Any conversation with Mainardo de Nardis, CEO, OMD Worldwide, always leaves one rethinking aspects of the business that one otherwise either didn’t think of, or took for granted. At least such have been the conversations with exchange4media, whether it was in Cannes or in his New York office. Meeting him in the Mumbai office of OMD was no different. Exuding the same energy he does every time, Mainardo spoke on some of the things in his India office that left him pleasantly surprised.
“Not many agencies, and I mean this worldwide, are very comfortable in challenging the client. Many still believe in ‘Yes Sir, will be done’ approach with the client. But the people I have met from the OMD India operations truly show the OMD spirit of question the client. We are here as clients partners, to dare norms and do something out of the ordinary. I was very pleased to see that in the team here,” he noted.
While this is the first time that Mainardo is in India in his OMD role, he has been a regular to this side of the world. This visit is after a gap of year and a half – “the longest that I have stayed away”, Mainardo remarked. He added, “I was also surprised with the level of sophistication in many aspects of our business, and the communication industry in general, which is at par with the best in the world. I have been saying this, and now I see this happening as well, we are in the space when ideas, tools and thought process from India would be exported to the rest of the world. Especially in domains like mobile. We are talking of 250 million smartphones in India in the near future – that is a big number. And the move from 2.5G to 3G is simply going to really change the market.”
But how does someone like him, as an outsider to the market, view current developments in India like the 2G scam? “Unfortunately reminds everyone that most of the world is the same. There are some problems you find here and some, somewhere else. But these things are not going to change the speed of the way things are moving in India. There are many very positive things happening here. These are incidents that are annoying and one may argue that they affect the credibility of the market, but they are forgotten soon enough because things are moving very quickly in this market. You feel more conscious since this happened in India. I would feel the same if something happened in Italy,” he commented.
Nothing can, however, dampen the digital vision that Mainardo has spoken of in earlier conferences this year – whether it was in China or at the exchange4media Conclave in Mumbai on June 11, 2010. “Digital is the electricity of media, we will soon stop talking about it as something separate or independent, because it would be everywhere. We are getting there very quickly,” Mainardo remarked.
An important point that came from this conversation was the sense of the new normal. Mainardo reflected that during the recession, there was an increased interest in efficiency, which was continuing even now. “But it is continuing in the right direction,” he said. Efficiency today is not just about the buying or discounts, which for Mainardo is obvious and a part of the due diligence that every client and every agency should go through. But today, there is a search for a better understanding of what media delivers.
He asked, “What is the role for owned media or paid media or earned media? How do they contribute to the positioning and awareness of the brand, but much more down the line to business KPIs (key performance indicators) like sales, conversions, new trials and so on? The industry, at least the intelligent part of the industry, is thinking on the lines of let’s create a new currency to evaluate the power of marketing programmes and its real effects on our business. When that it is done – and it can be done – it changes a lot of rules of the game.”
While Mainardo divulged that OMD was doing a lot of work with a number of its clients in that direction, including testing even with clients in India, he didn’t speak on which clients in particular. He said, “The testing tells you that we can do it, and once we have, it changes not just planning, when you can look at the whole conversations which are generated around the brand, but it also changes the rules in buying and it links our job much more to the final business performance of the client. This will eventually change the remuneration system, because if you know how much you are contributing to deliver, you can really incentivise business results.”
That attempt to establish a new currency that measures conversations is a result of the recession. Mainardo noted, “The recession took out focus on the short-term, and in the new normal, clients want the focus on efficiency to go in the long-term.”
Needless to say, he is very upbeat about the work that OMD has been doing on these lines.
The industry is struggling with an effective monetisation model: Mainardo de Nardis, CEO, OMD Worldwide