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Excellence in creativity can never be achieved: Michael Wall

Lowe global CEO Michael Wall talks about creating a structure of the future, which comes out of managing talent within the agency keeping in mind the changing market dynamics.

, ET Bureau|
May 12, 2010, 06.24 AM IST
Lowe global CEO Michael Wall.
Lowe global CEO Michael Wall.
Few months into a new job and one may give the head honcho leeway to ease into the job before he gets going. But Michael Wall, global CEO, Lowe & Partners Worldwide knows he doesn’t have that luxury. India is a critical market for agencies and marketers and Lowe is no different, and Wall, just seven months into the job has a lot of balancing to do. That means bolstering Lowe’s presence in the country by keeping an eye on the developments in the market place. And amidst the market madness, he manages to make time not only talk to BE, but also grab a quick lunch during the conversation. First on the agenda, we ask about a few senior management changes on the anvil at Lowe India, guarded in his answer Wall says, “There are no grand announcements to make right now.” The reason he says is that it’s not just about one or two people in the organisation but the entire organisational framework that he’s looking to change.

The priority, he says, is to create a structure for the future by managing the talent we have in India. “The structure has to assimilate with what’s happening out there in the market. No longer are we living in a static market place,” says Wall. So the challenge, he says, is how to evolve and help Lowe become a great agency not only in India but also globally. In order to do that Wall counts training, having a cultural change, technology, demonstrating by example and even marketing strategies across digital and PR his trump cards.

Before moving to Lowe, Wall was heading BBDO Portugal and holds the distinction of being one the founding partners of Fallon London. His journey from a partner to the international president of Fallon is an experience that Wall is keen to put to good use at Lowe. “At Fallon — a company that I setup and one which grew through creativity and had notable success, the way to work and the culture of the agency played an important role. I intend to use this experience,” says Wall.

For Lowe, says Wall, the future strength of the network does not lie in developed economies but in the developing countries. Lowe Lintas’ success in India, on brands like Tata Tea and Idea Cellular among others, has helped the Indian entity rank fourth within the network, and in Wall’s vision for the agency worldwide, India has a critical role to play. “The Lowe network today is well placed across economies and our core strength lies in markets like India, China, Indonesia and Turkey. However, there is some old fashioned work that needs to be done in the US & the UK,” he says. India at this moment, in terms of revenue, performance etc is behind US, UK and Brazil — but is in a position to move to the top within the next three years, he points out.

Besides the market’s potential, India has quality talent to offer. In a recently concluded quarterly review of creative directors held in Buenos Aires, Argentina — India and Argentina, says Wall, have been recognised as markets that have cracked the creative formula within the network . “And this verdict has been given by the core group, which is a mix of talent, ego... and they by mutual consensus have put India on top.” In Wall’s opinion, excellence in creativity can never be achieved, for it is something that “one has to be relentless, demanding, unsatisfied, angry, disappointed and always be looking for the next thing and the next and the next thing,” he says.

In his task list as the new boss, Wall says, his main responsibility as the CEO of the network is to deliver. And delivering comes by making the network grow — through new business, new disciplines, M&As and varied activities. In India, this aspiration has made Lowe seek opportunities that exist in markets like Kochi and Delhi and going forward it will be the tier 2 towns. “We are a big premium agency, but that doesn’t stop us from looking at markets for growth,” he says, “we are not in either/or business. We are in the ‘and‘ business.”
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