Ogilvy Worldwide is just completing a pitch, where one of the key client requirements was for the agency to be present in, and understand, India as a market. The advertiser connected with only 12 agencies, all of which were known to have operations in India. “The largest pitch we had done this year, which completed in July, also was looking for India as one of its key markets. In that case, our India team travelled to the US as part of the international team to present to the client,” noted Miles Young, CEO, Ogilvy Worldwide, in a conversation with exchange4media, on the growing importance of the role that India was playing for multinational companies today.
The auto sector is filled with examples, where the likes of Volkswagen and Ford have deputed some of their key officers to relocate and work from India to grow the brand here. The case has been true for consumer electronics like Samsung, Toshiba and LG for a while too. India is one of the key markets for advertisers not only for the contribution that the market is currently making to the sales figures of these brands but also because of the growth potential it holds in days to come.
While most of the bigger agencies have ensured presence in India, the newer ones like BBH or BMB have looked at bringing their key people to India to strengthen their offering in the market.
Consolidation with one agency partner
Just as advertisers are strengthening their presence in India in various ways, their search for agency partners is also undergoing a change. Consolidating with a single partner in the region in increasingly becoming critical to multinational advertisers, and they are selective in their markets of priority; a list this has begun to include India in a big way.
Mark Tutssel, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide, observed, “Creativity is the most valuable asset in the business at present, and the need for clients to find business partners that they can work with to grow their brand, and to connect to the human race, has never been this great. Clients are looking for network agencies that have strength in both depth and breadth. Major brands are looking for one global standard and one approach to communication appropriate to them. As they look to consolidate their business, they need to be reassured that they will get the best in class from their agencies in their key markets, and India has become one of those selected few markets.”
Miles Young pointed out that for a while advertisers have been consolidating their advertising business at the regional and global level for the obvious advantages that brings but increasingly, the stress on robust India operations has amplified.
For Michael Wall, CEO, Lowe & Partners, presence in India is fundamental for agencies that look for advertiser’s attention in regional or global pitches. He said, “India is cornerstone from an economic and brand & communication point of view for any serious multinational brand. Fortunately for us, Lowe Lintas is a strong local agency that contributes to Lowe & Partners’ global strength significantly.”
A Technology-driven Growth
Jean Yves, COO, Publicis Groupe stated that it would not take long before “India takes on the world”. He elaborated, “India is the next winner in the region, also because a number of things are being addressed, which had so far prevented India from being on the leading edge. It was critically important to invest in infrastructure such as 3G and that is happening in India. The country’s leaders are investing in digitisation extensively, and all this is prerequisite to move to the next level.”
India is exploding in terms of its potential and growth velocity. Tutssel reminded that the work coming from out of India were examples of progressive thinking that would set a new agenda for communication. He said, “India is yet not leveraging the potential of technology and it is only a matter of time before it does. Technology has made it easier for people to connect with people but it brings unprecedented challenges when brands want to connect with people. Agencies need to ensure that brand communication is not only entertaining and engaging but also is relevant, stimulating and useful to consumers. New Delhi and Mumbai have become very important contributors to Leo Burnett’s creative reputation in achieving this.”
The leaders reiterated that it the future growth potential that makes India attractive to advertisers, and hence agencies. Jean Yves observed, “India has a very smart population. It understands technology, is English speaking and a young population. International universities are filled with Indian students, waiting to come back to the country and that will add to the quality consumer base advertisers look for.”
Nirvik Singh, CEO, Grey Worldwide APAC added, “India, along with China, is probably the most strategic market for clients. In any regional pitch, invariably the questions are asked about the agency in China and then India. Currently, China’s GDP growth is faster, but India has huge growth potential too, because the demographic going forward is in India’s favour. The Chinese economy has grown top down, where the government built infrastructure, created jobs and so on, but the Indian economy is what we call a true ‘consumption economy’, that has grown bottom up, and the infrastructure growth will add to this.”
As advertisers look at India closely, agency networks and independents have further increased the ways in which they are growing in India. For days to come, this focus on investments is likely to increase.