“We are positioning ADK Fortune as a challenger agency”

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Updated: September 29, 2015 10:15:03 AM

Launched in 2008, ADK Fortune was the result of a 50:50 joint venture formed between Japan’s ADK Group and WPP’s J Walter Thompson.

adk groupLaunched in 2008, ADK Fortune was the result of a 50:50 joint venture formed between Japan’s ADK Group and WPP’s J Walter Thompson.

FACE OFF: Rob Sherlock & Subroto Pradhan

Launched in 2008, ADK Fortune was the result of a 50:50 joint venture formed between Japan’s ADK Group and WPP’s J Walter Thompson. And now six years later, with a new team in place that includes Rob Sherlock, worldwide executive creative director, ADK and Subroto Pradhan, senior vice president, ADK Fortune – the agency is set to script a new beginning in India.

Positioned as the ‘challenger agency’, it has a three-pronged strategy that includes winning Japanese businesses, becoming the preferred agency for start-ups and finally, having a national presence with offices in the southern parts of India. In conversation with FE Brandwagon’s Anushree Bhattacharyya, Pradhan and Sherlock emphasise that “it’s never too late to start over” as they get ready for a successful second innings in India, after a rather slow start. Edited excerpts:

How do you plan to make ADK Fortune a creative powerhouse?

Sherlock: The first shift is changing the model, that is, from being a media planning-centric model to a creative one.

Also with our roots in Japan, ADK Fortune comes with certain strengths such as technology and innovation.

Therefore, digital is always embedded in a lot of the things that we do. So we are looking at creating solutions that are Japanese at heart but are locally relevant. The perfect model for us is a combination of local plus Japanese. While the Japanese are very analytical – it’s the head at work most of the time—we are now adding the heart.

Ultimately, it is about finding a position in the market, and not just a positioning. This is the reason why we are positioning ADK Fortune as a challenger agency. We look at the brand and try to find the best possible solution which is media agnostic and discipline agnostic. That is what defines challenger as opposed to the old school model.

How are you implementing your ‘glocal’ strategy in India?

Sherlock: I think it comes down to relevancy and then breaking it down further market by market. For example, we plan to bring some mobile apps from Japan to India but we won’t dump it on the market asking it to use it the same way it is used in Japan. The product has to be tuned in such a way that it becomes locally relevant. Also, the aim is to reduce single source based creative solutions to transform the communication entity into a curator of creative ideas.

To do this, ADK tapped into the method of co-creation by forming alliances with crowd sourcing platforms such as US based Talenthouse, Europe based Zooppa, IKA and Unruly. We have done many big co-creation projects with these platforms. Last year, within ADK we started a company called Sticki. The division is mainly for crowdsourcing all the content from our six partners.

So, has the scenario in India become any better for ADK Fortune in the last few months?

Pradhan: While we managed to do pretty well by wining interesting businesses such as Yahama, the real change happened in the last eight months. The contribution of new business in ADK Group’s overall revenue is 57%. In the last eight months, not only have we managed to win significant businesses, we have raised the bar as far as our creative products are concerned. We have a very good team now with Akashneel Dasgupta (creative head, ADK Fortune) as my creative partner and Saumya Chattopadhyay (VP and head, strategy planning) as my planning partner. We recently won businesses such as Ghari detergent including the soap business – Venus. Additionally, we have won the duties for Greenlam, Datawind makers of Akash tablet and Mankind Pharma. We have also won a few Japanese businesses including Mitsubishi Electrics and energy company JX Nippon.

So what are your future plans for the agency?

Pradhan: ADK Fortune is actually a partnership of strength because apart from being part of the WPP network, we are closely associated with J. Walter Thompson in addition to our close tie-up with ADK Group. This gives us a very distinctive advantage. So when we get the strength of two networks, it’s a different story. Yes, we are better positioned to tap into some of the conflicting businesses. But our focus is three-fold. First, the aim is to get more Japanese clients because we have that DNA. Second, we are tapping into the Indian entrepreneur businesses because we think that is the future of the country. India is in start-up mode and we as an agency reflect that sentiment. Lastly, we would like to scale up our presence in the southern region as it is a market full of potential.

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