At the IAA Conversations event held in Mumbai on Tuesday evening, a panel comprising Ashok Venkatramani, CEO, ABP News; Bobby Pawar, MD & Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Worldwide, South Asia; CVL Srinivas, CEO, Group M; Neeraj Roy, MD & CEO, Hungama Digital; Srinivasan K Swamy, MD & CEO, RK Swamy and Kaushik Roy, President, Brand Strategy & Marketing Communication, Reliance Industries Ltd spoke on the various facets of the Indian economy and the state of the advertising, media and digital industry in India.
Monica Tata, former MD of HBO India began the session by mentioning that there is absence of women from the senior management in media. She said, “Trend in media and the corporate industry is such that, from junior to the mid-level, there are enough women, but for some reason, it disappears when it comes to boardrooms as COOs or business heads in the country. Finance and the banking industry has been a lot pro-active and they have a lot of COOs there, who are leading such organisation, but in the media, one hasn’t seen it come out very strongly. I expect tides to change soon.”
“There are quite a few obstacles, which women still need to overcome in this age and day. One simple e.g. is that of the Bollywood industry, where inspite of so many women oriented films, there still exist a wide disparity in the income between the male and the female lead actors. Coming to how advertising can play a positive role in changing this perception, it is by projecting things in the right light. Like its okay to show men doing household chores or doing the laundry,” she added.
To highlight the complexity of the market, Srinivas from Group M, said that India is a land of paradoxes. On one hand, when we have 250 million English speaking audience, on the other hand literacy level in some states is close to just 60%.We are the number two market for Facebook, when we have over 60% of the population living in rural markets. This gives a fair idea of the complexity of the market. “One of the lessons to be learnt is that, there is no benchmark in terms of advertising and marketing. You will have to set your own benchmark. The fact is that India is under-branded and an under-advertised brand in the world, inspite of an economy, which is growing fairly well,” he cited.
Venkatramani from ABP News shared that the traditional media is growing at the rate of twice our GDP and the best part is that it is going to continue. “In our country, TV penetration is over 50%, the average number of hours spent on TV is actually half of what is spent in more developed countries like UK and USA. Thirdly, we are a diverse country; there are 18 officially recognised languages. This gives huge scope to the TV content makers because we are a diverse nation. In US, they took more than 2 decades to digitise their cable network and we in India, have almost achieved it in a matter of 3 years. This means, there is immense scope for the TV industry to grow. For print, we have read enough that it is dying, but it is actually growing faster than our GDP. Radio has grown recently from 86 cities to 294 cities and is expected to grow more into smaller towns and deeper,” he said.
Roy from Hungama Digital elaborated the manner in which digital is impacting our lives. How internet and mobile as a medium and what it is doing. The impact on banking and payments systems and how it is impacting the commerce and the GDP across industries.
Pawar summed up creativity in India in 4 broad sub-headings. He added, “Firstly, ‘Jokes work, but humour with empathy works well’. E.g. the recent Ambuja Cement ad with Giant Khali which adopted this strategy. Secondly, ‘every baby is a cry baby’, thirdly, ‘bend the rules to innovate’ and finally, ‘your over the top is our normal’. Stories rule, especially stories based on deep human insight. Stories should not always have a message, but they should have a point of view.”