Exit: S Yesudas, Enter: Shripad Kulkarni

09 Jul,2015


By A Correspondent


The two are a study in contrasts. One, flamboyant, aggressive, very media-friendly, and the other a hardnosed planner, huge believer in research and statistics and understated.


Ashish Bhasin

The story goes that the office of Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia Chairman & CEO Ashish Bhasin was planning to make the news public only on Thursday, the day former Percept Allied Media CEO Shripad Kulkarni was to have joined the organisation. But, as it happened, exchange4media flashed the news mid-afternoon and the Dentsu PR office had to hurriedly put out the communiqué it was set to outbox today.

S Yesudas, the marathon-runner and stylish outgoing CEO of Vizeum, is known to be among the most press-friendly media agency captains. The joke is that news on his account wins hit the media even before people in his organisation get to know about it. So even though it will never be known on how the news leaked to e4m, Bhasin, who was leaving for New Delhi on Wednesday evening, was reportedly livid.

Vizeum may have been winning accounts at steady intervals, but Bhasin and the Vizeum worldwide bosses wanted the agency to take a different course. And being an old Carat Chief Operating Officer (Carat is Dentsu Aegis’s flagship media arm), Shripad Kulkarni, who was looking to exit Percept Allied Media, was a natural choice for the India office of the London-headquartered agency. While Yesudas was offered special projects to look at content and analytics, it was clear that he was evaluating options outside the group, including investors if he doesn’t find the right suitor.


Kulkarni requested that he doesn’t want to be drawn into any conversation on the transition. “The sheer dynamism of Vizeum as a brand excites me,” said Kulkarni.


When we spoke with Yesudas, he echoed what was stated in a Dentsu Aegis communiqué in terms of his role ahead. But then the story that comes out from e4m and that has been linked by him on his Facebook account says that he has quit Vizeum. Bhasin was gracious in his recognition of the work Yesudas had put in. “I also want to thank Yesudas for the great job that he has done in helping start Vizeum operations in India from the scratch and bringing the agency to the level at which it is today,” he said in the communiqué.


Both Kulkarni and Yesudas will report to Bhasin. Yesudas spoke to MxMIndia and indicated that he is considering options outside the group too. His Facebook post though said it all: “Friends, It has been an incredible 6 years with Vizeum India, starting the company from scratch with a laptop and 100 business cards, without any global clients or automatic alignments, we managed to carve out a niche for ourselves. ”


And it added: “After two decades of media planning and buying which included setting up successful/ profitable businesses both in India and overseas, all those organisations going on to winning many awards and accolades, helping move many brands up the ladder and touching the lives of many a talents, I thought it was time for me to jump and develop my wings on the way, on two areas which I feel will hold immense potential for the future of brand-consumer connect, CONTENT and ANALYTICS. For those closer to the media business, SoV in my definition is Share of Vision and SoE is Share of Empathy, the former being brand to consumer and later the other way. Wish me all the best and watch this space for more action.”


Kulkarni meanwhile has his work cut out for him. Vizeum may be doing well international as per RECMA ratings, but in India the qualitative assessement is in the negative.  With more than 30 years of experience across various media specialisations, Kulkarni was until last week, CEO of Percept Allied Media which he founded in 2006. An MBA from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, Mumbai, Kulkarni has worked in agencies like Contract, Clarion, Ogilvy and his own entrepreneurial venture called M:ideas. He serves on the Board of media research body MRUC.


Commenting on the appointment, Bhasin said: “With the wealth of experience that Shripad brings in and the thorough knowledge of the business that he has, I am sure Vizeum India will touch new heights under his leadership.”  Some of the clients that Vizeum handles in India include BMW, Lotus Herbals, TI Cycles, MTV, Hindware, Jet Airways, Allied Blenders and Distillers, Luxor and the recently won HDFC Bank  amongst others.


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