Q&A: Dheeraj Sinha on Leading FCB Group India into the Next Era

A conversation with the recently appointed Group CEO of India & South Asia.

Dheeraj Sinha

In September of last year, FCB Group India announced the appointment of Dheeraj Sinha as Group CEO of India & South Asia, filling the spot previously held by Rohit Ohri who ascended to a new role as FCB Global Partner.

Dheeraj joined FCB from Publicis Groupe, where he served as CEO of Leo Burnett South Asia and Chairman of BBH India, after joining Leo Burnett in 2016 as Chief Strategy Officer for South Asia.

We recently spoke with Dheeraj about stepping into the new role which kicked off in November. During our conversation, he talks about leading FCB Group India into the ‘next phase of narrative”, nurturing creativity, how the Group is leveraging AI, how it is promoting diversity and inclusion within its workforce and its creative output, and more.


 

When joining FCB Group India you expressed excitement “to be leading the next phase of narrative.” Can you talk more about that, along with the challenges, and how you’re implementing your vision?

In this exciting time for the industry, I see immense potential in integrating cutting-edge tools and strategies, particularly leveraging data, technology, and strategic planning to build product-centric approaches. FCB’s robust foundation, stellar client roster, and longstanding brand partnerships provide a solid base for our ambitions.

Adding Kinect as a digital-first creative agency in our ecosystem opens up new digital avenues. My vision is to harness FCB’s scale and product strengths, aiming to position us as the best creative company globally. Challenges may include navigating the dynamic digital landscape and ensuring seamless integration.

“The goal is to lead FCB Group India into an era where we redefine our narrative, embracing a culture of creativity and innovation and becoming the country’s largest creative company.”

The goal is to lead FCB Group India into an era where we redefine our narrative, embracing a culture of creativity and innovation and becoming the country’s largest creative company.


 

FCB has strong creative credentials as does your previous agency, Leo Burnett. As CEO, what is your leadership strategy for nurturing successful creative teams and how do you foster collaboration and encourage risk-taking?

At FCB, my focus will be on creating a culture that empowers teams, fosters creativity, encourages preparation for the future, and invests in ongoing learning. By embracing these principles, we can position FCB Group India as India’s largest creative company.

Can you share some examples of how FCB India is leveraging AI in its client work and how do you view AI’s long-term effects on your organization and the industry internally and in client work?

AI is a transformative force that enhances internal efficiency and elevates client work. We view its long-term effects positively, anticipating improved processes and personalized campaigns. Internally, we are committed to staying technologically adept, balancing AI benefits with a human touch in creativity.

We foresee collaboration opportunities and adaptability in the industry as AI reshapes the landscape. Our strategic approach ensures that AI aligns with our values and contributes to overall success. In client work, we see AI as a catalyst for delivering more impactful and targeted campaigns, leveraging data insights to drive engagement and results.

Our recent work for DBS Bank India, titled “Sounds of Budget,” conceptualized by FCB Interface, aims to demystify India’s Union Budget 2024 through the power of music created using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

How is FCB India promoting diversity and inclusion within its workforce and its creative output?

At FCB Group India, we are deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within our workforce and ensuring our creative output reflects a rich tapestry of perspectives. Our active participation in the first-ever UN India Chapter’s campaign, ‘You Don’t See Me,’ underscores our dedication to challenging gender stereotypes in Indian advertising.

“Diverse teams bring various experiences and ideas, leading to more innovative and impactful solutions.”

Internally, we foster an inclusive environment by prioritizing diversity in our workforce. Diverse teams bring various experiences and ideas, leading to more innovative and impactful solutions. Our commitment to diversity is mirrored in our creative work, where we strive to break barriers and challenge societal norms.

Several of our campaigns from 2023 exemplify this commitment:

Amul India’s Celebration of Women Farmers: Moochon Main Taav.

Our film for Amul India celebrates the strength of 3.6 million women farmers, highlighting their crucial role in the dairy cooperative and emphasizing economic empowerment.

‘Untangling Politics of Hair’ – STIR Magazine

This campaign delves into the nuanced relationship between women and their hair, challenging societal expectations and promoting a more inclusive narrative.

#MissRepresent Campaign with TVS Motor:

Launched in partnership with TVS Motor, this campaign aims to break stereotypes and redefine how women are represented, encouraging a more diverse and authentic portrayal.

What is some campaign work you’ve been a part of over the years that you’re most proud of?

Airtel – 175 Replayed

Spotify #SpotifyOnTohMazzaOn

Phone Pe #KarteJaBadhteJa

Whisper | The Missing Chapter

As we’re just getting our stride into 2024, what trends do you see in the leadership landscape?

Embracing Change: Courage and Unwavering Resilience.

Courage and resilience are not just virtues; they are the driving forces behind our ability to embrace change, leverage Data and AI, and lead our agency into the future.

By fostering these qualities, we not only navigate the challenges posed by technological shifts but also pave the way for sustained success and innovation in the competitive advertising world.


Quick Hits

  • Book everyone in the industry should read: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
  • Favorite show you’ve been watching lately: Ted Lasso
  • One album you would take to a deserted island: Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder
  • Something you want to learn or wish you were better at: I want to learn how to play the guitar.

Picture of Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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