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India, China in focus for ad agencies

India, China in focus for ad agencies

New Delhi: With media budgets in the US and Europe getting slashed, some international advertising firms are focusing more attention on emerging markets, especially India and China, to try and reduce the impact.

The global chief executives of two such companies—Charles Courtier of Mediaedge:cia Worldwide Ltd (MEC), the global communications planning and implementation agency of WPP Group Plc. company GroupM, and Maria Luisa Francoli Plaza of MPG, the media agency of communications conglomerate Havas—were in India last week on unrelated trips to chart their business strategies for the subcontinent.

“The financial chaos is everywhere, but it affects emerging markets like India and China less than others. I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were relying on you as the future for all businesses," said Courtier.

The advertising market in India, which is the fastest growing major economy after China, is worth about Rs20,000 crore.

“We are focused on the diversification of our business and, while we are investing in our businesses around the world, Asia-Pacific is where the growth is, and India and China, in particular, are getting the lion’s share of these investments," Courtier said.

He refused to say how much the investments would be worth.

For the $19 billion (Rs89,110 crore) MEC, India currently contributes just a little more than 1%, with annual billings of $200 million.

The company is investing heavily on strengthening existing businesses here and bringing its stagnating Western businesses to India.

It has set up MEC Interaction, its digital unit, and MEC Access, the sports and entertainment division, in India in the last one year.

It is also planning to add two more divisions—MEC Retail, its retail marketing unit, and MEC ROI, which measures the response to advertisements—by the end of next year.

Courtier said sports and entertainment was a fast growing division for MEC globally. “In India, too, many of our clients are increasingly moving into sports sponsorships and branded entertainment."

MEC’s clients in India include Citibank, LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd and HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co. Ltd. It also managed the media strategy for the Deccan Chargers team in this year’s Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

Meanwhile, MPG, which has maintained a relatively quiet profile since its launch in India four years ago, is “now in a secure position to break the silence and reach out to clients," said Anita Nayyar, chief executive of its Indian operations.

India now contributes at least Rs600 crore in billing annually to the $13 billion firm.

MPG had launched its sports marketing arm, Havas Sports, here last year.

It is also planning to bring its mobile marketing company, Mobtext, in the first half of 2009.

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