New Delhi: J Walter Thompson, one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, has named Tarun Rai as its new South Asia CEO, replacing Colvyn Harris, who has been heading JWT in India for 10 years.
Rai was the CEO of Worldwide Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd that owns The Times of India and The Economic Times. Harris will take up a global role as executive director, global growth and client development. Both Harris and Rai will report to Gustavo Martinez, global CEO at JWT. “This change in India management is on the back of my vision of creating a new style of management,” Martinez said. “Tarun (Rai) has the global business acumen and pioneering spirit needed to lead JWT South Asia.”
JWT is India’s largest advertising agency with annual revenues of Rs 2,000 crore. The new management will take to office in the third week of February. Rai is a JWT veteran, having had a 19-year stint at the agency before quitting in 2008.
As JWT South Asia head he will be in charge of the agency’s operations in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, as well as JWT’s Indian companies Contract Advertising, Hungama Digital Services, JWT Mindset, Encompass and Social Wavelength. He will work closely with Nick Romas, JWT Asia Pacific CFO. Harris, in his new role, will manage JWT’s global growth and will primarily work out of its New York, London and Singapore offices.
Martinez said that the process of selecting a successor for Harris has been on for a while. Talking about the new management and creative leadership in India, he said, “I want to give Tarun Rai the time to come in and make his point of view (which Bob Jeffrey gave me) and allow him to set up his team.” At JWT, Rai handled several major clients including Hindustan Unilever, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Pizza Hut, DeBeers, ITC and Tata Steel.
An alumnus of the London School of Economics, Tarun Rai has over 25 years’ experience in advertising and media. Harris has completed 35 years at JWT, and his roles included being Contract Advertising CEO, JWT Colombo managing director. “Every day has been an opportunity across my professional career at JWT,” Harris said. “I look forward to being an integral part of the global client development team.”