It is not just the number of metals that Indian agencies are bringing home that are determining their stature internationally. Many international agencies are coming to India to produce their television commercials, and the reasons for this growing phenomenon are manifold. Production of TV commercials in a low cost country is fairly common among the US and western European countries. The Smart Cube, a specialised KPO that provides customised market and business research and analyses to global clients, recently did a survey on global advertising outsourcing.
According to Sameer Walia, Managing Director, The Smart Cube, “We are constantly looking out for international trends that we want to identify before they make their foray in the market. We intend to keep our clients abreast about the latest market trends. This study was conducted over a period of six months, and we looked at various regions of the world to understand the nature of the practice of advertising outsourcing.”
One of the key result areas of this study was to identify a set of active players within some low cost destinations across the world who can match up to Western expectations. The results show that overall cost savings for line production, which excludes the post-production work, range from 12 per cent to 38 per cent. India offers significant cost savings of approximately 31 per cent. Outsourcing of end-to-end production was found to reap cost savings from 44 per cent to 77 per cent, and India offers significant cost benefits of 68 per cent in this area.
The survey also found that maximum cost savings for total crew, when compared to the US, occurs in India; this cost saving of approximately 90 per cent is a result of India’s relatively low cost directors and other crew members. At the same time, rental of equipment in India is the least expensive among all low cost countries due to the competitive nature of the domestic production industry and high number of total TVCs produced.
India has also seen the outsourcing of creative services; this is best illustrated in Perfetti Italy’s Alpenliebe TVC where the creative content was conceptualised by Ogilvy India and production services were awarded to Corcoise Films based in Mumbai. But Sanjay Thapar, President, O&M Delhi, feels that getting the production work done in India does not turn out to be cheaper. He said, “India is seen as a centre of excellence today. The trend of international agencies coming to India for outsourcing the production work has been visible since about four to five years. With India winning awards at international ad fests consistently, India is getting noticed on an international scale, which has led to this trend.”
Talking on the limitations for production in India, Walia pointed out that there were a lot of administration hassles, apart from the lack of proper equipments and the heavy costs of importing them. Support and impetus should be provided by the government, since advertising outsourcing could be a huge business development opportunity for India. “Shooting in Goa for two weeks costs almost the same as shooting for three days in a place like Australia. Plus, shooting outside India is much easier due to the absence of permit permissions, etc,” Walia explained.
The ‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ campaign for China and Indonesia was conceptualised by McCann-Erickson in India, which included developing the storyboard, scripting and all other initial stages of building the campaign. Prasoon Joshi, Regional Creative Director, South and South-East Asia, McCann-Erickson, said, “Even our TVC on Happydent, where we had a photographer using his assistant’s bright teeth as flash light, was replicated for the European markets. The ad for Europe was shot in India, but with foreign models that we had flown in from London.”
“Earlier, international agencies did not trust Indians with production, let alone developing concepts. But now agencies and clients have realised that consumers too want more localised ads, which would not feature people who are unlike them in many aspects. Plus, there is very fine talent in India right now. I am waiting for the day when even Indians can charge more than what international agencies would charge, and those agencies would come to India for the sheer quality of work, and not for the low cost,” said Joshi.
Apart from low costs, there were many other factors that determined the benefits of outsourcing the production work. Presence of various cultures and a good mix of ethnicities enables certain low cost countries like South Africa and Argentina to provide actors of international looks and caliber, while on the other hand, places like Brazil, Argentina and South Africa offer geographic diversity with the presence of locations ranging from mountains, deserts, forests and beaches, all within close proximity, and also enable producers to mask outdoor street shots as a street in New York or Paris.
Services to foreign clients comprises less than 5 per cent share in overall service portfolio for Indian production houses. Majority of the outsourced production is done for ads that require an Indian feel; the advertiser in these cases attempts to target the Indian or Asian demography in the Western population. It was found that the key companies engaged in outsourced production services are Corcoise Films and Highlight Films. Within the Asian region, India faces maximum competition from countries like Malaysia and Australia.
According to Gullu Sen, Vice Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Dentsu India, “It is good that Indian technology has come of age, and so we are being recognised internationally. In fact, already a lot of animation work for people like Walt Disney is being done here in India. I think globally, people can feel the standard of our work, apart from the cost factor. But if one considers the complete production process of a TVC, right from conceptualising it, I guess our scripts are still predominantly about Bollywood. We need to look beyond Bollywood while scripting, with idioms and ethos for an international audience. A different approach is needed which should have more realism in it.”