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Talented founders want to show world you can do great work in India and be independent


By Amit Bapna, Editor-at-large

May 5, 2022 | 4 min read

The Drum catches up with the founding partners of indie Indian agency Talented to hear more about their game plan for the newly launched creative shop.

One more indie agency launched: ‘Talented’ co-founders Gautam Reghunath and PG Aditiya

Talented co-founders Gautam Reghunath and PG Aditiya

Gautam Reghunath and PG Aditiya have been a team since their early days at Webchutney, the digital agency that was acquired by Dentsu in 2013 and which – as chief exec and chief creative officer respectively – the homegrown leaders grew to become one of India’s most celebrated.

Now, the duo have combined their experience to launch Talented, a new venture centered around what they say needs to be the most valued currency in the industry – its talent.

“While the world certainly doesn’t need another advertising agency, it does need a serious reimagination of the agency experience,” says Reghunath, “both for clients and for the talent in advertising.”

Aditiya, meanwhile, tells The Drum: “We have some ideas that we believe can fundamentally alter what our business means, for those working in it and for our clients.”

The co-founders believe they have the perfect vantage point to understand how the agency business can be made better. In their sights are “the inequity, the reputation of poor pay, the often-horrible hours, the ineffective work, the looming irrelevance and the incredulous lack of focus on own brand”.

Both see these gaps as opportunities to be tapped into, with Reghunath saying that any focus on these parameters needs to be internal: “Our actions and policies would have to back up our words and press releases.”

He says: ”The inequity around which our industry has been built is a reality of advertising that history will not be kind to.” Elaborating on the challenges, he adds: “Most large legacy agencies are structured with a very tiny group of people bearing most of the glory and the upside.”

Instead, the co-founders want to bring about change with their agency setup – for example, through its equity allocations and an employee stock ownership plan. “Upwards of 20% of the agency will be employee-owned over the next few years,” says Aditiya.

Rebuilding the reputation of the ad industry

Over the last few decades, advertising has built a reputation for itself as a lethargic industry, according to Reghunath, and an outcome of this has been the failure to keep clients that do not want to move at such a slow speed.

In this environment, the biggest risk isn’t making a mistake or losing consistency. Rather, it is a more fundamental challenge – of becoming irrelevant. “Being nimble hasn’t always been advertising’s strong suit and this is often a tougher ask the larger you get”, adds Reghunath.

The solution to becoming nimble, says Aditiya, would involve opening up to work with partners that may have complementary strengths. “We want to be the kind of company that other collaborators cannot wait to work with.”

Talented hopes to do this by getting the simple things right – such as paying on time, being responsive or simply being generous with credit.

The duo confess to being inspired by some of the best global brands in this journey. “The agencies we have admired over the last few years were all independent for long periods, such as Droga5, Crispin and 72andSunny,” says Reghunath. The current list of independent hot shops he is looking at include Uncommon, Mother and Gut.

He adds that the hope is to show the world that it is possible to do great work in India by being independent: “We all know perfectly well what needs to improve in the agency business. We just plan to execute it to perfection.”

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