Sorry to know about ITC, but we won our fair share of accounts: Sam Balsara

27 Mar,2017

Sam Balsara


The news of the loss of a client in advertising is big, not just for the agency that has bagged the account, but also for the incumbent that has seen the exit of a relationship. And whilst an official communique came in from Maxus, we thought it would be good to do a Q&A with Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison World, on his sentiments on the loss of the ITC business. Normally, any business leader would hesitate doing it, but not when it’s Balsara. Always very candid, and not one to shy away from facing what may appear to uncomfortable questions from Pradyuman Maheshwari. Read on….

Question: How do you view the exit of ITC? Your comments on what you think could have led to the account moving out? (Since ITC is a homegrown FMCG, one can’t even attribute it on an international realignment.)

Sam Balsara (SB): We are of course sorry to know that we will be losing the ITC account. We cannot comment on what could have led to the account moving out, because as a policy we do not comment on client relationships. ITC continues to be one of our valuable clients at Madison PR.

Interestingly, Madison recently bagged Titan, an account held by Maxus. Would you say these movements (and account swaps, if we can call them) are part of the game? Is that the way things work in the advertising world?

SB:Unfortunately, yes that’s the way things work in our advertising world. That is what makes our world so exciting and challenging. It’s a sign of the new VUCA (Volatile, Ambiguous, Complex, Uncertain) world we live in. It’s interesting to see that recently of the three large accounts that came up for pitch – Maruti, Titan and ITC, none of the incumbent agencies retained their accounts. We won our fair share of accounts at play, having won the prestigious Titan/Tanishq account.

Given that ITC was a significant business, will this impact in [your] staffing?

SB: We have some vacancies across offices and also need people to handle the new businesses we have won, so our endeavour will be  to accommodate as many people as we can.

There is talk on the street on how the ITC exit is going to severely impact the Madison stature in the Indian media agency scene. Your comments and a word to naysayers/detractors.

SB: In the last 12 months, Madison Media has won the media mandate of 21 new clients, which include some large ones like BJP election campaign in UP and Uttarakhand, Ministry of Petroleum,  Dixcy Scott undergarments, Times Jobs, RBL Bank and National Basketball Association (NBA – US) and Titan/Tanishq amongst many others.

Madison Media now handles the media mandate for over 80 media clients. Our decision, a few years ago to not restrict ourselves to only large clients, but to include some medium sized ones, has as you can see paid rich dividends and de-risked our business considerably.

Vikram[Sakhuja] has done a good job of attracting and bringing in our roster almost 35 new clients in the last two years. Lara [BalsaraVajifdar] continues to do a good job of growing Madison World, which across its 11 units now handles over 450 clients. And we continue to hold a 26% stake in Mediacom that handles P&G and many other clients.

So, the talk is mildly amusing. But, as they say, “Only the paranoid survive”, so I take it seriously.


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