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Communicate Online | Regional Edition | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

BPG Group CEO on restructure: “We are buying our independence.”

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BPG Group CEO on restructure: “We are buying our independence.”

BPG Group is asserting its independence through a restructuring that aims to make the group “more client-centric and more relevant as a marketing service provider,” according to a note sent out by Satish Mayya, CEO, BPG Max – the rebranded BPG Maxus.

The structure

The restructure will see BPG Bates, BPG Cohn & Wolfe, BPG Maxus and BPG Possible replaced by two verticals: BPG Max, which will handle media and data just like BPG Maxus, and the newly launched BPG Orange, which will combine the offerings of Bates, Cohn & Wolfe and Possible, to offer content and consulting.

Avi Bhojani, Group CEO, BPG asserts, “Max is not just media. It’s also analytics and experiences.”

Mayya will continue to head BPG Max while Fiona Quinn, head of BPG’s Kuwait operation, will head BPG Orange.

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Bhojani clarifies that BPG Orange will work as a marketing services – not as a strategy – consultant. “We are not about finding solutions to better run the business. We are about connecting brands to consumers and companies to stakeholders.”

When asked if this positioning is an answer to the foray of consultancies in the advertising and marketing space, he says, yes and no. “Traditional agencies – and we have been one too – have gone down the food chain because we became executors of marketing collateral,” he says. Although strategic consultancies are beginning to enter this space, “they don’t have the mandate to be creative,” he adds.

Add to that the work culture and team spirit. In order to find a solution to a business problem, you need a team with diverse people across content, creative, data, etc. “That’s probably one of the organizational weaknesses [of agencies] because solutions take longer, but it also makes us better equipped to create brand stories and have the right culture,” explains Bhojani.

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Simply put, he says, “Strategic consultancies have the IQ, but not necessarily the EQ.”

The relationship with WPP and GroupM

On January 1, MEC and Maxus merged to become Wavemaker. However, that didn’t happen in the region where BPG has a larger stake in Maxus than WPP, which has a 40 percent stake in the company.

Maxus, or rather BPG Max, however, will continue to be part of GroupM, but Bhojani says it will be on “a quid pro quo basis”. In any case, being part of GroupM hasn’t yielded any significant benefits to Maxus, he adds. “We have always had to – and will continue to – fish our own fish.”

Yet, Bhojani sees the relationship continuing. Although he says, “We are buying our independence to operate and deliver to clients in an agile and seamless manner,” he goes on to clarify that the move is not “us buying ourselves back from WPP.”

“We are dropping the WPP suffixes and taking destiny in our own hands,” says Bhojani indicating his wariness of an over-reliance on WPP and its brands. He adds that Maxus was killed by WPP as a brand due to the MEC-Maxus merger. Similarly, Cohn & Wolfe was merged with Burson-Marsteller. And so, “Let’s not use WPP brands as crutches,” he says. “Today they’re there, tomorrow they might be not there.”

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Moreover, clients today want ‘glocal’ solutions. The abundance of data has especially emphasized the need for local insights and solutions. Therefore, GroupM’s global capabilities are not of much use. “I can’t present to a client in Dubai work that is done by a team in Sao Paolo,” says Bhojani.

BPG Max will still work with GroupM though, he reiterates. But, “It’s for us to create our narrative and to use the GroupM aggregation and toolkit on a mutually reciprocal basis.”

Bhojani denies any rumors of tension with GroupM following the restructure.

“We have been one of the most successful businesses for WPP MENA in the last 15 years,” he says. And yet, when it comes to GroupM picking agencies for a pitch, he says, “We may be the last choice but it doesn’t matter because our solutions would be more locally relevant.”

GroupM declined to comment.

 

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