Tuesday, November 14, 2006

David-Bates-Enterprise: Menage a trois or trouble?

I just received an sms alert from my friendly industry spammer, about a David-Bates-Enterprise merger. Yes, David, Bates, Enterprise... I've double checked the article it pointed to, and you can see for yourself.

For those of you who don't have the context of Indian advertising agencies - this is the wierdest merger anyone of us here can imagine! Because the three entities seem to have nothing in common!

The first union which took place a while back was a typical Indian arranged marriage - where some elders in their wisdom decided to get two very different people married, saying "we know what's best for you. Once you're married, you'll sort out your differences, make adjustments and create a good family. Love? What's love got to do with it? Once you're married, you'll learn to love each other in good time!"

So the two agencies - Bates and Enterprise - one a middle-class-generally-boring-boy of no particular lineage, married the hot-and-popular-westernised-babe from Mumbai.

Being a typical Indian marriage, the boy was put in charge, and the girl was expected to "adjust" and live up the the "new family name" of Bates Enterprise!

Not surprisingly, they had their internal issues (read ego problems) of adjustment, culture, priorities... the works! ...but like most Indian couples they are still living together!

Now along comes this dude David. Yes, david is another dude! Cool, clever, Fun, everything the middle-class boy (and now marriage) is not! David's been independent, standing up against the big boys in all areas (David vs Goliath in real advertising life!)

As a saving grace, his name seems to be the first in the title. The question is, will David's belief systems also get priority in the way they live? Will he get to call the shots, or will he have to quit being enterprising and step back with abated energy?!

I have nothing against each of the individual agencies - in fact I hold the leaders at the helm of each entitiy in high regard:

Mohammed Khan, in my mind is the guru of classy and cool advertising in India;
Subhash Kamath, a great servicing guy and leader to have for your team;
Josy Paul, the unassuming yet brilliant creative guy of contemporary Indian cool.

Each has the substance of a classic advertising person, as against the maverick flash-in-the-pans of today. But each is a name to reckon with, and a leader in his own right. Each has a following, and has nurtured a culture that is distinct from any other (and each other).

The basic question is, will this menage a trois of clashing cultures result in a fantastic threesome, or simply end up to be a menage a trouble?

I wouldn't bet any money on it. But with due regard for the three gentlemen mentioned above, I'd put a little money into a temple and pray for them.

God help you guys! My best wishes are with you.


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