Cavelossim Beach, Goa: The imminent entry of the UK-based Naked Communications Ltd into the Indian market is creating a stir in advertising circles, as major networks go into a huddle to protect their interests.
The independent agency with several blue-chip clients is waiting to find the right talent before it jumps into a market it sees as bursting with potential, says the group’s founding partner Jon Wilkins.
Sipping a cold beer at the Leela Hotel here, the nattily dressed Wilkins says Naked will be ready to launch operations as soon as it picks a team for India. The agency will begin as a start-up and whoever is picked to come on board will own a stake in the company, he says.
“We will offer shares in the business. We want our people to be entrepreneurs… We want them to take ownership of the company.”
Wilkins is all admiration for family-run businesses in India and finds similarities in values and bonds in what he calls the ‘naked family’ that comprise 40 global directors and partners across 17 offices in different nations.
“In India, we will create shareholders in the business, who will be part of the Naked family. We already have Indian members in the family. We just want three more.” No wonder then that the agency is taking its time to find the right partners.
However, while the ‘Naked’ model is good, the approach is good and it has systems, tools and international clients in place, there are challenges the agency will have to deal with as they are not a network.
“When you’re starting a business with a pencil, a rubber and some paper, it takes a strong man or woman to take that opportunity,” Wilkins says, maintaining that it’s not easy to change mindsets of people who work in big networks, earn good money and have a comfortable lifestyle and environment.
During his talent spotting trips to India, Wilkins has also been reviewing the company’s business interests, and is not taking its global clients for granted.
“We could definitely have a meeting with them. But they won’t definitely give us business in India just because they work with us in other markets. Which is why talent is so important,” he says.
Naked is particularly interested in Indian brands that are fascinated by the international dimension, which Wilkins says is extremely crucial, as with the growth of disposable incomes, the aspiration for brands grow.
“Our client base in India I think will be some international brands, and only if we are good, hopefully some Indian clients that are developing an international conscience.”
Another segment that interests Naked is family-run businesses. “We met three family-run business heads and it went well every time. I think if you are a family-run business, every penny you spend is yours and in that sense, you are more careful.”
While Wilkins isn’t sure how big the market will be, he is optimistic about winninglocal business in India bytalking to the people who own them.
“If we talk to the marketing manager of an Indian business, (we find) they are comfortable in their environment and their suppliers. The only way we are going to win local business in India is to go quite senior,” he says.
The real challenge, however, will be to find the right people for the job.