Integration, acquisitions & commerce: Shamsuddin Jasani on plans to double Wunderman Thompson’s revenue

Shamsuddin Jasani Wunderman Thompson

Wunderman Thompson SA’s CEO Shamsuddin Jasani says he entered the network with a lot of humility, which has a history of over nine decades. Jasani shares key focus areas for 2023, which would revolve around integration, acquisitions & commerce.

It has been a year since Shamsuddin Jasani, the former CEO of Dentsu’s Isobar joined creative advertising agency Wunderman Thompson as its Chief Executive Officer of the South Asian market. At his new job, he has been focusing on further building Wunderman Thompson’s creative legacy and strengthening its data, commerce and technology capabilities. 

In a year, under the helm of Shamsuddin, Wunderman Thompson has added clients like Skoda, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Edelweiss, Barbeque Nation, Cavin Kare, Kyndryl, Mahindra One, to mention a few. From a revenue standpoint, the network is now back to pre-pandemic levels. With more than 27 new clients in its kitty, Jasani is optimistic that the agency will hit its target of growing twice its size in three years.   

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Looking back at 2022, Jasani said, “We are back to pre-pandemic levels. We’ve grown really well, both in terms of our top line, as well as bottom line, since we’ve met all projections that we had done for this year. We were very happy with where we are and 2023 looks even brighter.”

Growing strength-by-strength, twice the size

To grow by twice its size in a span of three years, Jasani said that the network will focus on mergers, acquisitions and e-commerce. 

“Acquisition is clearly a strategy in 2023. As far as the growth of our business goes, a lot of focus is on really doing some amazing creative work. More importantly, it’s going to come from commerce, health and martech. The rate of growth will be much higher, because the basis slightly smaller. The other part, as the comms agency, the integrated approach that we are bringing to the clients, is also helping us with all the users,” said Jasani.

Wunderman Thompson network is eyeing acquisitions in the data and tech space to double its revenue collections in the coming years. 

Sharing what Jasani is looking to acquire in its agencies, he said, “Most of the capabilities that we will be focusing on are on the tech, experience, design, data and those kinds of capabilities. If there is a scale agency, which is looking at web 3.0 and technologies there, I think that’s another one that we will look at.”

Integrating strengths 

In the last two years, many agency networks have combined their strengths to better their capabilities and to cater to clients’ evolving needs. 

Wunderman Thompson network, which is currently divided into Mirum, Contract and Wunderman Thomspon Commerce, has been focusing on combining its strengths too. 

“Clients are expecting us to be much more integrated. The client wants to speak to one agency, the clients do not want to have five agencies on their roster doing one doing digital, one doing mainline, etc. Clients are also asking how are we creatively using technology, especially in a web 3.0 world — when you have blockchain technology coming up and 5G coming up.” said Jasani. 

The future of agency model, therefore, Jasani believes, will be a lot more integrated.  

These changes in the agency world have come about not only because clients’ expectations have evolved but also because consumers have changed. 

“Consumers are fragmented, but more importantly, they also want to be a part of the brand’s journey, unlike earlier, where they were only a passive acceptor of communication. Today, they want to create brands, they want to be as involved in your business and brands, as they are in their daily lives. We stand at a stage where we have such a big advantage of consumer understanding. It’s something that we want to take and really evolve it to a more solution and a consultative approach,” said Jasani. 

Equality, empathy and technology: Future of WT and ad industry

The WT network is home to more than 1,500 people across Wunderman Thompson, Mirum, Contract and Wunderman Thompson Commerce in India. More than 37% of this group is women and Shams is confident that it will touch 45% soon. 

Today’s leaders, who have survived the pandemic with their employees, need to remember the values that the deadly virus left with us. 

Reflecting on the pandemic and sharing what leaders need to remember, Jasani said, “Once you’re a leader, you need empathy, lots and lots of empathy. The second thing that I believe in is how do I make myself redundant in the next couple of years, because the team should be built in a way that it can exist without me. But one word that I would say that any leader of today and tomorrow and work on is empathy.”

Apart from building its team and their strengths, Jasani is looking forward to seeing ONDC and 5G technology shape up in 2023. He believes that these two industries together will largely set tone for the advertising industry next year.