It has been almost one and a half years since Rohit Ohri took charge of Dentsu India as its executive chairman. The first signs of a turnaround can already be seen. From getting new talent on board to consolidation of existing business and new acquisitions, Ohri is hard at work
Around a year and a half ago, Rohit Ohri, the newly appointed executive chairman of Dentsu India, had gone for one of the first pitch presentations for GlaxoSmithkline's pain relief balm Iodex – a brand which had been with Ohri's former organisation JWT for decades. It's not everyday that the executive chairman of an agency is present at a pitch, but what was even more unusual was what happened there. “The first day when I went to make the presentation, I was astounded because till date I never had to oversell the credentials of the agency I represented. Convincing the client that why this agency needs to be considered was a different experience,” said Ohri. Dentsu lost that battle to Leo Burnett which won the creative duties for Iodex.
That incident was an eye-opener for Ohri. It revealed the cracks in the Japanese agency's operations in India and how it had fallen far behind its competitors. Dentsu Inc. is Asia's biggest advertising agency and the world's fifth largest advertising group but its India story hasn't been much to write home about. Most clients that came their way were because of their Japanese ties, and even here it was getting difficult to retain old accounts, forget getting new ones. So in early 2011 when the Tokyo-based group bought out the 26 per cent equity stake held by Mogae Consultants’ Sandeep Goyal in Dentsu’s India operations, it indicated a strategic shift in the Japanese agency's plans for India. Ohri was brought in later that year as executive chairman to stem the damage. But soon Ohri realised that being independent was not enough. It had a lot more to do with the way that the agency did business in India.
So taking a cue from the Iodex episode, Ohri went back to the drawing board. “I drew up two plans – the first one being the long-term plan that spoke about the direction in which the group will move in the next three to five years and the short-term plan which focussed on the way it would progress every month,” said Ohri. “The premise we