"I understand that the client has approved it, but will it deliver results in the market." That’s one question you don’t hear much in the advertising world! And that’s why, nearly 15 years after it was asked in an intense agency meeting, it has stayed with me. To a great extent, it typified FCB Ulka’s approach to work. Something all of us in the Delhi office had come to experience frequently, especially from Arvind Wable.
This question did not just express his disagreement with the creative solution. It said something you wish more and more in the industry embraced. That client approval was no crutch to be used for work you personally lacked belief in. Indeed, the client is no god whose approval means all is well! As advertising professionals, he demanded you to have conviction BEFORE client approval.
In a display of similar conviction, a client was once told not to launch a product, in a pitch presentation! And on a new account, you dared not discuss strategy until you had spent adequate time talking to consumers!
Arvind to my mind was as complete a leader as I have come across in my career. Extremely charming as a person, I recall one of my colleagues who had joined because she was too embarrassed to say no to a person like Arvind! A fantastic presenter, he had the ability to make an agency credentials deck feel like a mesmerizing story.
He firmly believed in the agency principle of ‘there are no heroes and no zeros’ when it came to people in the agency. Something some of us in our youthful josh argued against vigorously, but many years later realize that in an industry plagued with high employee turnover, we had our longest stint at FCB Ulka, thanks in many ways to this ideology in practice.
Today, when looking at many of the challenges the industry is faced with – dipping client trust, sliding agency remuneration, worrisome quality of talent, spiraling people turnover rates, you wish they made more leaders like him!