Looking back on 2007

Looking back on 2007
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First Published: Wed, Dec 26 2007. 01 15 AM IST

Vikram Sakhuja
Vikram Sakhuja
Updated: Tue, Jan 01 2008. 04 02 PM IST
Vikram Sakhuja
COO South Asia, Group M
Vikram Sakhuja
Highlights:
1. T20 heralded a new media format that grabbed attention in a discontinuous manner.
2. Lingering issues between broadcasters and agencies/advertisers were precipitated. This should hopefully make way for greater accountability in 2008.
3. Very high audience fragmentation led to inflation in Hindi GECs (general entertainment channels) with an interesting denouement to the year with the launch of two more high-profile GECs.
4.Large number of magazine launches with advertising support, despite IRS/NRS reporting sharp drops in readership.
5.Birth of retail as media with the introduction of in-store TVs.
6.Growing acceptance of digital in plans: game increasing from display banners to search, social marketing optimization and mobile.
7.Growing acceptance of integrating brand with content, be it the case of movies, serials, events or user-generated content that goes beyond sponsorship. Brands are looking to create their own content properties.
Issues and challenges:
1. Remuneration remains an issue. Clients love strategic input and innovative communication solutions, but are unwilling to pay for the value. The 3% media game is impeding our ability to remunerate our talent competitively or invest in system and tool improvements, and clients need to understand that.
2. Lack of accountability and opaqueness in pricing from media owners is a cause for concern. Media needs to command its value on the basis of the quality and quantity of audiences it garners. It is possible for media to value itself as premium real estate, but that happens when it integrates content with brand. Unfortunately, rates are seldom backed up with a rationale. And that is also a reason why in an environment of more channels and inventory coming in, rates become soft.
Madhukar Kamath
Managing director and CEO, Mudra Group
Madhukar Kamath
Highlights:
1. Ad holding companies flexed their muscles. Omnicom Group announced the launch of media specialist Optimum Media Direction and BBDO International. We announced the launch of DDB Mudra. WPP Group had various acquisitions in marketing services: Sercon India Pvt. Ltd and Quasar Media Pvt. Ltd, etc. Publicis Groupe acquired Capital Advertising Pvt. Ltd and then Solutions Integrated Marketing Services Pvt. Ltd. WPP Group integrated Bates Enterprise Pvt. Ltd with David Ltd.
2.A phase of newer national creative directors assuming charge. Bobby Pawar, national creative director (NCD), Mudra Group; Sagar Mahabal-eshwarkar and Ramanuj Shastry, chief creative officers, Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd; Ashish Khazanchi and Prasanna Sankhe, NCDs at Ambience Publicis Advertising Pvt. Ltd.
3.The coming of age of marketing services. Agencies have recognized their importance and are building their arsenal.
Issues:
1.Never has the need for solutions to be media plural been this pronounced. Ideas need to be media-rich, and agencies are coming to terms with this fact. Some succeeded in the past year, and some didn’t quite succeed.
2. Talent has been an issue, as has compensation. Agencies need to move up the value chain. Agencies are still providing valuable strategic inputs for free when it comes to new business pitches.
3.Associating with cricket was a double-edged sword. Poor performance threw media plans in a tizzy in the first half of the year, while the latter half had an expected win in the form of Twenty20 and the sheer escalation of rates.
Ranjan Kapur
Country head, WPP Group
Ranjan Kapur
Highlights:
1. The quality of work from industry agencies has gone up substantially. While earlier I got the impression that Ogilvy and Mather stood out in terms of the ads they created, this is one year I felt that a good number of other agencies have come up with some excellent and real (genuine) work as opposed to scam.
Issues:
1. One big challenge for agencies is how to reorient themselves from traditional media to digital and activation.
These are two areas where traditional agencies have not made much of a mark. Hundreds of small digital shops have come up, which now account for the bulk of the growth of the digital business—estimated at $50 million (about Rs200 crore).
2. There is a severe talent crunch in the industry and all agencies are hurting. Attrition rates have climbed to 40% in the ad business, and this will continue through 2008-09.
Most of the talent in advertising is being drawn to media industries, entertainment and financial services. Our entry-level salaries are abysmal and cannot compare with other industries that are taking our people away.
Arvind Sharma
Chairman of India Subcontinent, Leo Burnett India
Arvind Sharma
Highlights:
1.India’s failure to get into the super eight in the ICC World Cup 2007 caused a huge loss for brands and brand ambassadors. It took the T20 cricket victory to reinstate the cricketing gods in many media plans.
2. The stand-off between advertisers and broadcasters over the proposed surcharge on ads. Indian media’s version of the Kurukshetra war saw some of the country’s biggest advertisers threatening to go off air.
3. The “Vote for Taj” initiative that got the Taj Mahal in the seven wonders of the world list provided resounding proof of India’s growing citizen journalism, as well as the growing power of alternative media.
Issues:
1. Talent crunch: Huge investments pouring into India have made the industry the hunting ground for branding and marketing talent. It is likely to continue in 2008.
Ravi Kiran
CEO-South Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group
Ravi Kiran
Highlights:
1.Accelerated investment in non-measured media (between 25% and 35% year on year growth).
2. Galloping investments in digital marketing, although on a small base.
3. Entry of a new medium, namely digital signage.
4. Radio becomes mainstream, nearly.
5. Emergence of a clear No. 2 in Hindi entertainment (the gap between Star Plus and Zee is narrower than ever).
6. Continuation of consolidation of ad accounts with top media companies.
7. TV stations’ efforts to effect dramatic hike in prices.
Issues:
1.Managing growth: fear of drop in product quality, generally associated with boom time.
2.Short-term success works as adrenalin; most businesses do not undertake long-term planning.
3.Sports, outside of cricket, remains underleveraged.
Shashi Sinha
CEO, Lodestar Universal
Shashi Sinha
Highlights:
1. The growth momentum continues, and advertising reflects the economy.
2. IPG Group acquired 100% control in Draft FCB and Lowe Lintas India. It already owned McCann Erickson. In the future, IPG will perhaps be the only credible challenge to WPP’s dominance in India.
Issues:
1. The tremendous fragmentation in media options not only led to complexity in decision-making but has made India an underleveraged market which will hurt us all in the long run.
2. As advertising volumes grow and talent becomes scarce, quality is bound to suffer. It is not about that one great campaign, but about work done day in and day out.
I am not sure we produced that one great campaign in 2007 to make ourselves proud from a global standpoint. But Indian advertising CEOs will be the darling of their international networks for delivering their P&L (profit and loss).
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First Published: Wed, Dec 26 2007. 01 15 AM IST