New York: R/GA, the agency for the digital age, has added two experienced industry veterans to its Singapore office: Sushobhan Mukherjee, planning director, and Steve Kalifowitz, group director, production. The two will be central to the office’s leadership and will support MasterCard’s global digital account. They will report to William Charnock, chief strategy officer, and John Antinori, EVP, chief production officer, respectively.
The agency is committed to building the Singapore office into a creative and technical powerhouse and will be hiring the best in class to do so. Mukherjee, an award-winning planner, and Kalifowitz, an experienced global producer from R/GA’s New York office, will join forces with other core team members to establish R/GA Singapore as the leader in digital marketing. By combining R/GA’s best practices with regional-specific insights, the Singapore office will be well positioned to deliver innovative ideas to clients and grow their businesses.
“Sushobhan is an experienced strategist with a deep understanding of consumers in Asia and the Middle East. His innovative thinking has earned him not only national and international acclaim recognized via industry awards but also the confidence of his clients in his ability to experiment with new, different, and successful approaches to brand building,” said Charnock. “This is exactly the type of strategic capability R/GA is building for our clients—not just in Singapore but all over the world. We are making the bet that strategic excellence in the digital age will involve this combination of innovation and experience epitomized by Sushobhan, one of the best practitioners in the region.”
A veteran strategist, Mukherjee understands brands from a variety of vantage points. Armed with an MBA in finance, he initially worked as an economist and researcher, and transitioned to strategic planning in the mid-1990s. His planning prowess has been recognized at the most prestigious award shows, ranging from gold at both the Jay Chiat Awards and the APPIES in Singapore. He is adept at pioneering planning functions, having established stand-alone offerings at JWT Mumbai, Publicis Singapore and India, and Mudra. He was most recently VP, strategic planning director, at JWT Mumbai, where he transitioned the agency to a more digitally focused approach to planning and helped create award-winning integrated marketing campaigns, including “Teach India,” which won the Grand Effie at the 2009 show.
As the regional strategic planning director, APAC, at Publicis Singapore, Mukherjee successfully managed the transition of the HP account from Saatchi & Saatchi to Publicis and helped acquire the Aviva account in 2007, making it the first nonaligned regional new business win (account duties expanded into Australia, Hong Kong, and India) and the agency’s only international client win that year. His financial expertise stretches across some of the largest brands in India, ranging from Aviva to Citibank, and various sectors including life insurance, mutual funds, and an array of banks.
He drove Publicis India’s entry into the social and development sector and transitioned Mudra’s planning function from new business into a self-sustaining planning department. In his previous positions, he worked with companies like Rediffusion DY&R, Discovery Communications, McCann Erickson, Trikaya Grey (now Grey Worldwide), and Mode Research (now TNS, the world’s largest market research firm).
Kalifowitz, an award-winning producer skilled at managing R/GA’s projects and interoffice relationships, will be tasked with ensuring that the agency’s world-class offerings and processes are integrated into the Singapore office. As the executive producer for R/GA’s Retail practice, he has led engagements for clients such as Nokia and Walmart, developing in-store digital solutions for the global retailer.
“Steve brings to the Singapore office an extensive knowledge of R/GA’s work and unique production model—a vital component of the agency’s legacy—and that makes him perfect for the job,” said Antinori. “By knowing how to leverage R/GA’s international resources to produce a high quality of work, he’s well equipped to help grow Singapore’s capabilities, ensure a high level of service for our clients, and facilitate collaboration between Singapore and our NY-based headquarters and other hub offices.”
Having been with the agency for close to three years, Kalifowitz has the unique ability to reach deep into R/GA’s resources and manage multiple parties, leading to outstanding results. For Nokia retail, he led the project rollout initially in China, Thailand, Indonesia, and India. He spearheaded the production and launch of “15 Seconds of Fame,” an innovative digital experience for the American Eagle Outfitters flagship store in Times Square, New York, which placed shoppers’ photographs on a 15,000-square-foot LED billboard. He also helped win the retailer’s 77kids by American Eagle account and worked with the retail group to successfully launch an interactive digital experience in the brand’s debut kids’ stores.
Prior to R/GA, Kalifowitz was in broadcasting, building a core background in storytelling by producing films and commercials for HBO and ABC Sports among others. His work as a producer for Inside the NFL and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel earned him two Emmy Awards and four nominations.