Advertising Conclave 2008 was held on April 3 as a precursor to GoaFest 2008, beginning from April 4. Speaking at the Conclave, D Shivkumar, VP & MD, Markets, Nokia India, was very clear that agencies had to change in a changing India. He delved on the telecom growth story, stating that this was one of the biggest changes that India had seen in the last few decades. However, the broad points that he made highlighted the changes that agencies and clients need to bring in their behaviour and way of working.
Shivkumar espoused the mantra of ‘Think global, work local and act viral’. He explained that India was an optimistic country, and his expectation from the future clients and agencies was no different. He was of the opinion that future clients would drive collaboration between the various partners of communication, rather than specialising further, which he believed created fragmentation. The future client would look for everyday innovation and build trust. The future agency, on the other hand, would do better programme management than what the agencies were doing today, he added.
India is changing; has advertising?
Everyone knows the India growth story, but Shivkumar did some number crunching to bring out that fact – he pointed out that India was now the 12th highest GDP generating country with the current GDP at $1 trillion, and that this figure was set to reach $2 trillion in the next eight years. If we had seen dramatic growth in the last few years, the next few years had a lot more to show. He expected this growth to be discontinuous. More importantly, he stated that India could take tips from economies like China and the US, but not look at them completely for where India was headed. India would have its own growth story to say, since this economy had various points that were common to various markets, and that made India’s story unique, Shivkumar remarked.
In light of this, Shivkumar believed that agencies had lost out on the partners that they could be. He said, “Agencies have all the data, information and the wherewithal; why is it that clients go to the McKenzies of the world instead for their business strategies?” He also said that professionals used the term ‘360-degree’ without knowing what it meant. He pointed out that the fee structure had changed, which had changed profitability, but the respect that agencies and clients had had for each other was going southwards. Finally, consumers and the market dynamics killed mercilessly – both agencies and clients had to be prepared for that, he cautioned.
According to him, the biggest assets were the people in the business and should get the maximum focus. Amongst some of the things that hadn’t changed, he said, “We still talk about rural they way we talked about it 20 years ago.”
He drew out a new Rubik’s cube which had marketing, media and agencies on the three sides. “What we have done with this is increase specialisation, and hence, fragmentation. We are not getting enough focus and we are wasting people and money resources. Are we talking to each other, or listening to each other? Brand vision is the long time commitment to the idea – do we share common visions?”
Shivkumar stated, “Every business in the last decade has become fragmented and is less in control – and that is not good news. There are dotted lines of roles – who is the brand owner?” He spoke extensively on the future consumer, on the managements that would lead corporates of the future; he also spoke on the different kinds of consumers and the three triggers of the consumption market – aspiration, quality and value.
While introducing, Shivkumar, GroupM’s Hiren Pandit had said that Shivkumar was one of the most passionate brand builders, and this passion was seen in his address.