Cavelossim Beach, Goa: Global marketing communications holding company Interpublic Group’s (IPG) member ad networks would launch new business ventures in India and use the country as a global research centre, Stephen Gatfield, chief executive of Lowe Worldwide and executive vice-president of network operations at IPG, said during the annual ad industry event here.
Sharing plans: Stephen Gatfield, chief executive, Lowe Worldwide, and executive vice-president, network operations at IPG, at Goafest 2008.
IPG’s biggest capital investment last year was in India and this year the group was content focusing on organic growth, he said at the Goafest. IPG solidified its presence in India last year by increasing its stake to complete ownership in member networks Lintas India Pvt. Ltd and FCB Ulka Pvt. Ltd (now DraftFCB+Ulka).
In short, IPG, which claims to be the second largest player in India among global holding companies, does not have any acquisition plans in India now. Still new business ventures from Lintas India, a network company, are on the anvil.
“We will be announcing next month some new business ventures which is clearly an example of us bringing new capabilities to India. These would be in the area of technology and branding.” The new initiatives likely to be reflected at Lintas include mobile campaign management and analytics.
Gatfield said Lowe is centralizing its site development work for the Saab brand in India, even though the creative work for Saab is being done out of Scandinavia. Saab is a Swedish aerospace and defence group.
“We are going to use India (operations) as a global research centre; it’s already a hub for many of our clients. A lot of analytics work is being done out of the country. We will make India a part of our 24/7 studio capability,” he said. In addition, Lintas will pump up its retail expertise in India. R. Balakrishnan, chairman, Lowe India, had earlier told Mint that he intends to set up separate verticals (agencies) with specialized functions such as retail.
Gatfield said, “Retail branding is a very well developed discipline in other parts of the world and we handle large retail groups in other markets. The only way to see that retail accelerates here is to bring in people from other parts of the world. But whether we will brand it as separate agency; I am not so sure.”
Gatfield admitted the distribution of proceeds from the Lintas Welfare Employee Trust stake sale last year was a truly difficult time for Lintas in India. Contrary to speculation, Prem Mehta, chairman, Lintas India Pvt. Ltd, will continue till the time specified in his contract and will not be leaving the network earlier, Gatfield said. There were media reports that Mehta would leave the company over the issue.
“The simple truth is that whenever there is a financial transaction which involves individuals making money, it’s a loaded issue and emotions become highly charged,” said says Gatfield, recalling a similar situation when Saatchi and Saatchi (overseas) went public.