labels: advertising/branding
It''s time stupid: JWT news
Venkatachari Jagannathan
10 March 2005

Chennai: When some men in police uniform entered the Chennai office of JWT (formerly J. Walter Thomson) on February 28, 2005, and ordered the employees to shut their systems and get into the bus outside to the police station, the employees got agitated.

Surprisingly, the top management cooperated without a murmur of protest with the men in uniform. People from other offices in the Fagun complex looked at the proceedings with interest.

After a 30-minute bus ride to the outskirts of the city, an old man boarded the bus introducing himself as Commodore J Walter Thomson, the long time mascot of the ad agency. The bus reached the Muttukadu boat club where 'Thomson' got into a boat and was bid farewell by the agency staff. Thus JWT Chennai employees bid adieu to the agency's name of 140 years and greeted the new one.

With the suspense over, the team proceeded to Fisherman's Cove where a detailed briefing was held not only about the new brand identity and the logo but also about a new way of working.

Other offices of JWT at Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata experienced similar surprises while unveiling the new brand identity like staffers aboard a yacht bidding a mid-sea farewell to the mascot and holding a colourful parade carnival style to re-entering India through the Gateway of India. In some offices the old signage was burnt or buried with the oldest employees conducted the baptism ritual.

Changing names is not new for JWT in India. The agency entered the country 70 years ago as J. Walter Thompson and later changed to Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA) and in 2002 it changed to its earlier name and now JWT.

The creative way of unveiling the agency's new name and the three colour logo to its internal employees that would linger in their minds for a long time to come symbolises JWT's new target strategy of occupying the end customer's time.

"The name and the logo change is just one aspect of the paradigm shift in the way we propose to conduct our business," says senior vice president & general manager, Anita Gupta.

According to her, JWT's new focus will not only be on the creatives that are worthy of awards but also on making people spend quality time with client brands. "People shouldn't think that ads intrude into their time."

With time becoming the new currency at JWT, creatives will be weaved around on what people are interested in so that they spend their time with the brand. In other words JWT will look at clients' customers as if its own.

The focus on time is assuming importance as Indians too are finding ways of avoiding advertisements- the one simple way is swapping channels though the latter as a strategy seem to align their ad times.

As a part of the new strategy, the agency has set a stringent 10 point scale to assess the output results. The scale ranges from `world beating' on one end to `damaging' on the other with several other grades in between.

The employees have to sign a creative contract that again focuses on the quality of work whereby what the audience sees / does after seeing or experiencing JWT's work is what matters.

Similarly, people are reviewed every quarter on quantitative and qualitative aspects that measures work, people, reputation, client relationships and ofcourse the financial performance.

Would all this put the agency's creative talent under pressure? "The creative talent are already judged daily by the TV viewers with a remote in the hand," Gupta answers.

With the new name and the strategy revealed to the internal stakeholders, Gupta will meet the clients and explain the agency's new ways of doing business.

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It''s time stupid: JWT