Carat Media Services has announced its global initiative to reposition itself as a communications planning agency – the initiative kicking off in India on August 18, 2006. Patrick Stahle, Acting CEO, Asia Pac, Carat, made the announcement introducing the 3C strategy. According to him, this strategy would be instrumental in converting Carat into, what agency officials termed as, version 2.0.
The other noteworthy points that Carat officials said were of taking the onus to lead communications planning for a client and offering econometrics. Econometrics may be defined as giving empirical content to economic theory, but in Carat’s case, it is what the agency is banking on as a differentiating tool. Carat has also indicted the focus on local clients as a strong area of growth.
Looking at the 3C factor first – the model revolves around Curiosity, Creativity and Collaboration. Stahle explained that in the changing consumer and media landscape in India, this was just the right time to elevate Carat from being a version 1.2 agency to a version 2.0 agency.
Charles Berley Jenarius, Group CEO, Carat India, explained that unlike version 1.2, version 2.0 was about holistic communication strategy that allowed engagement planning, seamless execution and finally, econometrics, which was gauging what component of a media plan delivered – in effect identifying and reducing what wasn’t delivering.
He further said, “The new form allows us to reduce mere exposure, in effect reducing wastage due to ad avoidance, to evolve consumer centric planning, create engagement and in the process increase return on investment.”
Rob Kabus, Regional Director, Communications Planning, Asia Pacific region, explained here that the objective really was to move from cosmetic integration to true integration. Essentially, unlike media planning, the address was not to ‘targets’ but to ‘people’. It’s moving from exposures to engagement, from campaign awareness to brand preference, and from delivery goals to business goals.
For Kabus, the “communication continuum” that Carat had to offer now, allowed this shift. He said, “We have to create brand experiences by modes like branded content, utilising digital platforms and experiential marketing. In all, we will be the indispensable media partner for clients.”
Carat isn’t the first agency to speak of Communications planning, and agencies – both media and creative – have been quoted time and again on why they should be leading a communications planning. Why is Carat so confident on this new proposition? Jenarius replied, “We are media independent and in a manner of speaking that would give all creative agencies a comfort level to work with us as we aren’t ‘related to’ any other agency.”
“As to why should we have the onus? There are many examples like Orchestra or McCann’s IMC, where creative agencies have tried to lead communications planning and have failed, which isn’t surprising at all. They bring great creative ideas and no one is taking that away, but they don’t know the first thing about what media will be used, how much, what media is delivering or even what the new ways of communication are – they don’t have the kind of data, analytics and applications that we have today for some fundamental requirements of a media plan and when you take the responsibility of leading a plan, you have to be far more evolved,” Jenarius said.
He cited the example of the P&G win in the US market, saying that clients were realising the changing dynamics and when a client decided who led communication, agencies didn’t have much choice but to follow.
The beginning of Deep Blue (Communication Planning) and SPI (Econometric Modelling) in India is a step towards evolution that the agency claims give it an accountable and responsible approach to brands. K Subramanian, Executive Director, will be in charge of Deep Blue and SPI in India, working along with Kabus.
P V Narayanamoorthy, Regional Director, Strategic Resources, APAC, will now devote time in India to facilitate this transition and help seamlessly integrate communications planning with traditional media planning.
Jenarius said, “When Carat was launched in India as a media independent, in a way we began the process of media unbundling in the country. Now we have to pave the way for new ways and this is what this repositioning is about. MNCs are taking care of MNCs and somewhere there are Indian companies that are growing at phenomenal speed. Someone has to take care of that. Globally, local business has been Carat’s strength and India is no different.”
Carat Version 2.0: It’s more about communication than media planning