Global ad biggies like Omnicom, Publicis & Dentsu in hectic parleys to buy Taproot

07 Jun,2012

By Neha Dewan & Ravi Balakrishnan


In 2011, when Taproot snatched two big-ticket assignments, PepsiCo and Airtel – both JWT clients – the joke was that JWTstood for Just Went to Taproot.


Now JWT may just have to be shuffled around to become TJW – or Taproot Just Went – now that a clutch of global ad networks are in hectic parleys with the founders of the five-year-old independent Indian agency. Those in the fray, said a person familiar with the negotiations, include the Omnicom group, Publicis and Dentsu.


Agnello Dias, chairman and co-founder, Taproot India, said: “There are three or four groups talking to us and Dentsu is one of them. It doesn’t have any head start and we are no closer to signing a dotted line (with Dentsu than with any other network).”


A Dentsu spokesperson was unavailable for comment. Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia, said: “We don’t comment on acquisitions of any nature.”


Taproot’s co-founders Dias and Santosh Padhi are clearly testing the market and checking out valuations, said an agency insider. But this may not tantamount to an immediate sale.


“The global groups are speaking not just to Taproot but also to other independent agencies like Creativeland Asia. We are open to talking to anybody but at the end of the day it may not be Dentsu, Omnicom or anybody. We would just like to get an idea of how much we are worth and valued at,” is how the insider who requested anonymity put it.


The agency, which had a slow beginning in 2007, eventually moved on to big clients. Campaigns such as ‘Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai’ (HFZ) and ‘Change the Game’ for Pepsi got popular acclaim as well as industry  accolades with HFZ winning seven medals at Goafest this year.


At Goafest, considered the premier local ad festival in India, Taproot was runner-up to Ogilvy India, clinching 34 metals and beating top agencies such as Leo Burnett, DDB Mudra, Grey and JWT. Besides this, the agency had won the Grand Effie award last year for the ‘Change the Game’ campaign.


In its fifth year, the agency runs a tight ship with 35 people on board. A senior official at a leading ad agency says that Taproot has had to turn down a lot of projects in the past year.


“Funding via a sale of equity will help them increase their capabilities,” he said. For now though, a more interesting game is afoot with Dias and Padhi playing their cards very close to their chest.


Source: The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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