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Media specialists are becoming all-in-ones for advertisers. MindShare, the global media specialist company under WPP Group Plc’s GroupM, is restructuring globally in a bid to become a true business partner for clients and offer more than media planning and buying. Goodbye, traditional silos. Instead, digital operations will be part of integrated mainstream operations, and four new divisions will be launched everywhere, including India, by this year-end, says Singapore-based Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO, MindShare Asia Pacific, and part of the global re-engineering team, in an interview with Mint:

What is your vision and projection for MindShare India?

Two-thirds of MindShare’s business comes from India, China and Australia. We will be competing against ad agencies, specialist units, business consultants for a larger share of the advertiser’s budget.

Revenues will scale by 25-30% against the usual 15%. For areas other than buying and planning, we will charge a set-up fee and a percentage of brand sales increase.

Clients are increasingly working with experts from various domains and need someone to play a leading orchestrating role. The new MindShare will step in here. We are looking at a business model which is not an integrated service with TV commercial creation behind it, but one that will employ people who understand technology and consumers. This involves brand platforms and ideas that go into any form of distribution, and a commercial is just one of them.

Could you share details on each new upcoming division?

New Goals: Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO, Mindshare, Asia Pacific

Client leadership: Client leaders here are unlike the classic suits (planners) who are there to maintain client relationships. They understand client businesses and can marshal resources across any discipline. For example, MindShare works with Malaysia Airlines globally. The biggest challenge for them is to grow their online business. Client leaders for this business are those who can get people who are already online to go to the Malaysia Airlines website and sample what is on offer.

Business planning, or BP: It is close to the consultancy model. Brands and marketing help create value for consumers, which leads to brand engagement and conversion. Business planners will tackle marketing challenges. Ford Motor Co. has a popular model—Fiesta—positioned as a utilitarian, inexpensive car. They now want to grow the brand, though they face stiff competition in the value for money segment. While they are saddled with three decades of heritage of a utilitarian car, they have to address a changed consumer segment which sees the vehicle as an expression of its personality.

The mismatch: Big ambitions, but brand assets are out of sync with consumer needs. Business planners will address such issues: Is the company’s ambition supported by its brand assets? Is the advertiser talking to them through the right channels at different points in a consumer’s journey? Are ads addressed to the right segment?

BP fulfils various needs:

1. Consumer intelligence: Big companies all over the world have their own consumer intelligence. Creative agencies have not invested much in this area, while media agencies all over the world, whether it’s MindShare or any of the global groups, have invested a lot in consumer intelligence. Between clients and us, there is a lot of investment in consumer intelligence.

2. Value creation or data analytics: Looks at all data and possible return on investment. What works and what doesn’t. Where should I put the money? At what stage in the consumer’s journey? Here again, creative agencies haven’t invested much. Media agencies and consultancies have.

3. Brand strategy: To be able to understand brand assets. Creative agencies have done some interesting work in this area and MindShare can work with creative agencies in this area or anyone in an open-source model.

Invention: Marketing is all about telling a story and the idea which helps tell the story. The story is told at different points in a consumer’s journey through different channels, and MindShare will help create digital, retail, sponsorship content, branded entertainment and programmes. It will bring in various partners that clients are comfortable with to create the story in an open-source model. So, Fremantle Media can flesh out the idea into a reality show.

Nike is associated with football in Asia and has an entire line devoted to it. The traditional solution is to create a TV commercial with football players. But, get content and digital guys together and create a platform that gets street football alive, and you can mobilize millions of young kids around the world.

So, you create a reality programme called Soccer Prince for young boys who then go to play with one of the big clubs in the UK. That’s value exchange because you are bringing alive someone’s dream. We began with China last year.

Exchange: Will reinvent the media buying business since in most markets media ownership is becoming cross-platform. Exchange folks will go to media owners with the idea, saying: Your assets are these, my objectives are these, and these are the ways we can build around the story for the brand. The buyer becomes platform-agnostic in that sense.

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