New Delhi: Gustavo Martinez is the first Hispanic chief executive officer (CEO) of global advertising agency J Walter Thompson Co. (JWT). He joined JWT in 2014 as global president and was named CEO on 1 January 2015, succeeding Bob Jeffrey. Martinez was in India to announce the appointment of Tarun Rai as the new JWT CEO for India. He spoke about emerging markets and the imminent global launch of a new mobile and online video unit across 16 countries including India this year. Edited excerpts:
In your new role as CEO of JWT Worldwide, what key areas will you focus on?
I was appointed 15 days ago as the CEO of J Walter Thomson Co. Sorry, I am using this name because we are getting back to the whole name and using the word “Company" because under each company there are going to be different services and different companies. That’s one of my first focuses as CEO, to try to increase the level of services and offerings that we are going to bring to the market.
Besides the agency, we are going to offer a digital unit. We are hardcore in digital, in CRM (customer relationship management), in mobile, in technology. Also, we are going to offer a different unit more specific to content and social content. So my first focus is to increase our portfolio, offer better opportunities and services to our clients.
My second focus is clearly people, to attract the best talent for the organization.
My third priority is my creative agenda. We really want to push as much as we can and recover the kind of shine our creative work...used to have. These three priorities are driving me to the final result of the company—topline growth.
Why are you bullish about India even though the ad market here is growing slower than expected?
Three things. First of all, I am very pleased with the Indian government; I think the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) definitely has a plan for India. I need to understand whether the implementation of this plan is going to happen and how successful it’s going to be. But clearly, I think I am not the only one being bullish on India. There are so many investors, businesspeople and clients that are seeing India taking off.
Second, we are positioned as a leader. We have been in this market for over 80 years and are lucky to be working with almost the most important clients in India—international or Indian. The fact that we are going to offer different services and that we have these clients in our portfolio is going to help us grow organically. So that’s part of half of my growth expectation.
Also, as we offer more services, we make more acquisitions. We are looking for new speciality in the market and new people are going to bring different units in order to deliver this growth. Acquisitions will be in areas of digital, content and shopper. By shopper I mean retail, online retail, e-commerce and mobile e-commerce.
And the fact that the economic and macroeconomic environment looks positive, these macro shooters lead to the micro, and if that’s going to be the case, we’ll have a better 2015.
Do you have any targets in terms of revenue and profitability from India and globally?
I would like to set India with 5-8% growth (target). I’m not so worried about profit; I’m much more worried about topline growth. If we have topline growth, then you can acquire other companies, you can attract and retain talent. And definitely, the profit is going to come.
Globally, we expect growth to be a little bit less. India for me is in the tier of the markets that need to push the envelope like in the case of Mexico and Turkey. Worldwide, we expect growth between 4-5%.
In the past decade, JWT expanded into emerging markets through acquisitions—60% of the 19 ad and marketing firms acquired during this period were in emerging markets. How successful have these acquisitions been?
If we consider India as being one of the most successful markets for JWT, I think the rest of the emerging markets we have a Pareto low. I would say 80% of those acquisitions were very successful, 20% we tried to make some fine-tunings. But also because of my DNA—I came from an emerging market—and my background as a manager, I really trust and I get a heartfelt kind of feeling for emerging markets. I will be very involved, very engaged and try to support the emerging markets lever by lever.
You have appointed Claire Capeci as global president, retail. Is e-commerce and retail brands a key focus area in terms of clients you wish to work with?
It goes a little bit beyond that. We have defined an agenda of growth called 2020 for where we expect the companies to reach by 2020. We are going into this with a start-up mentality. We want to be a $2 billion start-up mentality company. We are defining the different sectors where we are really going to capture this growth. Retail, and let me use retail with a capital R, can be from a big department store to a fast-food chain. I want people to specialize in this. Claire Capeci is going to help me develop this discipline and this sector. It’s a vertical sector, as well as we have the luxury sector, the healthcare sector. My five key sectors that I really want to put focus on are retail, luxury, health, travel and finance. I want to increase my share of wallet on these clients. These are the verticals that are going to bring growth that we have expected from this agenda.
Within digital, the online video market is set to grow the fastest. How do you plan on capitalizing on that?
Almost more than 40% of my revenue worldwide is non-traditional. As you can imagine, viral video, online video, YouTube—we are already producing more than 40% of our work in this kind of area and it is going to grow more and more. We are going to launch a new unit very soon in this area that is going to provide more content and more video content. It’s going to be a global launch across 16 countries and will have a mobile and online video unit. This is one of our key strategic areas for growth.
In India, e-commerce companies are driving advertising expenditure. Are you planning to work closely with the e-commerce companies here?
Absolutely. I also think retail in India should have a fantastic evolution. You are still very traditional from a retail point of view, and don’t take this as criticism, it is a reality. At some point, I think it’s going to explode, and we want to be ready for that.
Does this extend globally?
Definitely. I’m seeing mobile as the new kind of wallet to buy, to watch, to control to decide; clearly all of it is based on e-commerce.
What should one look out for in mobile advertising this year?
I think we need to be prepared to serve the client. How are we going to technologically help the clients, and also how are we going to translate the storytelling of the brand to this kind of a device. Mobile companies are one of our targets for acquisitions.
You are fluent in five languages. Which language do you think in?
Catalan. When I speak business, I speak English; when I speak with my kids, I speak in Spanish. When I love my wife, I speak Italian; when I try to be more glamorous and international, I speak in French. Also, Portuguese for when I’m in Brazil; I love Brazil because I spend so much time in Latin America.
Which is your favourite J Walter Thompson ad campaign?
Nike last year—“Make every hour count".
What do you do in your free time?
Spend time with my family, especially my kids. I have four kids, three boys and one girl, all different ages. We do basic things like homework together, talking...sometimes we play together.