He's 68, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Ranjan Kapur, country manager, WPP India, has the additional responsibility of Bates India now as its chairman, but the former head of Ogilvy & Mather has taken it up in earnest.
Kapur comes at a time when Bates' group CEO Sandeep Pathak and chairman & regional executive creative director Sonal Dabral have both resigned.
He says that the search for new people for these positions is under way. "The departure of two people is not a loss, but an opportunity to fill the slots with the right people," Kapur says.
He is looking for candidates who are in sync with the agency's change-engage philosophy. "Bates is a dialogue agency," he says. "That is, we identify changes in consumer behaviour and then engage with them using new or existing codes of engagement."
This philosophy essentially plays on Bates' strengths, which lie outside of advertising. That is, in areas such as activation, digital, shopper marketing, retail and outdoor, which give the agency 60 per cent of its revenues. "Whilst we haven’t taken our eyes off advertising, Bates has done some fabulous work in the non-advertising space," Kapur says.
It is these strengths that Kapur wishes to highlight. By positioning itself on the platform of change-engage, Kapur reckons his agency will not fall into the trap of being a TV, print or digital specialist. "We want to be media and discipline neutral," he says.
For that, he has set into motion a few changes. Teams in Mumbai and Delhi are expected to sit together across disciplines and provide ideas and solutions that can be used across media. Kolkata, says Kapur, is already doing this.
Kapur is also betting on the growth that segments such as digital are slated to see. "High-growth areas are in the non-advertising space," he says. "In the last eight years as country manager of WPP in India, I have encouraged non-advertising companies from the group to come here rather than advertising agencies," he says.