The ill-effects of unbundling of advertising agencies, their inability to attract the best talents, and the importance of long-term relationship between the client and the agency in brand building were the some of the topics that came under the scanner at Brandate, which was in Bangalore on June 30. Each speaker raised concerns about attrition in the advertising industry and people leaving advertising to join FMCG, retail and other businesses.
The opening remarks by Anurag Batra, MD and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media, who in lighter vein said, “Powerpoint presentations are used by people who are neither powerful nor have a point of view”, set the stage for what many from the audience described as the most interesting session of the day.
Listing out the several problems that advertising agencies are grappling with today, Batra said that over the last 10 years, the unbundling of advertising agency had changed the business overall. According to him, compensation in agencies had not been able to attract the best talent today. He further said that advertising was primarily about ideas.
“Is there an issue about ideas drying up or there is an issue about execution?” he wondered. Having said that the environment, the consumer and their aspirations were changing, and technology, social medium, podcast, i-Pod, blogging, etc, were playing a bigger role, Batra asked the panelists whether ad agencies were able to keep pace with these new trends. He also asked the panelists as to what the profile of future advertising professionals would be.
Replying to some of the questions raised by Batra, Bhaskar Bhat, MD, Titan Industries, said that in the past, the brand used to be the bridge between the company and the consumer, while the agency used to be custodian. But today, agencies were behind the company. While the company was trying to catch up with the consumer, the agencies were trying to catch up with the company. The scene is changing from industry verticals to retail.
Bhat added that the whole business of consumer transaction was changing to retailing and how the consumer behaved in a retail store had a great impact on brand purchase and product purchase. “How much money is being spent by the ad industry in studying the retail phenomenon?” he asked.
It has become important for agencies to have cross-category understanding, Bhat said. Agreeing with the concerns raised by Batra on the compensation front for advertising professionals, Bhat stressed that clients should respect the creative ideas of the agencies and pay them well. “If you pay peanuts, you will only get monkeys,” he said.
He also stressed on the importance of long term client-agency relationship. Pointing out that Titan had been retaining the same ad agency for 21 years despite a lot of pressure, Bhat said that building a long term relationship with the agency which was responsible for the brand was important, only then would brand custodianship truly take place.
Speaking about agencies’ expectations from clients and what clients should do to get the best out of the agencies, Prateek Srivastava, Group President, O&M South, said that clients should respect the ideas and the people behind the ideas. Showing some of the ads, which, he claimed, had seen the light of the day because of the clients, Srivastava said that some clients did not share their business plans and research data with the agency, thus keeping the agency in the dark. Without these details, sometimes the agency was not able to deliver its best, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV, said that the future looked bright for ad agencies. He also stressed on the importance of long term client-agency relationship.
“One of the biggest problems today is working on short term plans. If you really want to build a brand, you have to stop looking at the short term,” he said, adding if one was not investing in long time plans, he was not going to build brands.
Agreeing with most of the panelists, Nayak said that most of the agencies were not able to attract the best of talents because of poor compensation. “If you really want to be part of the future, you need to reinvent yourself,” he said.