Life after Agnello Dias for Taproot

22 Jun,2021



By Our Staff


His exit has been rumoured for a while now. But denied, declined and even rubbished. We were told that he has moved to a larger group-level role, as creative chairman of the Dentsu group in India.


Which wasn’t untrue. But it was the beginning of a long road to the end of a relationship with Dentsu. Dias, better known as Aggi or Aggie, will continue with the agency until the end of this month (June 2021).


And after that? Well, he will be a consultant on a few brands, one of which is Airtel. And what else? Nothing for the moment that has been announced.


But first the news: Taproot Dentsu has announced key leadership changes as it gears up to get future-ready. Ayesha Ghosh, who had been heading the Mumbai office, has now been appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She will be responsible for both Mumbai and Gurugram offices. Ghosh has been with Taproot Dentsu since December 2015.


Partnering her closely will be Shashank Lanjekar. He has been elevated to the role of Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and will now be in charge of strategic planning for both the Taproot Dentsu offices in Mumbai and Gurugram. Thus far, he had been heading planning for the Mumbai office, ever since he joined in 2017. His ability to go deep and yet have an intuitive touch has helped give birth to some memorable campaigns.


Pearl Vas, who has been with the agency since 2018, takes on more independent responsibilities in Mumbai. She will now be promoted to Senior Vice President (SVP), Strategic Planning.


Meanwhile, under the overall creative leadership of Santosh ‘Paddy’ Padhi, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer (CCO) – Taproot Dentsu, the creative team for the Mumbai office has been expanded and divided into four units, each to be headed by a senior creative person. Neeraj Kanitkar, with an experience of 14 years (nine of those in Taproot Dentsu), is the creative lead for Facebook for which he has won the agency awards at Spikes and AdFest. He has also worked on significant brands like WhatsApp, Myntra, American Tourister and FirstPost.  He will be promoted to Executive Creative Director (ECD). Yogesh Rijhwani has been with the agency for close to five years with a total experience of 13 years. He has been handling Aquaguard and Set Wet. He has also worked on Star Sports, Airtel, Parle-G among others. He too will be promoted to ECD.


The other two senior creative leads will be Abhishek Deshwal and Purva Ummat. Abhinav Kaushik, who was Executive Vice President (EVP) on the Honda business among other brands, has been promoted to Head – Taproot Dentsu, Gurgaon while Titus Upputuru remains very ably in charge of creative for the Gurugram office. The other news is that veteran agencyperson Umesh Shrikhande retired as CEO in March this year.


Santosh Padhi or Paddy will continue as Co-Founder and CCO and will have a more hands-on role in both Mumbai and Delhi offices. According to our sources, Taproot Dentsu will, for all practical purposes, be led by him.


Dias began his advertising career in 1989 and after working with agencies like Dart, Interpub, Lowe and Leo Burnett, he joined JWT in 2005 where rose to become the Chief Creative Officer. Soon JWT India was ranked India’s No. 1 creative agency in the Campaign Brief rankings for Asia. Then he made history by winning India’s first-ever Grand Prix at Cannes and the first-ever Titanium-Integrated Lion, with JWT India not only being the network’s top performer but also returning the best ever performance by an Indian advertising agency at the festival.


His name features in almost every award catalogue – from our homegrown Abby and Kyoorius to Cannes Lions, D&AD, One Show, Clio, AdFest, London International Advertising Awards, etc. The list is loooong.


Taproot, which was then not acquired by Dentsu, was ranked among the world’s Top 20 independent agencies besides being crowned Asia-Pacific Agency of the Year. In 2013 Taproot India also became the Asia-Pacific Agency of the Year at Spikes Asia.


Nine years back, Dias was ranked amongst the World’s 100 most Creative People by Fast Company magazine in the US. So what about Life after Aggie for Taproot. Well, it is, like as one friend of the agency said, the roots have been extracted. While Paddy stays on, we all know what Aggie brought into the system. It was not just creation. It was intensity, conviction and much passion.”


In an industry dominated by some of the big agencies like Ogilvy, Lowe Lintas, McCann and some others, Aggie brought in some amazing energy into his advertising. Whether it was the advertising for Airtel or for The Times of India and Mumbai Mirror, he produced some really memorable work. The kind that hasn’t been seen for a while in Indian advertising, Taproot included.


There are many who say that Aggie needn’t work given the monies he earned after selling Taproot to Densu (with Paddy), but, as some of his friends tell us, that’s unfair. “Knowing Aggie, he’s going to not stop working and dreaming up new ideas for advertisers.” There were rumours of his looking at some feature film projects, but that we are told have faded away. “There was just this much he could’ve done at Taproot after selling out to Dentsu. He will reinvent himself and come up with something as refreshing as before,” the friend added.


Meanwhile, for Taproot Dentsu, while Agnello Dias will continue to be around consulting for a few of its prized accounts which are possibly with the agency thanks to him, it will be interesting to see the kind of business it generates and retains in the immediate future. What we do know that co-founder Santosh ‘Paddy’ Padhi is fairly aggressive in his approach and will try his bestest to ensure the news doesn’t impact the agency’s fortunes.


Clearly the next few months should see some activity for both Taproot and Agnello Dias.

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