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Pankaj Acharya, Founder & Managing Director, Purple Focus, talks to Arpita Sarkar of 4ps B&M about how the agency has grown over the years
 
How did you get into advertising? Were you always keen on entering this business?

When I was pursuing my MBA in Indore, I was clear that I would start my own business. I took my Management degree in 1995 and had offers from companies like HCL, Wipro and General Motors. But I did not take them up as I wanted to do something in brand management. I joined a company in Mumbai and worked there for around 6-7 months. But eventually, I went back to Indore and started my own firm. It was called Focus Integrated Marketing Services Pvt Ltd, which was purely into marketing and was not an ad agency. Running an ad agency happened a few months later when my company landed the Bridgestone account. As the core skills were the same it was a natural shift and we became a full fledged ad agency. Then Eicher Motors happened in 1997 and we applied for INS accreditation. We got to know that the “Focus” name was already taken so I randomly picked up the colour of the wall, which was purple. This way Purple Focus came to be the name of our newly accredited ad company. By this time my friend and batch mate during the MBA days, Rahul (Rahul Vaidya, Co-founder & Director) had joined hands and our ad agency took off.

What was it like coming out of your comfort zone in Indore to start your agency’s operation first in Delhi and then in Mumbai?
Well, to be candid, I never thought of moving out of Indore as we were doing pretty well there. But then a mareket like Indore had its limitations. Delhi was a booming market by then in the area of advertising and Gurgaon was taking shape. So we thought of exploring the Delhi market. To our initial success, Tata Indicom came as a major account and then came Sprandi Shoes. This way, slowly and steadily, we grew in Delhi. Mumbai happened with STAR Plus, and we opened the Mumbai office around six years ago.

Looking back, what have been the defining turns and tides in the company’s journey so far?
When Purple Focus started working full-fledgedly in 1997, we were lucky to have got off to a good start with the Bridgestone and Eicher Motors accounts. The association with the latter is still going rocksteady. I recall our presentation to Eicher Motors, which was much liked by the client. We started working on smaller projects for Eicher and eventually became their primary agency. STAR Plus was definitely a big breakthrough for Purple Focus. We were signed along with Ogilvy & Mather to handle the channel’s fiction shows. We were associated with STAR when it was ruling the GEC segment. We worked closely on serials like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Bidai and Ye Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. We handled the Star account for about four years till 2009. Losing STAR did affect the balance sheet but not the morale.


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