions 2018 

Relive all the excitement of the global glory as Piyush Pandey shared his joy with Adgully on being honoured with the Lion of St. Mark award, his experience at Cannes Lions this year, evolution of the Indian advertising industry, the state of Indian creativity today and why he refuses to be bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. 

Creativity at the core of WPP’s £300 mn restructure to deliver growth 

WPP has announced the results of its strategic review, setting out a three-year plan of “radical evolution” to return the business to growth. The strategy reflects a new vision for WPP as a leader in creativity and technology. WPP expects to deliver organic growth (defined as like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs growth) in line with its peers at a headline operating profit margin (excluding associates) of at least 15 per cent by the end of 2021 as a result of the strategy. 

WPP creates new brand experience agency VMLY&R 

In September, WPP announced the creation of a new agency, VMLY&R, uniting two leading brands to deliver a contemporary, fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients on a global scale. VMLY&R’s proposition will combine brand experience and brand advertising, drawing on the complementary expertise of VML and Y&R to create connected brands that drive value for clients. 

JWT, Wunderman merged 

In November, WPP announced that Wunderman and J. Walter Thompson would unite to form Wunderman Thompson, a creative, data and technology agency built to inspire growth for its clients. The new organisation will be distinctively positioned as a provider of end-to-end solutions – through creative, data, commerce, consulting and technology services – at a global scale. 

M&C Saatchi acquires Scarecrow 

In April came the news of Scarecrow Communications’ acquisition by international network, M&C Saatchi. Though Scarecrow has retained its own identity, it is now rechristened Scarecrow M&C Saatchi. The agency is operating with full creative freedom, exactly the way it used to. However, as expected, there is an integration with the global financial processes and compliance practices. 

WPP and Dentsu’s stake bought back by Rediffusion 

Changes were afoot at Rediffusion as well. In August, Rediffusion’s founders, Diwan Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishnan bought back 40 per cent stake held jointly by Young & Rubicam, part of WPP, and Dentsu and shed Y&R from its name. Post the deal, Nanda and Balakrishnan have complete control over Rediffusion and its second agency Everest. 

Along with this, Rediffusion put in a new management structure in place as Dhunji Wadia retired as Group President, a post he was holding since December 2014. Wadia had joined Rediffusion in 2010. 

In December, Rediffusion unveiled a new identity to arm itself with new tools and a new mindset to navigate the brave new world of brand building. Rediffusion’s close association with Rediff.com and its technological know-how and prowess gives the agency the confidence that it is now better poised to live up to its new name of – Rediffusion Brand Solutions, in keeping with its goal of being a one-stop solution for brands and the problems that they face in the marketplace. 

Grey Group to acquire majority stake in digital agency Autumn 

In October, Grey Group, a WPP company, agreed to acquire a majority stake in Autumn Worldwide, a leading independent social media and digital marketing agency, based in India. 

The acquisition will bring additional benefits to clients of Autumn, including access to Grey Group’s extensive international network as well as to offerings such as RC&M, one of India’s largest rural communications & experiential marketing service providers. Similarly, Grey Group’s clients from across the globe will benefit from the social media and digital marketing expertise provided by Autumn. 

Bobby Pawar bids adieu to Publicis; appointed Chairman & CCO of Havas Group India 

In November, Bobby Pawar announced his decision to move on as Chief Creative Officer and Managing Director with Publicis Worldwide India after a stint of five years. Pawar will be leaving after serving his notice period, which ends in January 2019. Post this, he will be taking charge as Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of Havas Group India. 

Pawar’s appointment is in sync with an aggressive growth strategy that will further integrate the management structure of Havas Group’s India operations to create a simple, unified and client-centric organisation in line with the Group’s “Together” strategy. 

Publicis Groupe Appoints Leadership Team to Lead Indian Market 

The team comprises executive leaders in India & Sri Lanka, including: Anupriya Acharya, CEO of Publicis Media India; Saurabh Varma, CEO of Publicis Communications South Asia; Surbhi Gupta, in the newly created role of Chief Talent Officer, Publicis Groupe South Asia; along with Pankaj Vasani, who is joining to take the new role of Chief Financial Officer, Publicis Groupe South Asia. 

Anita Nayyar elevated to CEO of Havas Media Southeast Asia 

In October, Havas Group promoted Anita Nayyar to CEO of Havas Media Southeast (SEA) Asia on the back of an accelerated growth strategy in the region. This is in addition to her role as CEO of Havas Media India. In this newly created role, Nayyar is working closely with regional and local leadership in SEA to drive new business and local client strategy with a sharpened focus on driving growth leveraging Havas Group’s integrated abilities. 

Havas India appoints Rana Barua as Group CEO 

In a major first move as part of an aggressive growth strategy, Havas Group bolstered its leadership strength in October with the appointment of Rana Barua as CEO of Havas Group India. In this role, Barua’s mandate is to chart Havas India’s journey of transformation and exponential growth with a focus on collaboration and partnerships, new business momentum, and building & leading future-ready teams.

Mallikarjun Das bids adieu to Starcom 

After leading Starcom India through an era of strong growth, stellar performance and rapid transformation, Group CEO Mallikarjun Das (Malli) decided to move on from the organisation in February. Malli had joined Starcom India as CEO in 2011.  

Publicis Groupe unveils AI-powered innovation, Marcel 

In May, Publicis Groupe unveiled Marcel – named after Publicis Groupe founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet – its AI-powered innovation that will accelerate transforming the organisation from a holding company to a platform, creating the first truly borderless, frictionless enterprise workforce, comprised of 80,000 employees worldwide, and usher in a new era of creativity and innovation. 

TBWAIndia’s campaign Blink To Speak wins international laurels

The Blink To Speak initiative done for a non-profit organisation, Asha Ek Hope Foundation. Some basic eye movements were created to help patients of ALS, MNDs, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis to communicate. A special book depicting the eye movements for communication was created and given to 70 patients and 3 doctors. They came back to with their feedback on missing messages and difficulty in some eye movements. After making the necessary changes 5,000 such books were distributed by NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and Asha Ek Hope Foundation to patients and their families, for free. The cost of printing each book was $7. 

McCann Mumbai’s Immunity Charm 

McCann Health’s campaign created to support the immunisation drive of the Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan won several global awards. The agency created an Immunity Charm bracelet comprising coloured beads to be put on each infant’s wrist. Each bead in bracelet was a code for a specific vaccine. With every immunisation, doctors added the corresponding bead to the bracelet. 

India’s #MeToo juggernaut: A cautionary tale & a catalyst for clean-up 

2018 was also a year, where women came out to speak about the sexual harassment and assault they had to endure for years as part of India's #MeToo movement. Among the named and shamed on social media were several well-known names from the M&E and advertising industries. What started as Tanushree Dutta’s lone struggle for justice in a 10-year old case of harassment against Nana Patekar on a film set, assumed a life of its own and turned into a collective struggle for dignity and safety for women.

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