I worked my butt off… I wasn’t willing to wait for 4 years: Pratap Bose

08 Apr,2014



The news that Pratap Bose had quit DDB Mudra has been doing the rounds for a few weeks. In fact there have been murmurs of differences between him and Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO and Managing Director, DDB Mudra Group for a while.  Mr Kamath was due to retire this year, and Mr Bose was the frontrunner for the position. But then came the news of a four-year extension given to Mr Kamath. MxMIndia first learnt about it on the sidelines of the conference unveiling the Big Bazaar campaign on March 14, but we were asked to keep it under wraps and wait for a formal word. Since we don’t specialise in breaking news of people movements, we waited for the news to come in officially, even as it was evident that it would lead to a conflict given Mr Bose’s aspirations for the Top Job.


There is no denying the contribution that Mr Bose made as DDB Mudra Chief Operating Officer. From essentially a traditional creative agency, he grew the OOH and BTL businesses in a big way. The contribution of the non-core advertising business to the overall turnover is in the region of 50 percent.


MxMIndia spoke to Pratap Bose early this morning. Mr Kamath was unavailable for comment as he was travelling and in meetings. Excerpts from an interview with Mr Bose:


The news of your quitting has been doing the rounds for a few weeks. So what’s next?

There isn’t a next rightaway. There are offers. I haven’t decided. I am in dialogue with people, so I will take a decision that’s right for me in time.


In this day and age, people don’t quit until they land themselves a definite job. But you didn’t do that?

There’s clearly no insecurity at my level. It’s not going to be difficult to get another job, if that’s what you mean. Once I had decided, there was no point serving a three-months notice. So I took the step. However, Madhukar and I have agreed that I will be available for the next one or two months.


So was yesterday your last day at the office?

No, I will be going there for the next few days.


We read your comment that you quit since Madhukar Kamath was given a four-year extension. Quite a bold statement to make…

Well, everyone knows I was looking at the Top Job. There were promises made. I am not the kind of guy who will wait for four years.


Are you happy with your stint at Mudra?

Oh, yes, very. It’s been a happy, satisfying journey. When I moved from Ogilvy to Mudra six years back, the brief was to building an empire that was a lot more than advertising. Mudra wasn’t the hottest agency in the business six years back. Then the partnership with Bobby Pawar happened, we built Mudra Max to what it is today. The forays into everything other than advertising – outdoor, analytics, digital, youth, trade marketing… I help build all that, and am happy that we much achieved much success.


While it’s true that you lost out to Madhukar on the captaincy, isn’t it a fact that most creative ad agencies are almost always headed by suits or creatives from the traditional advertising side of the business?

Well, yes, traditionally agencies have been headed by suits and creatives. But that’s the past and things are changing. The person who has taken over from Shiv at TBWA is a digital guy. Clearly, whoever heads an agency must have a vision for the future.


You have a loyal bunch of people in the teams you’ve built. Will they move with you wherever you go?

To be honest, and as I said earlier, I haven’t decided on anything about where I am going. What’s clear is that I want to join an organisation that has great vision and strategy. Yes, people look at me as a rainmaker and I am good at winning businesses…


It’s true that there is a loyal bunch of people running Max, but they are really free to do what they want.


Your next job will naturally be that of the CEO of any agency?

Not really. The title doesn’t matter to me. I was CEO at Ogilvy and COO at Mudra. I am a person who needs to enjoy the work and do good work for clients.

My cv doesn’t have five agencies that I have worked at. It’s been two agencies in 25 years. The next job has to be meaningful.

I very much enjoyed myself at Mudra, but it’s just that I have reached a point of having been there, done that. But more than the slot, it’s the people and work which matter.


At DDB Mudra, the slot did matter, right?

Yes, because I believed in natural progression and had worked my butt off. But going forward it doesn’t really matter. I know I am contradicting myself, but that’s the honest truth.


Are you looking at starting out on your own?

There are many possibilities. It could be a big agency or a small one which will require to build it. I am open to an equity with a large group, and am not closed to starting something in my individual capacity. All options are open, and I am going to take my time in deciding.


What are immediate plans? Wildlife photography?

Oh,yes, travel at bit. Do some photography.


So who’s wilder… people in advertising or the animals?

That depends on your definition of wild… (laughs)


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