On advertising as a strategic management tool
For a consumer-centric company, good communication is one of the most critical drivers for sustaining growth, assuming other things are benchmarked.
Additionally, in most companies, advertising spends are the largest component of non-material or commodity spends and, therefore, it (advertising) certainly demands the top management’s attention, focus and accountability.
Saugata Gupta, CEO, consumer products business, Marico Ltd (Photo by: Ashesh Shah / Mint)
It is extremely important that I am involved in the key advertising initiatives. At the same time, I ensure that the ownership rests with the marketing heads. The buck stops with them. I am just a facilitator in the process. Of course, big issues need my alignment, but I completely avoid micromanaging initiatives. My job is to constantly encourage bright young talent to produce the best output.
On current trends in advertising
I can talk about one disturbing trend—the desperation to get awards, irrespective of whether the advertisement works or not.
I have a huge respect for certain creative hotshots who believe in width of genuine work. I firmly believe that one needs to be a good Test and one-day cricketer before becoming a Twenty20 player.
Another disturbing trend is that a lot of cash-rich companies in high growth sectors are mindlessly spending money in advertising. This is detrimental for the sector in the long run as the compulsion to sweat to grow great brands will diminish. However, the silver lining is that, increasingly, people are experimenting and trying out new things, which will lead to improvement in standards.
On Marico’s advertising mantra
Marico’s mantra is simple. We need to have high quality advertising that is effective and consistent. A good ad should clearly address the communication objective and solve the marketing problem. In other words, it should deliver business for the brand as well as strengthen the brand equity.
Good advertising is the result of great partnerships, and the Marico marketing team constantly benchmarks its creative product with the industry. I am proud to say that the branding output of Marico in recent times has been in the top quartile.
On diverse media platforms
I think, increasingly, a marketer needs to use multiple media to drive brand affinity and behaviour. The issue is at three levels: Brand managers and creative guys are not comfortable experimenting with new media; for the advertising agency, I think usage of non-traditional media is less remunerative as compared with traditional media and, therefore, they do not push them sufficiently; and, lastly, the sellers of new media have not sufficiently pushed for measurement metrics which, in certain cases such as digital, are available. I think India is lagging behind in the evolution of new media and needs to catch up.
My favourite ads
I am not the right person to pass judgement on others’ advertising, considering there are so many experts who are already there. So, let me give it a pass.