Mediabrands is finally in India, and the route that it has taken is its digital asset Reprise. Simply put, Reprise is the formalisation of an existing relation between Lodestar UM and Interactive Avenues. The two entities have been working together for the last 18 months as Interactive Universal. Anjali Hegde had been leading this joint initiative.
While much remains the same after this formalisation of the working relation, the joint venture was finalised only after some finer details were changed. This included the shareholding pattern of 51:49, wherein Mediabrands holds 51 per cent of the JV. Earlier, the JV was understood to be a 50:50 per cent venture.
Speaking to exchange4media on why the 51 per cent was so important, Michael Roth, Chairman & CEO, IPG, said, “Joint ventures are always tricky business, and ultimately the question has to be who owns it, and who doesn’t. In order for us to commit to our worldwide resources to this particular enterprise, it was necessary for us to have 51 per cent.”
Reprise clearly is only one part of the announcement – the more important part was that this JV marks Mediabrands’ presence in India. While Mediabrands has been present globally for almost two years now, the venture never took shape in India. One of the reasons reportedly was the lack of a leader for Mediabrands, given that IPG had two equally strong brands in media and advertising in India – Lodestar UM and Lintas.
Explaining further on that, and whether there was any change likely there, Roth said, “It depends on what is necessary for the marketplace. When you have very strong brands like Lodestar UM and Lintas, you don’t want to disrupt it. It is not broken – what you can do is add to those resources. There is no reason for us to interpose a new brand in the marketplace that would just be confusing to the people there. So, we have to use it as a resource in terms of allocating it. In some markets, where we don’t have presence, then the Mediabrands brand may make sense, but in India, given the fact that we have such strong brands, there is no need to do that.”
What else can be expected from IPG in India this year? Roth replied, “You are going to see a greater focus on the integrated offering in India. You don’t see a lot of that. For example, PR – you don’t see a lot of strength in PR. We want to be sure we are bringing all the resources on the table. Those are the areas we are pursuing in addition to traditional media – we have very strong traditional offerings in the media side and advertising side already. We want to service our multinational clients there and we want to bring all the resources that we have.”
The complete interview with Michael Roth would be carried in the Cannes Lions print special and the July issue of Pitch.