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Kartik Sharma, chief executive – South Asia, Wavemaker
Kartik Sharma, chief executive – South Asia, Wavemaker

Young consumers are constantly demanding novelty from brands

Wavemaker handles blue chip companies such as ITC, Vodafone, Shoppers Stop, Tata Motors, Myntra and Hero MotoCorp among others

GroupM-owned media agency Wavemaker has turned one in India. Created from the merger of Maxus and MEC media agencies last year, Wavemaker a media, content and technology firm claims to have won business worth 1, 000 crore this year. The agency handles blue chip companies such as fast-moving consumer goods firm ITC Ltd, telecom firm Vodafone, retail chain Shoppers Stop, auto giant Tata Motors, e-commerce platform Myntra and Hero MotoCorp Ltd among others. In an interview, Kartik Sharma, chief executive – South Asia, Wavemaker, talks about 2018 being their best year so far, focus on content and the challenges that media agencies face today. Edited excerpts.

How has been the year in terms of client wins and new business?

We have added close to 1,000 crore worth of business so far, the largest win being the Mondelez account which we won globally and locally. We also won Eureka Forbes, Bisleri, direct selling firm Amway and Mother Dairy. Apart from this, the agency has also retained couple of big clients such as confectionery conglomerate Perfetti Van Melle, insurance comparison website Policybazaar and direct-to-home (DTH) service provider Tata Sky.

Any new category of brands that you have started working on?

We have started working with Dreams11 which is a fantasy gaming firm. It’s an emerging but a high growth category. Dreams11 was launched during the Indian Premier League (IPL) and they have been doing well. We have recently won another business in the health category which we will announce soon. I believe that these firms are set to become big players probably redefining the category in the future.

What are you doing in content?

I believe everything can be made into content. A good content piece could be a static image on Instagram or five to ten-minute video on Facebook or YouTube. Content can also be a good website created for a brand. In India, the content partnerships have been for relatively smaller period (one year) or are often campaign led. We have signed a four-year long partnership with e-commerce website Myntra and entertainment channel Zoom where viewers will get a chance to buy clothes that celebrities are seen wearing in Zoom’s shows on Myntra. Apart from this we do video led content for clients.

A lot is being said about ad fatigue especially among young consumers, what kind of ad formats they are consuming especially on digital?

Video, as a format, continues to dominate the consumption pattern of millennials. The larger question to ask is why people experience fatigue because the time spent on a digital screen has increased significantly. Therefore, a brand must find interesting ways to narrate a story. Young consumers, especially under 25 years of age, are constantly demanding novelty from brands so any kind of repetition will be ignored by them. Advertising must be informative as well as entertaining to be impactful. Vodafone does powerful storytelling and all its ads brings smile to your face while integrating product. Netflix marketing promotions are also intriguing enough to draw viewers to watch their show.

2019 is the crucial year for media agencies with elections dominating advertising spends. What kind of media platforms will be leveraged by the political parties?

I think political parties might leverage chat platform WhatsApp in the upcoming elections because of its large userbase and penetration across the country. Apart from that, digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook will also play a crucial role.

I believe in General Elections radio will be an impactful medium as it reaches tier II and III towns as well as media dark rural areas. The use of multimedia will happen including outdoor and cinema, but it is difficult to pin point the proportion of different mediums because it would depend on whether a political party or a state is promoting. A national campaign would see mass media promotion such as television and print while a state level campaign can heavily rely on outdoor and radio.

What are the key challenges that media agencies face?

There has been a squeeze on expected compensation from clients’ side. Rise of self-served platforms such as Facebook and Google has led to this school of thought that media agencies are not required any more. It could be an opportunity for agencies to prove their worth or can also be a threat for those who are not ready to take this challenge. Today our competition is not another media agency alone but other software companies, media platform owners even clients who are investing in these platforms.

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