Crayons is ringing in its silver anniversary in colourful style - dipping into the full palette of colours, so to speak. In its 25th year, the Delhi-based agency, which claims to be India's largest independent one — promoted by Kunal Lalani — is undergoing major restructuring.

From jade to amber to ultraviolet to melon (yes, it claims it is a colour), you will see Crayons wearing a lot of new shades as it opens four new divisions with these colourful names. “Just as you wear new clothes for an important function, you need to do something to mark a milestone,” says Lalani.

Actually, new business imperatives have forced the full-service agency to split into five verticals. Melon will go after the media business, Amber the out-of-home business, Jade events, and Ultraviolet will handle digital. Crayons will, from now on, only do creatives.

“The fact is that the industry has shifted to this format. All the competition is doing it,” says Lalani.

Till now, he points out that Crayons' predominantly PSU clientele were happy to get the full service – from creatives to media to digital – from one agency. But now, even the PSUs are moving into the private sector format of giving out their advertising businesses to different agencies piecemeal.

“Once the writing is on the wall you have to do it,” says Lalani.

The new structure

Each of the verticals has been carved into separate strategic business units (SBUs). While the heads for Melon Media and Amber have been appointed, Gopinath Menon and Gurjeet Singh – a senior media operations professional who has spent significant time with Grey Worldwide – respectively, Lalani says others are in the process of being appointed.

Given the current competitive environment where advertisers are slashing budgets, hasn't this restructuring been left a bit late? Isnt't the ad industry facing a tough climate now?

Just because the big FMCG companies – an HUL and a P&G – cut their ad spends, it does not mean that business is drying up, says Lalani. “We don't see any of our clients, especially the home-grown companies, cutting down,” he says.

For the record, Crayons, which logged in billings of over Rs 250 crore for year 2009-10, has clients such as Fortis group, for which it does both media and creative, Kohinoor Basmati rice, Air India, Tourism Kerala, Incredible India and Rajasthan Tourism.

Within all the divisions, which is the one Lalani is most excited about?

“My gut feel is that Ultraviolet – the digital one – is going to be the most exciting. Digital is an evolving path, he says. “By digital, I also mean mobile, new technology, convergence, all that is going to lead to some fantastic opportunities.”

Putting life into the media plan

Media strategist Gopi Menon, the co-founder and CEO of Melon Media, who in the past has been senior vice-president at TBWA Anthem, says that in today's fragmented space “media plans need to have a life”.

Given a milieu where digital and DTH are two big disruptive forces, one needs to understand consumers and consumer touchpoints thoroughly. As Menon explains, a Tata Sky plus subscriber can today fast forward the ads and watch just the programme. Or defer telecast and watch it later. In such a situation what does the media planner who has planted some premium ads on that space do?

“The whole game has become challenging,” he says, “more so as figures for many of these new media — DTH and digital — are hard to come by.”

“The trouble with media planning today is too much reliance on artificial intelligence,” he adds.

The other problem with media planning today, he says, is that it is often not in sync with the market plan of the advertisement. “For instance, the creative objective may be to build status for a brand, but the advertisement is being shown in city cables.”

The USP has to be amalgamation between message and media – right now that is not there, says Menon.

Scaling up plans

Crayons, Lalani says, wants to be counted among the top ten ad agencies within the next three years. What about tie-ups with international agencies? Any plans?

“We have been in talks for quite a while now. As long as you are growing on your own, you don't see the need,” he says.

But he promises that on the branding side, there is going to be a tie-up with an internationally acknowledged branding communication agency very soon. “The due diligence process is on right now,” he says.

“If you go to Europe and America, their fragmentation of communication has moved in different lines from us. There branding is a very important division. Here, we don't invest so much in branding,” he says.

However, now, we feel that in India branding is coming of age, he says.