New Delhi: Hemant Misra, the former chief executive of advertising agency Publicis Capital, has started his own full-service agency called MagicCircle with online travel agency MakeMyTrip as its first client. After resigning from Publicis in March last year, Misra worked on a consulting basis with Publicis training the teams.
“I wanted to get out of the management role because I became a businessman than an advertising professional. But it was Saurabh Varma (Publicis Communications, India CEO) who suggested that I should take up consulting," he said. Misra has led agencies like Mudra, Publicis and J Walter Thompson in his three- decade long career. With a focus on creating fresh creative solutions for its clients without the burden of chasing targets, Misra wants to venture into Bengaluru and Chennai markets by next year.
In an interview, he talks about what sets MagicCircle apart from big advertising agencies, talent he’s hiring and why content owned by brands on mobile is the next big thing in the ad world. Edited excerpts:
How will MagicCircle be different in terms of its offerings?
We are different from any other agency on three counts. Firstly, we do not begin work by taking the client brief; we do a lot of research through online listening, on-ground real time market experience with the sales and distribution teams. Unlike big agencies we have a more hands-on approach while dealing with clients staying in touch with the top most senior leadership (chief marketing officer) of a company to the sales team.
Thirdly, our focus is on the messaging and content and not solely on the media platform. Unlike most agencies which are focused on creating big campaigns for print or television, we will focus on the right brand message.
You have headed one of the biggest ad agencies, what is the size of the agency that you want to create?
Currently, we are 15 people strong. For me talent is more important than the sheer number of the workforce. I believe in training people that’s what I have done in all my previous organizations. I’m not the kind of leader who will sit in a cabin and will be unapproachable. Talent is the big difference between a large and small agency. I’m very careful about building teams and I want my people to thrive with me. I have created a collaborative agency model where everybody grows together. I’m also looking for people who understand every aspect of advertising. My executive creative director has been a servicing resource but now he’s handling creative department at MagicCircle. So, I don’t believe in segregating people based on departments and also I’m open to hiring people from non-agency backgrounds as well.
How are you making MagicCircle digital ready?
Our job is to understand how consumers are interacting with brands on social media and create strategy around it. The execution (it could be content, digital ad, website or app) can be outsourced. If I have cracked a digital solution for a client, I can go to a specialist and get it implemented.
What kind of clients are you looking forward to work with?
We are still in talks with multiple clients and as we sign contracts I’ll be able to talk about it. We are interested in working with brands across consumer durables, travel, hospitality and real estate among others. We are also open to doing interesting projects brands.
What is the biggest challenge agencies are facing?
The biggest challenge that ad agencies are facing is that of trust. It is important for agencies to not become desperate to get business. I’m not desperate to get business because I don’t want to follow the large agency approach where I get multiple clients but I’m unable to service them on a fee they are giving. There are so many good large clients in every agency that pay well and end up financing small clients who are not willing to pay the right price. So, I feel client relationship should be based on mutual trust where your work is rewarded with the right fee.
Any interesting consumer trends that are shaping up the advertising business?
People have been talking about the death of television advertising and social media taking over for a long time. However, an interesting trend that I see is the culmination of both the mediums where a lot of social media exchange will happen based on what people are seeing on television. Brands need to shed seriousness on social media and have fun with consumers which is not happening. That is why brand related content doesn’t get viral easily. Brand content, especially on mobile phones, is the next big thing in advertising where a brand can convey its attributes while entertaining the target consumer.