Amer Jaleel & Virat Tandon to head MullenLowe Lintas Group. Arun iyer to exit

05 Sep,2018


By A Correspondent

The winds of change are blowing. And given that the headquarters are near the near-seafront end of Mumbai’s Nariman Point, these winds have been blowing hard and fast.


So we woke this morning to the Brand Equity story on the development at MullenLowe Lintas Group. That Amer Jaleel has been named Group Chairman and Chief Creative Officer. Partnering him, on business, will be Virat Tandon who’s being named Group CEO. In their new roles, the duo will lead the group mandate in India overseeing its three agencies; Lowe Lintas, Mullen Lintas and PointNine Lintas. And, most importantly, Arun Iyer – Chairman and CCO of Lowe, the older agency, has decided to move on.


Given the Economic Times supplement’s deadlines, this was a carefully planned exclusive given by the agency network. And we rest our case whether the exclusive lolly was really worth it.


Speaking of the new group leadership, Alex Leikikh – global CEO MullenLowe Group said: “A few years ago, we had asked Amer and Virat to start our second agency in India, Mullen Lintas, and they have built it into a top 10 agency in the country in just two years. Amer has been a creative leader of our group in India for a very long time now, and Virat embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of the MullenLowe Group, and as such I am delighted to have them steer our overall business in India to even greater success.”


Interestingly, the communique received from the agency network is silent on the roles of Raj Gupta, CEO, Lowe Lintas, the flagship agency and Vikas Mehta, CEO, PointNine Lintas. Gupta was elevated in March 2017 along with Iyer and Mehta was appointed CEO in mid-2017 along with the agency’s formation. Mehta was also essaying the role of CMO of the group. While the appointments have the blessings of the global guard, it needs to be seen how the appointment of Tandon impacts that of Gupta and Mehta.


Meanwhile, speaking of their new roles, Jaleel and Tandon said this in a communique: “We have a lot of strong assets in the group. Two top ten agencies, Lowe Lintas and Mullen Lintas; a very promising incubation, the Omni-channel agency PointNine Lintas; some of the industry’s best and brightest creative, strategy and business leaders; and last but not the least a culture that makes us stick together and tick. The future is looking different and exciting. There could be no better time for the group to embark on this journey. To stay at the top of its game, MullenLowe Lintas Group realizes the importance of investing in building a strong talent pool with new skills that are relevant in the digital and hyper-connected world. It’s becoming more challenging for brands to win in the marketplace as the consumer is evolving and most categories are being disrupted and transformed due to technology. Clients are looking for all the help they can get from their agencies to win in this new reality. We want to continue to be our clients’ biggest strength.”


Iyer, who plans to start a venture of his own and will transition out of the agency over the next year, has along with the agency planned a twelve-month transition period, during which he will continue to work for some key clients and help with succession planning. This is what he has said:  “I have had the privilege of being part of an institution. I have spent a little over 15 years here. And it is home. Over the last few years, I have been passionate about start-ups and have played a role in developing some strong brands such as Byju’s, Freecharge and Grofers. Going forward, I am planning to work more closely within the start-up ecosystem.” Added Jaleel: “Arun and I have been brothers-in-arms for over eight years now. We’ve been shouldering the equity and reputation of Lintas together and that gives you a sort of a feeling of being in the same womb! Arun has, over the last three years, taken the spirit that Balki infused in Lowe Lintas to a different zone and moulded the agency in his own way. A large part of my job for MullenLowe Lintas Group will be to take that imprint forward.”


The last bit in the communique is critical: “Jaleel and Tandon’s appointments take place with immediate effect. They are working on plans to transform MullenLowe Lintas Group in a few critical areas to remain the key agency partner for clients.”


Ah. Sorry, we aren’t Brand Equity, but this last line can be interpreted variously. Or perhaps not. We are journalists. We don’t have to necessarily do creative thinking. Tandon is a great guy, and so are Gupta and Mehta. But then there can be just one leader.

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