Media Agency Culture Media Planning and Buying

Wavemaker India bolsters integration credentials with first-ever chief creative officer role

By Amit Bapna |

February 8, 2023 | 5 min read

Wavemaker India has appointed its first chief creative officer, enticing Ogilvy stalwart George Kovoor to the media agency. The Drum explores what the unusual move is all about.

When a leading media agency hires a creative honcho

When a leading media agency hires a creative honcho

Media agencies have made a lot of noise about their ability to offer clients greater integration. The continuing growth of content, social media and the explosion of OTT and CTV has seen media agencies looking to increase the services it can provide to marketers.

GroupM-owned Wavemaker India has now made a significant show of its ambitions with the appointment of its first-ever chief creative officer, a position previously believed to be the domain of creative agencies.

George Kovoor draws from a 30-year career in creative agencies and joins from Ogilvy India, where he worked for eight years, most recently as the digital lead for the agency's Mumbai and South India operations. In this newly created position, Kovoor will report directly to Ajay Gupte, CEO – South Asia, Wavemaker.

It is not often that a media agency creates a senior CXO position of CCO so when one of the leading media agencies of the country unveiled its plans to do exactly that, The Drum decided to get behind the evolving narrative.

The CEO's perspective

Wavemaker has the media mandate for some of the biggest clients that include Tata Consumer Products, Perfetti van Melle, Mondelez, L’Oreal, Myntra, Netflix, VIP Industries etc. According to Gupte, this move is part of the agency’s bid to build capability and offer a unique and compelling solution for the clients, which includes “taking a consumer-centric approach, gaining insights into the consumer journey to effectively reach them with targeted messaging”.

In this evolving backdrop, Kovoor’s mandate would be to “play a key role in strengthening our integrated approach, bringing together the power of media, content, and technology to drive growth for our clients”, shares Gupte.

The CCO perspective

On his part, Kovoor says that he had no hesitation to join a media company even though, he has spent over thirty years in advertising and creative agencies. The reason, according to him, “I believe media companies are better equipped to deliver solutions of the future.”

Having followed Wavemaker’s success in recent years, Kovoor is excited to join a team of digital experts who are redefining the marketing landscape in India. The years spent at Ogilvy have been invaluable for Kovoor and “have shaped me as a creative person and helped sharpen my craft in ways that I can’t even begin to explain”, he adds.

The evolving interplay of creativity and content

Toby Jenner, global chief executive officer of Wavemaker, told this journalist in an interview during his 2019 visit to India, that the agency was keen to push the boundaries around “the role of creativity and the part for media agencies”.

“We are very clear that we are not here to do what the existing creative agencies like Ogilvy and Wunderman Thompson do. We are here to look at content and creative assets through the lens of media optimisation. And there is a very big difference there. Our job is to ensure that the media dollars of our clients are optimised.”

In the rapidly changing landscape of modern India, as the nation acclerates out of the pandemic, his comments seem as relevant as ever. As content increasingly occupies centre-stage the battle to control this lucrative area has never been fiercer. Hiring a creative specialist to sharpen the existing offering by a media agency is an obvious and logical choice.

Wavemaker India is certainly not the first agency to do so - Maxus Global announced the appointment of Jen Smith as its first-ever global creative director back in 2016, for example. However, the appetite for this sort of hiring is stronger than ever in the current marketplace.

The media agency of tomorrow is certain to be chasing control of a fully integrated communications plan, instead of just the media plan.

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