GroupM’s Maxus brand to exit India after all, as NewCo plans take shape

GroupM has reversed its plan to keep media agency Maxus “alive” in India. It will instead follow the global strategy and merge the agency with MEC to form what is currently known as NewCo.

Two months ago, GroupM Asia-Pacific head Mark Patterson told Campaign Asia that the WPP-owned company intended to keep Maxus as a separate entity after its merger with MEC and as a local brand in India due to its standing as one of the top agencies in the market.

The move would have made India the only market in the world to have Maxus operate as a standalone brand, albeit within the NewCo network.

However, after GroupM announced a new raft of leadership changes at Maxus, MEC and digital agency Essence in India, Patterson responded to a question from Mumbrella Asia to indicate that the plan had now changed.

In a brief response he indicated: “Maxus and MEC clients and teams [to] move. Some to NewCo and some to Essence. No Maxus.”

The shift in planned strategy emerged when GroupM announced that Kartik Sharma, the former managing director of Maxus South Asia, would be the new MD at NewCo for India and South Asia when it launches in January.

Meanwhile, T. Gangadhar, the MD of MEC South Asia, will become chairman of India and managing director of North Asia at Essence.

Anand Chakravarthy, managing partner at Maxus India, will also join Essence as country MD. Chakravarthy will report to both Gangadhar and Kyoko Matsushita, CEO of Essence APAC.

NewCo global CEO Tim Castree said in a statement: “We’re creating a brand new billion-dollar revenue media, content and technology agency, dubbed ‘NewCo’ for now. With such ambition, comes a need for brilliant talent to lead and inspire, and so today’s news is very exciting for us. Under Kartik’s leadership, I am confident that we will have the right team in place to truly make NewCo a formidable future-facing agency in India and South Asia.”

It has been nearly three months since WPP announced it would be merging Maxus and MEC and reducing GroupM’s agencies from four to three.

The world’s largest advertising holding company said at the time the move was to allow the company to focus on its digital ad-buying business Essence.

Following the announcement, Castree said GroupM intended to scrap its Asia Pacific management for NewCo and have all its regional leaders report directly to himself.

Maxus APAC CEO Ajit Varghese will be moving from Singapore to London to head the global market development team at NewCo, while MEC’s Peter Vogel will return to his native Australia to head up NewCo there. 


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