P&G’s Pritchard continues to walk all over his agencies

12 Apr,2018

Mark Pritchard at Cannes Lions 2017​


By Prabhakar Mundkur [updated]


There seems to be no stopping Mark Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble (P&G).  Almost every week, the man walks all over the advertising industry hammering it into pulp. And the ad industry having lost its spine a few decades ago, is happy to let him walk all over them.


The latest disruption that he has created in the advertising business is to create a unit where he has pooled the best creative resources of all his agencies into one agency called the People First agency headquartered in New York and headed by Andrea Diquez, CEO of Publicis Group Saatchi and Saatchi.


I wonder why the three agencies even agreed to do that.  Do they not have any sense of ego?  Or has the revenue that P&G offers them forced them into submission and servility?


Imagine Prasson, Piyush and Balki sitting in the same agency and producing work for one client.  I am sure the Indians wouldn’t agree to a formula like that?  Or would they?  Is the lure of money and profit too big to show your spine to the world’s largest advertiser?


One could have forgiven Pritchard if what he proclaims is the new agency model had created something breakthrough and innovative.  But People First seemed to have created just another television commercial like any other agency, when they worked on Tide for the Super Bowl.  The ad failed to move me and I am unlikely to show it at my next public appearance as an example of breakthrough advertising.


Small Creative shops no threat to Large agencies


When the first few creative hotshops set up, some industry experts interpreted it as a threat to the large agency setup.  Taproot was a good example of a creative hotshop threatening the large agency like JWT for example when they usurped a part of the Pepsi and Airtel account.


But now going by experience, the creative hotshop is set up only to dress up the bride.  To create a viable agency, with the sole objective of being acquired by a large group a few years later. And so alas Taproot became a part of Dentsu.


A slew of other small hotshops followed among them Scarecrow.  Again, like Taproot but to a lesser extent it became a threat to the large agency taking little chunks of MNC and local business from other agencies.  But again, like hotshops before them the sole objective was to create an agency for acquisition.  Scarecrow has been acquired by M&C Saatchi now making it Scarecrow M&C Saatchi.


Some will remember that M&C Saatchi has not had an illustrious existence in this country.  The agency floated around for a while without making any waves before leaving the country altogether.


But it seems that with the new acquisition of Scarecrow, M&C Saatchi may have more to benefit from the partnership than Scarecrow. A quick look at the M&C Saatchi global website reveals that its global accounts might have not much leverage in India :Nandos, HBO, Natwest, Lexusetc are unlikely to affect the fortunes of either Scarecrow or M & C Saatchi, significantly.


But of course, there is an upside as always.  The owners of Scarecrow will become rich and M&C Saatchi can drop one more pin on its global map of offices.  Besides Scarecrow of course can show off an international halo.


Are India clients likely to work with New York agencies?

One would have thought that Indian clients would never have considered working with a New York agency for many reasons. Time, distance, understanding of culture, and several other constraints.


But much is being made of Nadia Chauhan’s appointment of Sagmeister and Walsh the New York-based agency that works on Parle Agro’sFrooti.


In a new splash all over the Indian trade journals, both Nadia and Jessica Walsh a partner with Sagmeister Walsh raved about each other.


The commercial itself was a little unimpressive according to me.



The commercial features Alia Bhatt and is a combination of real life and animation.  As usual and like most Frooti ads the commercial was totally execution oriented and lacked any unique advertising idea for the brand.


The graphics also reminded me of a style that the agency has developed of using post-modern art with strong graphics which they seem to be doing with all their other brands as well.


I wonder if this was meant to show the world that Frooti has a New York agency or was the move only to slight its previous agency Creativeland Asia which was the Frooti agency for nine years.



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