Asia creative star Sonal Dabral joins BatesAsia

25 July, 2007


Top Asia Creative star, Sonal Dabral, will join BatesAsia 141 (“BatesAsia”) in a dual capacity as Regional Executive Creative Director – Asia Pacific and Chairman – India, starting in October.

“Sonal’s appointment signals BatesAsia’s commitment to elevate the creative prowess of our network and to produce the best, change-building work for our clients,” said Jeffrey Yu, President, BatesAsia.

“As the only Asia-focused network of size, it is apt that a top Asian creative is at the helm. Sonal is the number one man for this job with his solid track record and creative leadership in key Asian markets like India, Malaysia and Singapore,” added Digby Richards, Chief Operating Officer.

Sonal will partner with Jeffrey and Digby. His time will be split between the region and India. As regional ECD, Sonal will oversee BatesAsia’s creative teams as well as engage actively in key accounts. He will work closely with Norman Tan, Regional ECD for China and Taiwan, based out of Shanghai, and Robert Gaxiola, ECD, Singapore. Together they will ensure optimal coverage of the network out of key hubs – India, North Asia and Southeast Asia. For the first few months, Sonal will be based out of Singapore. Thereafter he will make his transition to India (we will further advise details in due course).

The other half of his time will be spent in India where he will work closely with India Chief Executive Officer Subhash Kamath. Sonal replaces current Chairman Mohammad Khan who is retiring.

Says Subhash Kamath, “this was very much part of our plans. In India, over the past 18 months, we’ve grown enormously through M&A. We are now a strong top ten agency with more than 450 people across all centers. The next big step was to focus on the product. With Mohammed planning to retire by the end of the year, we were looking for the right person to take over. And frankly, it cannot get any better or bigger than this! Sonal, in my opinion, is one of the hottest creative people in the region, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with him!”

Said Sonal, “I am excited about working for such an ambitious network as BatesAsia and look forward to taking up the challenges of a pan-Asia role.”

As one of Asia’s most illustrious talents, Sonal needs little introduction to the industry. A multi award winner, Sonal is recognized by the best, in Asia and globally. In his 20 year career, Sonal has won awards from all the most prolific international and regional shows, including Cannes, Clio, D&AD, One Show, AdFest and Spikes.

Most recently at Cannes, as Chairman and ECD, he led Ogilvy & Mather (Advertising) Singapore (“Ogilvy”) to be the third highest awarded agency in the world, competing against a record 25,700 entries from more than 80 countries. Ogilvy Singapore emerged second runner up as global “Agency of the Year”, a first for an Asian agency! Ogilvy Singapore has also been named the number one creative agency for five consecutive years (according to Campaign Brief Asia).

Prior to joining BatesAsia, Sonal worked with Ogilvy for sixteen years. Starting with Ogilvy India in Mumbai, where he worked with then CD, Piyush Pandey. Together they drove Ogilvy India from the creative wilderness to become the number one creative agency in the country. Not only did they garner top awards from national shows but also scored big in the regional and international arenas including Clio and Cannes, among many others. These achievements prompted the Times of India, India’s premier newspaper, to hail him as one of the “young Indians who will lead India into the next century” in 1999.

The next step was Malaysia, where Sonal was offered the post of ECD at Ogilvy Malaysia in 1999. Within three years, Ogilvy Malaysia became one of the top creative offices in the region, winning awards from Cannes, Clio, D&AD and AdFest. In 2000, a film he wrote won the Grand Prix at the Asian Media awards. Soon after, he won Malaysia’s first ever One Show Gold.

In May 2004, Sonal took over as Chairman and ECD of Ogilvy Singapore. He made full use of his vast experience to not only improve the quality of work on existing brands but help the agency win new business and grow its reputation as one of the hottest creative agencies in the region.

Said Tham Khai Meng, Co-chairman Ogilvy Asia Pacific, “in his three-year tenure, Sonal has lifted our Singapore office to new heights. Among Ogilvy Singapore's many accolades, they came in second runner-up in the global “Agency of the Year” awards at Cannes this year – a remarkable FIRST for an Asia Pacific agency. Sonal will now step up to a larger role, taking with him that same fire brand of world-class talent and rare people skills. I have every confidence Sonal will bring to BatesAsia that same creative brilliance and leadership he brought to Ogilvy Singapore. It's a very exciting time for BatesAsia!”

Sonal spent his early years in advertising at Lintas, Delhi, before moving to Ogilvy five years later. In India Sonal worked on a range of major brands including Cadburys, Asian Paints, TVS Suzuki, Hindustan Lever, Tata Steel and Tata Motors to name a few.

Sonal grew up in a series of small towns across North India, eventually reaching Agra where he spent most of his schooling years. He studied Visual Communication – Graphic Design Film and Photography, at the famed National Institute of Design, during which he won the coveted Government of India’s National Scholarship for studies in Art and Culture.

Currently, Sonal desperately tries to find the time to write his first feature film, which he plans to direct in the next couple of years. In the past, Sonal also managed to squeeze in stints as a popular TV host and channel his passion for film into directing ad films for brands such as Pond’s, Pizza Hut, Dove and Cadbury’s. D&AD 2004 featured a spot he wrote and directed for the MC2 Awards giving him hope that there is life after advertising.


About BatesAsia 141

BatesAsia 141 (“BatesAsia”) is the world’s largest and most focused Asian marketing communications network. BatesAsia is part of WPP, the world’s leading communications services group.

BatesAsia focuses exclusively on the growing demands of Asian business: namely, building sustainable brands with global ambition and potential.

We are The Change Agency. We believe that brands with a future must embrace change. Our clients pay us to understand, leverage and create change, and our currency - ideas - must change people.

Working from the brand down and the street up – BatesAsia excels at helping clients to define their brand’s point of view and motivate new audiences with it, while 141’s genius is in making the brand and shopping experiences stickier and moving people closer to the sale

In 2006, 141 became the most awarded activation agency in Asia.

BatesAsia is located in 21 offices in 15 countries across Asia Pacific.

For more information, please contact:

Desiree Lim
Corporate Communications Manager
BatesAsia 141

DID: +852 2103 6261
Cell: +852 9770 4693
Fax: +852 2527 4086
E-mail: desiree.lim@batesasia.com

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