Even though it has been on the cards for a while, when Mindshare finally announced the changes in its senior management, the industry was abuzz with what the new roles would mean for R Gowthaman aka G’Man, who is slated to be Chief Client Officer, Mindshare APAC and for Ravi Rao, who replaces becomes G’Man to be Leader, Mindshare South Asia.
G’Man’s role in particular has been in conversations, as this is a newly created role for the region. Explaining further on the role, G’Man said, “This is recognition at a global level that Mindshare will invest in client-focussed talent. Mindshare is no longer an age-old cut and dry media planning and buying set up. It is about marketing planning today. You will see more of such roles at a global level – it is meant to stay.”
For G’Man, this is an exciting challenge, as this is a journey central to Mindshare’s agenda. “We have to get this right to steer Mindshare in the right direction. At present, Asia is the centre of attraction. One can expect good GDP growth and inflow of advertisers in this market. Many global clients are focussing strenuously in this region. To me this is something that comes at the right time, in the right region.”
G’Man’s role will see him work with advertisers a lot more closely than a typical agency head has the bandwidth to. “The role has been created with a clear agenda to manage multiple stakeholders. Today on the client’s side alone, there is research, marketing, distribution, procurement, sales, digital is a standalone unit for some clients and there is a need to be able to engage with each of these and be able to offer more to the clients as their trusted advisors. For an agency like Mindshare, that is category blocked in most cases, growth can largely come from the same clients and not just adding new clients.”
The Chief Client Officer role will also require G’Man to create new revenue streams for Mindshare, a role that he was already executing for India. G’Man is viewing the APAC role in four clear parts – China, South East Asia, Australia and India. “Of these three are new to me, and I look forward to working with the country clients leaders and understanding these markets and their requisites better,” he observed.
He said that he would be seen in India frequently enough too but he was quick to add that in Ravi Rao, the organisation had handed the South Asia, and hence the India mandate, to the right leader.
Ravi Rao makes no pretence in acknowledging the task that lies ahead. Speaking to exchange4media, he said, “While it has been on the anvil and Mindshare is very clean in its succession planning, at best, I had expected to be in the consideration set for the role. But that was all that I had expected. I am delighted that the agency has considered me for this role, and I am excited to take it forward. I realise it is not going to be easy to fill in the G’Man’s shoes but I want to take up this challenge.”
For Rao, there are three clear challenges ahead. “The first is to bring the best of Mindshare as a trusted advisor to our clients within the framework of marketing, which is what the agency’s proposition has been in the last three years. This is perhaps the single biggest challenge that lies ahead. The second is to attract, nurture and grow talent. In the current market scenario, clients require people who bring with them a multidisciplinary approach and in the process assist in growing the client’s business,” he said.
The third very clear challenge ahead of Mindshare in India, according to Rao, is to take digital to a broader territory. He explained, “We can do a lot more in terms of mobile, owned and earned media and make it much more meaningful for advertisers. Right now there are few and rare examples of how this medium can be used to grow the clients’ business, and there are ways to look at digital in a bigger way. In fact, digital happens to be one aspect but we have to see how we can bring more original thinking to new technology based offerings.”