TAPROOT! We will not mess with what’s working wonderfully: Rohit Ohri

30 Aug,2012

When one speaks to Rohit Ohri, Executive Chairman, Denstu India Group, one can sense the passion and excitement with which he has embraced his role at Dentsu. However, he does admit that when he had taken the role more than a year back he was himself not sure if he was doing the right thing considering that he was moving out of a familiar environment where he had spent 21 years! But things couldn’t have been better for him and he certainly is enjoying being a part of the transformation that Dentsu is undergoing. Mr Ohri talks to MxMIndia post the news of Denstu Inc acquiring 51 % of Taproot India.


By Tuhina Anand


What a day it has been! Dentsu and Taproot coming together is certainly big news. However, what intrigues is that you already have 3 full-service agencies under Dentsu India. So what is the reason behind acquiring a creative agency?

We are constantly working towards bringing the best skills and capability in the organization. We have three full service agencies under Dentsu India Group – Dentsu Marcom, Dentsu Communications and  Dentsu Creative Impact and we have the best of creative minds including Soumitra Karnik, Titus Upputuru and Harish Arora leading our creative units. In a year that we have worked together, I think we have come out with some great creative works like Canon India’s What Makes Us Click or Hero Motorcycles’ Sach Kar Denge Sapne. These are excellent works that have helped the clients remarkably increase the market share and put them on a growth trajectory.


I have been reading that we lack creative prowess but I think that’s not the case. I think it has more to do with a perception that needs to be changed. We have been doing a lot to improve the quality of work that has been coming out of the agency. But we decided that we needed a dramatic shift to change the perception of Dentsu and we needed to make a quantum leap. Our decision of aligning with Taproot is a move in that direction. I would say that the change was already happening in the agency it’s just that now it has been accelerated with this development.


Dentsu is a Japanese-held company but it is not a Japanese agency. If we are in India it means that to succeed we need to create advertising that clicks with the nation. We have Japanese counterpart in the system where they bring an understanding and expertise in our offering. It’s a happy marriage where we leverage each other’s strength.


A well-thought of strategy then!  How will the partnership work on a daily functional basis?

Very clearly we will not mess with what’s working wonderfully. So there is no name change or any change in the way Taproot has been functioning. The agency has been handling big clients on project basis and for them to handle them on a regular basis would mean that they need bandwidth and expertise like media or digital. That is where we step in by helping them to cut the labyrinth and give them direct access to our network’s strength. Taproot will grow on its creative capability and remain the iconic agency that it is today. The difference is that the support from Dentsu will come in when required thus helping them to focus on their creative output.


There will be a Taproot Board that will be set up which is part of the process of the post merger integration. The Board will have four directors from Dentsu and I shall be one of them and three from Taproot. The key decision like the future of the agency will  need to be passed by the directors but I repeat that in day-to-day functioning Aggie and Paddy will run it as they have been doing till now. They will have complete freedom.


With you coming on board, it appears Dentsu India is on an overdrive to get in the top race in the industry, how do you see the agency poised today and the road ahead?

Dentsu is the number one agency in Japan for the past 110 years. We want to be the agency that clients want to work with. We are 100 percent integrated agency and have a holistic approach to communication. Today, the separation among various functions like creative, media or digital has become so deep that it is difficult to straddle across them. However, the clients want one-stop solution and that is Dentsu’s strength. Tim Andree, the President and CEO of Dentsu Network Global, says that we are network of agencies which collaborate with each other meaning we build complimentary skill and not competitive.  This is what we truly believe in.


For you personally, how is the role different from your previous stint?

Honestly speaking, I wasn’t sure of my move as I had spent 21 years of my career at JWT but now that I am here I can confidently say that I am having the best time of my life. Last year has been fantastic as well as challenging nevertheless satisfying.


I think the biggest difference in the agency today is the culture that we have created within the organization which encourages creativity. I have got enormous amount of support from Dentsu Inc on this. The deal with Taproot was initiated by me and I got phenomenal support thus helping in making it happen. We had envisioned this almost a year back and it is extremely gratifying to get the congratulatory messages and calls from the industry and your peers which kind of validates that what one has planned was in the right direction. I have been overwhelmed by the support that the industry has shown on this move.


I can feel the change in the agency, in the way people are approaching us now or during our discussions with the people from the industry. It’s just that we have accelerated that change with the move.


Must be a tiring day for you given the buzz the news has created… how do you plan to celebrate?

I think I just want to enjoy and savour the moment. It has been a significant move and to be accepted by the industry gives me immense pleasure and kind of validates that our strategic thinking was in the right direction. However, one must understand that the move of partnering with Taproot would have not have created much ripples had we not already been doing something to show that Dentsu was undergoing a transformation. It would have been just passed off as a one-time move.  I think we had already made a difference by getting the right kind of people on board, by our work and the culture that we have created within the organization. So there was some foundation and people knew that there was an agency undergoing change albeit at a slower pace. With Taproot we have increased the pace of change. Coming back to the celebration, I think we will do one when Aggie, Paddy and I get together.


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