Don’t poach our employees, JWT tells McCann

28 Sep,2011

By Ratna Bhushan & Rajiv Banerjee

India’s largest ad agency, JWT, has asked its fast-growing rival, McCann Erickson, to refrain from poaching its employees. The move comes after JWT lost a dozen staff to an expanding McCann over the past few months.

JWT has written to McCann more than once, two top executives familiar with the development told ET. McCann has not responded to this communication. Industry insiders characterise these letters as rare and unusual.

JWT India CEO Mr Colvyn Harris said, in response to an email query, that the agency had merely cautioned its former employees. “We have a clause in our employee contracts which prevents ex-employees soliciting staff for a stipulated period, and as a process we remind them of their contractual obligation,” he said.

Mr Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman at McCann Worldgroup and Mr Jitender Dabas, the agency’s senior VP and head of strategic planning, declined comment.

McCann is on a hiring spree as it has bagged plum contracts, including those of telecom services provider Aircel, carmaker General Motors and paints company ICI Dulux. The agency has recruited at least 50 people over the past two months, with 30 in senior positions.

JWT, on the other hand, has been struggling to fill 20-25 vacancies, an executive with a search firm told ET. The agency has recently lost half a dozen senior employees. “It is clear that JWT is trying its best to retain talent, particularly the people who have been working on the Airtel account,” another executive said.

Mr Harris, however, disputed these claims. “This is the figment of someone’s imagination,” he said, “Factually, should we require people we have enough people applying to us.”

JWT has been under pressure from some of its key clients who have entrusted independent agency Taproot with one-off plum assignments this year. These include beverage and snacks firm PepsiCo, which did not assign its biggest commercial of the year – the world cup campaign – to JWT, its creative agency for two decades. Bharti Airtel, too, turned to Taproot for a one-off campaign two months ago. Taproot is similarly working on a creative pitch for Mountain Dew, another brand handled by JWT.

At the same time, McCann has been scouting for advertising professionals to service the two big accounts it has bagged recently – the Aircel contract, which is estimated at 200 crore, and the General Motors contract estimated at 150 crore.

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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