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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
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ďI want to create an agency, not a bankĒ
Rohit Ohri, Executive Director, Dentsu India Group talks to 4Ps B&M about how he plans to make the companyís work culture more creative and lively
When Rohit Ohri joined Dentsu India, he instantly realised that changing the fortune of the company was not going to be a cakewalk. However, by setting a priority-led plan, heís been able to fulfil most of the tasks he set out to accomplish in the first year. We find out what he has in mind for the future.

Profit margins are going down tremendously in the industry. How are you tackling it?
While it is true that there is a lot of squeeze in the revenues of the agencies, what actually confronts the agencies, and this is a question for every agency in the market, is looking at broadening your scope of services. Itís not about what you were doing or the services you have been providing, but what you really need to see is where the consumer is going tomorrow and what services and connections can we have with the consumer tomorrow. That is why I say that mobile is the next big thing. If we were to look at mobiles as they are right now, then we would say that there is no revenue in it and you should junk it. But we need to be forward facing. What is important is understanding where the consumer is going and be there ahead of everybody else. This way, the clients, seeing that the agency is able to foresee the future trends of communication would find a reason to partner with us.

So the way forward is to find newer ways of servicing clients and hence generating revenues, rather than sticking with what you have and then cribbing about losing revenues.

The ad industry is known for its high attrition rates and critical shortage of talent. How do you plan to deal with it at Dentsu?
If we look at more proactive ways of looking at a talent, and even before the talent begins to think that he is stagnating or that he is doing his best, you give him another opportunity or you give him a new business to handle so that you can keep a constant sense of growth in that talentís life and the way he is looking at his career. Everyone we have here with us has a vision of where they see their career growing and the organisation must be able to shake hands with that, because if the organisation is providing you the opportunity to actually do what will help your career grow, it is the fundamental reason why a talent stays with an organisation. Otherwise, people tend to move on because the organisation is not fulfilling their aspirations.

Being a Japanese entity, how beneficial or challenging has it been when it comes to roping in new clients as well as sustaining previous ones?
If you look at it, a Japanese entity runs in the front in almost all categories today, be it be automotives or electronics. And that has been a huge advantage for us as it really helped us build a base as a group in India. The other thing is the way advertising is really developing with the coming in of new age technology, and this new technology needs to be integrated with communications as the mobile media and the digital media are not traditional or non-traditional communication mediums. Nowadays, itís not online or offline but rather through the line and itís more of integrated communication. And this is something in which Japan is way ahead of the others and to my mind, this is a great opportunity for us to look at this next paradigm of communication and bring in the learnings from Tokyo to India.

When you joined Dentsu last year, what key problems was the agency suffering from in your view?
As an agency, the big challenge we have is to not be known in the market as a Japanese agency. We are owned by a Japanese MNC, but the fact is that in India, we want to be known as the agency with the best skills and capabilities in the market. We want to build an agency, which is as competitive and capable as the best there is in the industry. Itís not about working with Dentsu because you have the comfort zone of it being a Japanese agency. We need to be competitive in the industry and for that, we need the best people, the best skills and the best capabilities. We are actively identifying ways to change the game on every parameter and on every service delivery that we make to the client.

What do you feel is better for an advertising agency Ė a structured, orderly setup or a free flowing casual environment?
We are in the business of creating ideas and what we produce comes out of the mind, so to my understanding, whether the agency is organised or not is not of as much importance as whether the agency is creative. That, to me, is the most important thing. The creative culture to me is something, which not just the creative guys; but also the planning people, the account managers and every single person of the organisation are aware of and feel empowered by. That is what I have been trying to create over here. I donít want to create a bank where people come on time and leave on time, I want to create an agency where good creative work can be done.

So how are you imbibing that creativity and the creative culture in your organisation?
A creative environment depends all on the attitude that an organisation has towards a creation process. You need to encourage people to think creatively and then celebrate new ideas and creativity to inculcate that atmosphere in the organisation. It is all about the motivational talk that you do, and the positive atmosphere that you build on which the creative output depends. A lot of this depends upon the leadership you have in the organisation. Whenever we have a meeting, even if it is business-related or to assess our targets, we always start by reviewing the creative work first. The important message that I want to send to everyone is that if you fix the work, if you focus on the work, then you can surely build your business and reputation. You cannot start right away by focusing on the business, by pursuing new brands and new clients. Right now, the most important thing is to improve ourselves and take out creative products.

What key differentiation do you see between JWT & Dentsu?
While JWT is a really strong ad agency and has fantastic systems and processes, Dentsu, in comparison, is still in a development mode; so that is the defining difference between the two advertising agencies. However, the hunger and passion and the desire to be better than the others and to improve the quality of work is far higher here. Since we are competing with the big guys, we are the challenger brands. We are challenging many of the big agencies that have been established for over a hundred years, so we need to be nimble and flexible in our approach. We are currently in a startup mode as an agency and that helps energizes the whole team, as this way we have somewhere to go to and nowhere else to be.
Anchit Gupta           
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