Will Rediff resurrect itself post WPP, Dentsu exit?

03 Aug,2018

By A Correspondent


Before you say we are being too harsh, because you resurrect only those who are dead, well, you know we don’t mean that. But, yes, the agency has been pretty down in the dumps, and as one insider told us, that few in the younger set of CMOs takes the agency too seriously.


And this for an agency that has done some stellar work. Created Brand Airtel for instance. Has done some awesome work for various clients, over the years.


Rediff’s rise and rise also saw its downfall. Perhaps a wrong choice of captains, perhaps a tough jv with WPP with the then CEO Martin Sorrell making life tough for Rediff co-founder and bossman Arun Nanda by reportedly pulling out key clients. In the recent past, the agency’s cash registers were ringing thanks to the prized contract with the Tatas to handle the group’s PR activities. But it lost that business too earlier this year.


So as MxM reported on May 22 (http://www.mxmindia.com/2018/05/is-arun-nanda-buying-wpp-stake-in-rediffusion/), Rediffusion has exited the WPP-owned Y&R and Dentsu partnerships and has chosen to go independent again. Our sources tell us the money paid to WPP was peanuts (less than Rs 5 crore) and both left the room with a Phew!.


Nanda is happy to go independent all over again, and WPP country manager CVL Srinivas delighted that he can bring in Y&R solo to Indian shores.


Rediff founders Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishan have bought back the 40% shares held in their company by Y&R (26.7%) and Dentsu (13.3%).


In a joint statement, Nanda and Balakrishnan said: “Forty-five years back, we started Rediffusion with the vision of creating a passionate and bold agency that would take ownership of its clients and their work; with the promise of creating dynamic, fearless and category-busting work. As communication is undergoing a revolution in this hyper-connected and technology-oriented world, it’s time Rediffusion rode this new wave with a new freedom, zeal and passion. We believe we will be able to deploy a variety of digital tools and creative styles more swiftly, if Rediffusion is on its own.“


The communications group will now comprise Rediffusion, Rediffusion Direct, Everest Brand Solutions, Rediffusion Healthcare Communications and Rediff.com.


In a release, WPP said its companies Sudler, Wunderman and Y&R, which operated as joint venture agencies with Rediffusion, will be developed as wholly-owned agencies, with WPP selling its stakes in the current Rediffusion joint ventures. There will be no change to Wunderman’s existing India businesses.


Said Srinivas: “India is a key growth region for us and we have a well-defined road map and vision for what we would like to achieve here. WPP is home to some of the best marketing talent in this country and our plan is to steer our agencies to stay ahead of the curve – in terms of both market and client needs, by providing the best-in-class offerings.”


Rediffusion’s recent wins include SBI, Tata 150 years mandate, Liebherr & Tata Trusts. The agency also continues to handle Tata Sons, Tata Motors, Parle, TVS Tyres, Taj, L&T Realty, Godfrey Philips, Eveready, HPCL, Audi, GSK, Danone, Sun Pharma, to name a few.


The agency has had a change of guard in the recent past. As reported by MxMIndia (http://www.mxmindia.com/2018/06/rahul-jauhari-navonil-chatterjee-to-take-charge-at-rediffusion-yr-everest-as-dhunji-wadia-to-retire-in-august/ ), Rahul Jauhari and Navonil Chatterjee have taken charge as Joint Presidents. Dhunji Wadia who was to retire as President of the group this month, left last month, in an exit that was reportedly not very amicable.


Lastly, will Y&R enter India? We aren’t a hundred percent sure yet, but don’t be surprised if it does in a hurry. For now, the list of its Asia offices doesn’t include India: https://www.yr.com/locations#asia. But we are told it will be back soon.


As for Rediff, Nanda and Balakrishnan will need to be doing loads of interesting work and get many more clients to stay in the reckoning.




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