Noel Tata, WPP join hands to back Adille Sumariwalla’s Interspace

25 Jul,2013

Noel Tata (left) and Adille Sumariwalla (Photographs: Fotocorp)

 

By Arijit Barman

 

One is a former Indian Olympian who represented the country in the 1980 Moscow Games in the 100-meters event, the other a reclusive and obsessively media shy Tata scion. The two are teaming up to create a new media and advertising solutions company that will also have the world’s largest communications conglomerate as a junior partner.

 

Interspace Communications is the brainchild of Adille Sumariwalla, an athlete-turned-media professional. Interspace is partnering WPP Plc’s Tenth Avenue – the strategic holding company of the group, which has subsumed all its diverse mobile, experiential, event marketing, brand activation and out-of-home (OOH) communications firms.

 

Noel Tata, the vice-chairman of Trent and MD of Tata International, who was considered to be among the contenders to succeed Ratan Tata, has also come on board with a personal investment, said multiple people aware of the development. Cyrus Mistry, a member of the Tata Sons board, eventually succeeded Ratan Tata at the end of 2012.

The new venture takes off at the end of this month, when Rupert Day, the Global CEO of Tenth Avenue comes to India along with other WPP top brass. Day, an old associate of WPP’s founder Sir Martin Sorrell is the former COO and one of the founders of GroupM.

 

Industry officials, however, said that a few marquee brands and financial sector clients have already signed up. A core team of over 20 professionals has also come on board in Mumbai while recruitments are ongoing for branch locations in Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad. When contacted, Mr Sumariwalla confirmed WPP’s investment and association but declined to comment on the identities of his other co-investors citing confidentiality clauses.

 

“This is a private family investment and has nothing to do with the Tata Group,” said a Tata Group spokesperson in response to a query.

 

Mr Day did not respond to email query, while Ranjan Kapur, India country head of WPP, did not want to comment. “We are not looking at a plain vanilla outdoor agency. We will offer our clients the entire spectrum of outdoor media solutions. So starting with planning we will go on and buy outdoor space, implement, monitor and report a campaign. We are also looking to marry this with social media, online and mobile platforms,” said Mr Sumariwalla. Interspace, however, will not own assets like billboards or bus shelters.

 

An industry veteran, Mr Sumariwalla started his professional career with Tata Engineering and Locomotive (now Tata Motors) where he worked for 15 years after which he moved to the media industry as the founding CEO of the Asian Age Newspaper, followed by a stint in Mid-day.

 

According to industry sources, Mr Noel Tata is no stranger to advertising business. He owns Jaguar Services-again in his private capacity-which positions itself as India’s first mall and multiplex activation agency that specialises in displaying ads on-screen and within premises. His family also owns the Sterling Theatre in South Mumbai.

 

WPP already has a few companies in the OOH space in India like Bates Wall Street, Portland and Poster Publicity which are arms of Kinetic, a operating company under Tenth Avenue. Here too they will follow the strategy of collaborate and compete.”WPP is a trans-continental giant. So they bring in global expertise, case studies and best practices. But that apart, in India, Ranjan Kapur in Ogilvy Landscape first brought some semblance of organization in an otherwise completely fragmented, disorganized outdoor and out of home sector,” said Mr Sumariwalla.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2013, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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