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Newsmakers 2017

26 Dec 2017

BrandWagon handpicks some of the big-bang developments that made headlines this year

Mergers and acquisitions

The year started with the news of WPP’s GroupM increasing its share to 74% in MediaCom India to become a majority stakeholder with Sam Balsara and family holding the remaining 26% in the venture. Another noteworthy news was the merger of MEC and Maxus to form Wavemaker. Dentsu Aegis Network expanded by acquiring SVG Media, Sri Lanka’s Grant Group, and launched Merkle by acquiring Sokrati in the country, amongst many more. Publicis Communications’ Solutions merged with Arc Worldwide while Publicis Worldwide rolled out Marcel in India, and merged Publicis Ambience and Publicis Capital as Publicis India. O&M India strengthened Soho Square by merging Bates CHI & Partners into it. MullenLowe Lintas Group launched PointNine by merging three of its existing divisions — GolinOpinion, LinTeractive and LinEngage. ZEEL acquired 9X Media and its subsidiaries for an all cash consideration of Rs 1,600 million. It also sold off its sports properties (Ten) to Sony Pictures Networks for approximately Rs 232 crore.

Meanwhile, The Walt Disney Company closed the $52.4 billion-takeover of 21st Century Fox. In India, this led to the elevation of Star India chairman and CEO Uday Shankar to the role of president, 21st Century Fox Asia. The next year will also see the Idea-Vodafone merger take shape, intensifying the telecom war. Ola closed the year by acquiring Foodpanda’s India business.

By Meghna Sharma

Big moves…

The biggest movement and possibly the one that generated the most reactions in the ad fraternity in 2017 was Sonal Dabral moving back to Ogilvy India after his five-year tenure at DDB Mudra. Post his exit, the Rahul Mathew-Brijesh Jacob duo got the responsibility to lead DDB Mudra with both reporting to Vineet Gupta, group CEO. Its former CEO and MD Madhukar Kamath had stepped down from his position earlier this year. Another big O&M India news was Rajiv Rao’s exit after an 18-year stint with the agency. After a 26-year association with MullenLowe Lintas Group, Joseph George called it quits at the agency earlier this year. Srija Chatterjee was brought in from MullenLowe Singapore as MD for Publicis Worldwide India. Reporting to her is Ravpreet Ganesh from Leo Burnett who was appointed as executive director. As Charulata Ravi Verma moved on, Himani Kapadia was brought in as CEO India for SapientRazorfish and DigitasLbi. As part of the restructuring, Sanjay Menon was elevated to the position of MD, Sapient India.

Madison Communication’s Vikram Sakhuja, group CEO, media and OOH, is now the president of The Advertising Club. Sandeep Bhushan has been appointed as the current interim MD at Facebook following Umang Bedi’s exit as MD, India and South Asia, at the company. July, 2017 saw Sameer Nair of Balaji Telefilms moving on to Aditya Birla’s production house, Applause Entertainment, with the mandate to grow binge-worthy content. Nitesh Kriplani, who had joined Amazon India in 2014 to lead the Prime Video offering as country head, stepped out of the role in August this year. Endemol Shine’s Deepak Dhar called it quits at the company after a 12-year stint. Another veteran to call it a day at their company after a long stint was Ashish Bagga who moved out of his role at India Today Group in August. He held the position of CEO until his exit. In May this year, Ashwin Padmanabhan quit his role of COO at Reliance Broadcast (92.7 Big FM). He has since then moved to GroupM as head, trading and partnerships. Dish TV’s CEO Arun Kapoor moved out of his role to take up teaching and social work, making way for Anil Dua as the new CEO. October saw PepsiCo India’s CEO, D Shivakumar resigning and joining Aditya Birla Group as president — corporate strategy and business development.

By Shinmin Bali

… And more eye poppers

Cricket spells money in India, literally. In September this year, Rupert Murdoch-backed Star India bagged Indian Premier League’s media rights for a whopping Rs 16,347.50 crore for a period of five years (2018-22), giving huge impetus to the sport. The consolidated worldwide bid for TV and digital broadcast rights was double the amount of what previous broadcaster Sony had paid in 2008 (Rs 8,200 crore). However, Sony could not pip Star when it bid for IPL rights in the Indian region for Rs 11,050 crore. Facebook also tried its luck bidding for digital rights for Rs 3,900 crore. Other players that bid for its digital rights included Airtel (Rs 3,280 crore) and Reliance Jio (Rs 3,075.72 crore). In other interesting news, filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani, who was serving as CBFC’s chairman since 2005, was removed from his post and in a surprise move, lyricist and ad man Prasoon Joshi took over the reins of the organisation with effect from August 11, 2017. He has been appointed for a period of three years or ‘until further orders’, according to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Among the headlines that made most noise this year was the growing concern about privacy. While Aadhaar continues to draw concern from Indian citizens, YouTube’s ad mess this year and the resultant advertising boycott brought the digital advertising under the scanner the world over. It reportedly cost Google a lot of money, thanks to inappropriate content such as extremist videos appearing next to ads of big brands. Many brands such as Verizon, Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Banking Group, O2, L’Oréal, Channel 4, Havas (on behalf of all the UK clients), etc pulled their ads from the platform. YouTube then announced that it will no longer serve ads on its channels that have less than 10,000-
lifetime views.

By  Ananya Saha

Rebranding galore

Amidst all the action in the M&E sector, 2017 was also a year for several brands to hit the refresh button, adopt a new look, identity, and zingier philosophies. The broadcast sector led the space with ZEEL unveiling a new corporate identity to be
Extraordinary Together with a new look for all its group channels. Similarly, rival network Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) rebranded its sports portfolio post the acquisition of Ten, and its music and Hindi general entertainment channels — Sony Mix and SAB, respectively.  Star India was not far behind as it rebranded Life OK to a more rustic Star Bharat; Epic turned into an infotainment channel with an all new look; and Big FM donned a peppier image. Times Network exercised a new identity for ET Now, and renamed Movies Now 2 as MNX and Magicbricks Now as Mirror Now. TV18-owned ETV News Network renamed its regional news channel as News18 Punjab/Haryana/Himachal, while India Today revamped its 42-year old magazine
India Today. Zenith launched a new global brand vision and identity called ROI, reimagining its ‘peak’ logo as a frame. Meanwhile, Dentsu Aegis Network rebranded its media planning arm Dentsu Media as Dentsu X, with a new proposition Experience

Beyond Exposure. Also donning a more colourful look was Leo Burnett Orchard, which attained a new identity and a logo made from building blocks. Packaged drinks also got innovative in 2017 with Rasna revamping its flagship fruit-based concentrate drink in a new avatar after 40 years. Similarly, Parle Agro’s Appy got a bolder and chic look by evolving its logo. Dabur revamped the brand identity for its range of Real Activ Juices attempting to make it the preferred choice for health-conscious consumers, and health drink Complan unveiled its New Best Ever Complan with a new packaging and brand philosophy. Amongst other news from the Tata Group, Tata Motors launched a new corporate brand identity — Connecting Aspirations. In a similar vein, Vodafone unveiled a new brand positioning after eight years with a visual identity around the thought, The Future is exciting. Ready? Also building on its core values and ensuring customer happiness was Pepperfry with a new visual identity adopting a flaming orange colour and the shape of the letters denoting a smile. Amongst others, Rupa Frontline revamped its brand identity with a new logo to target a younger audience; shoe brand Campus unveiled a new logo, and signed on Aisha Sharma and Varun Dhawan as brand ambassadors. Uber Eats also underwent a global brand refresh recently, with a vibrant new look reflecting the app’s offerings.

By  Chandni Mathur

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