Indian creatives are a global influencer: Tim Love

18 Jan,2013


By Tuhina Anand


Tim Love, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Omnicom, APIMA is a known name in the Indian advertising circuit. He has been a frequent visitor to India exploring new opportunities for mergers and acquisitions, expressing his thoughts on various Indian advertising forum and playing a crucial role in the India chapter of the Omnicom Group. As Mr Love announces his retirement and plans to switch gear and get into developing teaching platform, MxMIndia seized the opportunity to talk to him about how he ventured into advertising, his long and illustrious career and life post-retirement.


It’s been a long and successful career for you, if you were to pin point- what would have been the turning point in your career?

I was very fortunate to have worked for two people at the start of my career who really took the time to teach the business. The first was someone who had been a teacher at the US Naval Academy. He was also debate coach there and his entire approach was to develop us into composite advertising people. This was a holistic approach, requiring me to get experience with all facets of the business. He was also very focused on innovation and, crucially, believed we learn more from our failures at innovation. He would take the time with me to better understand what I was learning. This also took the fear out of trying new ideas and challenging conventional wisdom.


The other person was an incredibly disciplined business writer. He taught me the famous P&G one-page memo-writing discipline. He was so good at it that he later started his own consultancy called “Leadership on Paper” and has worked with many of the world’s biggest and best marketers, including P&G. He drilled this discipline into us. He would make us rewrite a recommendation or conference report so many times until it was about perfect. It affected how we organized our thoughts and how we presented our ideas. This discipline would prove very valuable as my career broadened with the globalization of our industry and the need to communicate with people all over the world.


One challenge that you faced recently and how you overcame that?

I have found that the nomenclature we use can be helpful in taking advantage of learning opportunities. For example, several years ago our industry became increasingly aware and focused on the analog to digital transformation. I thought we ought to stop talking about it like it was something in the future, and instead began saying we live in a “post-digital” world. This helped me shift my frame of reference and those of my clients and colleagues.


You have had a close association with India, how do you see the creative landscape here and can India come out with creative solutions (more often) that can be used worldwide?

There are more than 20 official languages in India and several hundred separate dialects. The challenge of creating big, relevant ideas that connect with people whose brain processes are wired so diversely requires a very sophisticated kind of creativity.

Ideas in India need to be relevant across a wider array of mental technologies. This is especially so as internet access experiences explosive growth in India, and make people the first media. This also places a creative priority on visual strategy that is more prevalent than in some other markets which are less language-diverse. India’s writers, designers and artists are increasingly influencing our industry outside of India.


In India, among the creative fraternity, who do you think has immense talent?

My esteem for the industry talent in India is so deep that it would be unfair to mention specific names. The most creative people in any communications discipline know that an idea is just an idea until it changes the way you see the world. Recognition of India talent is vibrant and growing in Cannes, Effies and D&AD.


How do you see the Omnicom group poised in India today and the way forward?

We see India as a fundamentally important market for fuelling our need to attract top talent and business growth. That’s why we specifically identified India in our regional view. The “I” in APIMA is for India, loud and clear. (Here again an example of nomenclature breaking with convention.)


For you, what has been your biggest achievement vis-a-vis Omnicom Group in India?

I have been privileged to work with some of the most extraordinary leaders in India. Leaders who have not only influenced their countrymen, but have raised the professionalism of our industry over all. Leaders like Keki Dadiseth, Sundar and Shekhar Swamy, Sam Balsara, Jasmin Sohrabji, Shiv Sethuraman, Madhukar Kamath, Josy Paul, Bobby Pawar, Sonal Dobral, Ajai Jhala, Prabha Prabhu, Yusuf Hatia, Bharat Patel, Gurcharan Das and so many others since my first visit to India on business in 1993.


You have had a long and illustrious career, what would you miss about advertising in your daily life after retirement?

Few can look backward without regret and forward without fear.


The paradox of being so plugged in and always on with so many clients and people worldwide. The really great thing is how easy we can continue to be connected today. I don’t need to miss these people, because I can still be in touch with them, just an email away. Someone said to me it really should be called rewirement.


So, what do you plan to do post-retirement?

I’m very much looking forward to developing a teaching platform for global brand-buidling with Dr Linda Scott of Oxford University. And, continuing to grow through “lecture and learning” opportunities at schools like MICA, Yale, Columbia, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Miami University and others who invite me. For example, I will be at MICA the first week on February for a Management Development Programme and really looking forward to deepening my understanding of India advertising and marketing services.


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