Life was a
peach for Rajat Sethi while he was at Tara Sinha McCann-Erickson in the
mid-nineties. As senior vice-president he was looking after an array of
brands and serving their ‘traditional’ communication needs. His world
turned upside the day the agency was taken over by McCann-Erickson
Worldwide. "The entire team of Result, the direct marketing company of
Tara Sinha McCann-Erickson, walked out, leaving the company high and
dry," he reminisces. With blessings from the new management team at the
agency, Sethi helped rebuild Result, and in the process, fell in love
with direct marketing. Today, as chief executive officer at the India
office of Wunderman, one of the largest integrated marketing solutions
companies in the world, he is as excited about direct marketing and
customer relationship management issues, as he was when he first took
to this discipline.
This is the introduction to a 2003 interview of Rajat Sethi, ex Sr Vice President and Head, Result:McCann, India. I found it when googling for links to my previous post, and serendipitously, the very story I was hesitating to write, has been touched upon here. So, come, sit by the fire and listen to what really happened, before Rajat came to Result back in June 1995.
Monday was May 5th 1995, I recall the date, I have never forgotten that Monday in the decade since, I came to work after a long weekend catching up with an old flame in Bangalore and had flown into New Delhi late Sunday night. I was not my best in the mornings, but anyone who’s worked with me, usually figures out I’m better after the second cup of coffee. But that morning when I walked up to the office, I could tell something was wrong before I even reached the front door. Mohar Singh the driver was standing talking to Vijay the peon and you could tell they were verbally wringing their hands in terror. As soon as they saw me they came straight up to me together and started off,
" Madam, help us, save our jobs, what will we do, you are the only here, you are the seniormost, tell us what to do".
[Now I could insert a long cultural note to clarify all the politically incorrect language I’ve used in this paragraph, but rest assured, that is how things worked. And I was just an AE, under a New Delhi branch manager at that time. Keep in mind that India has no welfare or security net for it’s citizens. At a certain socioeconomic strata being out on the street without a job means starvation for the family until the next paycheck.]
In addition, there were the subtle heirarchies of the AE’s, the field managers and supervisors – field staff as in they managed the hundreds of college students or daily wages workers we used for door to door promotions, product launches and other events in the field, requiring street smarts to outwit thugs at night, cops during the day and night as well as all the logistical and beareaucratic permissions for a parade etc – and the support staff that every third world office has – drivers, cleaners, kitchen staff, peons of different levels, office boys etc. Labor is plentiful.
In this context, what had happened, as I was to discover was that over the weekend, the Managing Director, his other Directors, the Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Bangalore and Calcutta branch managers and other senior staff had, along with all the client files and work in progress, fled. Oh, and they took the boombox and were trying to take the car, but we stopped them. heh. sigh. Imagine walking into your office on Monday morning to find your desk stripped of client files, papers strewn across the floor, everyone’s desk ransacked, computers, equipment, everything, gone. Luckily the desks were oversize workstations and our chairs were still there. So I sat down and had a cup of tea and a cigarette.
to be continued..