By PRIYANKA MEHRA
“I have very big ambitions for FCB Ulka,” confirms Murray. With Rohit coming onboard along with some of the creative talent we already have, my challenge to them is how we can help our clients and work together with them to raise the profile of India on a global stage in the industry, he says.
“I am excited about Rohit coming on board because I think he is the right influx of talent and perspective to work with the team we have here and take Ulka on the next step of its journey. It’s very different from doing a reinvention wherein you bring a team onboard to completely change things. That’s not what we have here. Here, we have a successful agency and a strong culture. I think Rohit is going to bring fresh energy and perspective to what is already an experienced energised team,” shares Murray.
“There are certain goals that I, as Global CEO, look to deliver and I expect the same from all other CEOs, including Rohit. One is to be able to retain and attract the very best talent in the industry. Through his leadership he needs to create a culture and ambition to attract and keep key talent. He should have energy and passion for the creative business. I think sometimes our industry follows trends, which is understandable, but the core of what we do is creative work,” he adds.
Edited excerpts from Q & A with Murray –
Q] Does FCB Ulka India plan on making any acquisitions in the near future?
India is one of the most important markets in the world for any multinational client and it’s the same with an advertising agency. So if had to go to the board and say that we want to do an acquisition, one of the three or four main markets in the world where we might do that is India. Do we need it? My hunch tells me in the next year or two, we don’t.
Q] As one of the youngest global CEOs, do you think we need younger leadership at the decision making positions in advertising today?
We need to fix the diversity and gender imbalance in leadership positions more than we need to fix the age issue. I know with all certainty that it’s a problem. As an industry and at FCB as well we need to get our house in order. We need to have a mix of people in top management to bring different perspectives into conversations.
Q] Is there anything you want to change in terms of business or P&L?
There’s nothing I want to change. For this market, we’re not making crazy margins but we are making fair margins. We have large scale revenue and are one of the top agencies here. So, I want to grow but I don’t have any revolutionary ambitions or desires. I don’t have any pressures to double the size of the margin because if I push the margin too far, I’ll start to destroy the company. I want Ulka to keep its size and scale. Yes, I do want to keep growing but I want to do that by focusing on the creative talent and product. A lot of the holding companies and networks today have been pushed into putting the numbers first. But for me, the numbers should be a reflection of the quality of work and talent in the creative sphere and how we help clients. Not by focusing on the numbers at the cost of sacrificing in those other areas. If you do great business and take care of your clients then the numbers take care of themselves.
Q] Will we be seeing a lot of movement of talent from Dentsu to FCB Ulka with Rohit coming on board?
I heard of a lot of speculation around this, but it’s untrue. Rohit needs to come onboard and see what the team is here. I assume he might want to bring one or two individuals onboard with him. Speculating on what Rohit will do is unfair to him. What I do know is that part of the process of bringing in Rohit is that he’s a great guy, very smart, determined and unbelievably respectful of the Ulka brand and eager to come onboard. Many of the partners at Ulka proactively told me about him so there was chemistry and a dynamic that worked.
Q] Which other Indian agencies do you see doing good work in your view?
I think Lowe and McCann have had a good reputation for a long time. We mainly look to our sister companies for competition. There are also one or two boutique companies which started recently, from which I think more and more of the competition will come, in the future.
Q] Are there key areas that the industry needs to work on from a creative perspective?
There is opportunity in art and design, to elevate the level of advertising. With creativity you have to take lateral leaps and I think there’s a cultural environment in which we can do that even more here.
The Carter Quotient
“The head hunter who came to me with this job told me I had to take it because it would make me the youngest CEO (at 38 years) of an agency network of this scale. This to me was less of an incentive to take the job. I should not take the job because I’m probably unqualified. But, I took it, and I love it. And we’re doing pretty well. But that’s not because of me, I have people in my global team who are insanely good at what they do,” shares Carter Murray, Worldwide CEO, FCB.
“Sometimes people think that in order to be a good leader you have to be nasty, but you can be nice and tough without turning nasty. I tend to be tough when we commit to things and people don’t deliver. But I’m tough on myself too. I think that’s what makes it fair,” explains Murray.
Murray, who self-admittedly dislikes using corporate jargon says, “Less corporate jargon, the more effective you are as a marketer and a leader. If you really want to connect with people, you need to get rid of the jargon. I do sometimes fall into that jargon, but I hate it. I think it’s impersonal. My pet peeve is corporate emails sent out without the name of the person who it’s from at the bottom. These emails have been written by people, not computers and this is an example of where it goes wrong.”
He describes his leadership style as open, authentic and direct, and believes that his two years as Global CEO have been filled with immense learning, the highpoint being discovering and recruiting people who have turned out to be highly successful in their roles. While hiring he looks for people who are passionate about the advertising industry, and want to keep learning. According to him, the most successful people are the ones who are always learning.
“Another thing I look for in people is unique qualities. They have something about them, in one area that is exceptional, whether it’s the creative spark or interpersonal skills, etc. I look for that X chromosome,” adds Murray.
A self- proclaimed multi-tasker Murray is quite adept at multi-tasking his personal and professional life—be it 300-odd emails he receives on a daily basis, to a day packed with meetings. “I’m comfortable with juggling lots of things at one point. I multi-task on a minute-by-minute basis sometimes,” he shares.
Carter Murray took on the helm of FCB in September 2013. Based in New York, he oversees 151 offices in 90 countries globally. The former president and chief executive officer of Y&R Advertising North America has spent much of his career helping clients develop and manage brands across marketing disciplines and regions. Murray rose to chief marketing officer at Publicis Worldwide due, in part, to his success as worldwide account director on Nestlé. He drove double-digit growth for the agency’s global account across 80 markets. Murray began his advertising career at Leo Burnett in Chicago as a Philip Morris account executive.