Wavemaker completed half a decade in India this month. The GroupM-owned media agency has been on a roll since its inception with many milestones to boast of. Formed from the merger of GroupM’s two star agencies Maxus and MEC, the agency has won and retained clients like Mondelez, L’Oreal, Myntra, Netflix, Perfetti Van Melle, Tata Consumer Products, Mother Dairy and Policy Bazaar. Even in its early years, Wavemaker
successfully converted the pandemic adversity into an opportunity, helping brands navigate the crisis with solutions that resonate with their purpose. The much-talked-about campaign for Cadbury with Shah Rukh Khan, conceptualized with creative partner Ogilvy, won Wavemaker five Cannes Lions, including a Titanium, apart from other accolades across events.Be it winning prestigious awards, acquiring new business or building future-ready capabilities, the last five years have given Wavemaker enough to celebrate. The agency is believed to have added 10% in new billing from inorganic business wins in 2021 alone. Its consistent performance helped it clinch businesses worth Rs 1,500 crore between 2021 and 2022.
Despite losing an account as big as ITC Foods (estimated to be worth Rs 600 crore), Wavemaker added Rs 750 crore more to its billing in 2022. Some of the new clients
added in its kitty in last two years include VIP Industries, Danone, TrueCaller, KreditBee, Sharekhan, Kisna Jewellers, CoinDCX, PayTM First Games and Audible.
So it’s not hard to guess why Ajay Gupte, CEO of Wavemaker South Asia, is a happy man. His boss Toby Jenner, Global CEO of Wavemaker, can’t stop praising India and Gupte’s leadership. “I’m continuously impressed with the quality of work that comes from Ajay and his team. They go from strength to strength. Even at the height of the pandemic, Wavemaker India was producing award-winning work and bagging new businesses. When traditional media like print, TV and outdoor suffered, our teams pivoted and presented clients with strong ideas for digital, OTT, content, influencer and performance marketing,” said Jenner.
Ask Gupte and he will attribute most of his success to the vision of CEO Jenner and the legacy he inherited. “It’s all a part of the plan that we are all meticulously working towards. Firstly, I think we’re all driven by our global CEO’s vision to be the world’s most wanted media agency and we all are passionately making sure that we hold the mantle of India’s most wanted media agency. Right from the Maxus days, we have been very innovative, always trying to do something different.”
Gupte claims that the vision to stay ahead of the curve was conceived way back in 2005 when he was part of Maxus as its Head of operations. “Not many media agencies then thought beyond radio and television with a little bit of digital, which was at 1% spending those days. Despite which, we had a strong digital and content team even then,” he added.
Going forward, the agency aims at building newer avenues for growth. In the middle of the pandemic, it formally launched its consultancy business to help brands navigate through crisis. In the last decade, the media industry perceived consultancies like Accenture and McKinsey as potential competition to their role as advisors and partners to clients. But Wavemaker entered the space and now consultancy services alone make up almost 25 percent of their business.