It upped its focus on Indian originals, with the launch of shows like Breathe and Mirzapur.
The WPP shake-up
Martin Sorrell’s exit from WPP as CEO brought Mark Read at the helm. Soon after the restructuring were born two agencies — Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R. The year heralded a new identity for Ogilvy, apart from the announcement of Piyush Pandey replacing Tham Khai Meng as Ogilvy’s global CCO.
Crowds thronged as Ikea inaugurated its first store in India in August 2018 — a 400,000-sq ft showroom housing 7,500 products in Hyderabad’s HITEC City. The Swedish furniture retailer went all out to announce its arrival right from promotions at Hyderabad airport to branded autos and VR tours of the store. A large-format store in Noida is on the cards.
Tough year for Facebook
The year saw Facebook grapple with multiple controversies around security breach, misuse of personal data and fake news. The appointment of Ajit Mohan as VP and MD of its India operations will be crucial as the country braces for elections, and the government mulls over stricter data laws.
Zee’s divestment agenda
In November, Essel Group announced plans to divest 50% of its shareholding in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) in a bid to hunt for a global strategic partner. Expecting to finalise the deal by March-April 2019, the move is an aim to transform the company into a global media-tech player.
Raj Nayak bid adieu
The network’s COO announced his departure in November 2018, although he will continue serving at Viacom18 till February 2019. The network recently also rejigged its senior management: Manisha Sharma was elevated to chief content officer, Hindi mass entertainment; Nina Elavia Jaipuria’s role expanded to head, Hindi and kids TV network; and Ajit Andhare’s role was expanded to COO, Viacom18 Studios.
In May 2018, US retailer Walmart Inc acquired a 77% stake in Flipkart for about $16 billion. It is Walmart’s biggest acquisition and the biggest e-commerce deal globally that resulted in Flipkart’s co-founder and chairman Sachin Bansal exiting the company.
A new Disney-Star avatar
The Walt Disney Company announced in December that Uday Shankar, currently president, 21st Century Fox, Asia, and chairman and CEO of Star India, will become chairman, Star and Disney India, and president, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific.
WhatsApp and fake news
WhatsApp came under fire for its inability to curb fake news, which led to several instances of lynchings in India. The messenger app appointed a grievance officer, while Ajit Bose was roped in to head its India operations — crucial steps as it partners with the government to nip fake news in the bud.
Amazon Prime Video’s India focus
Amazon appointed Voot’s Gaurav Gandhi as director and country manager — India for Prime Video. The position had been vacant since August, 2017. It upped its focus on Indian originals, with the launch of shows like Breathe and Mirzapur.