We can see some very strong signs when you see the macro indicators of what was happening, Asia was not really that damaged… Some of the markets had a very dramatic slowdown and some markets just had slowdown, but still there was a growth, and then there were a couple of markets like Japan that had their own markets; Korea is very export-dependent, so they are now also picking up. The overall advertising market should grow – it is an overall positive picture. We are having another decent year.
Earlier this month, there was a significant change in the Aegis Media APAC structure, when the agency announced that Patrick Stahle, who has held numerous roles within Aegis Media since 1995 – the latest being the CEO, Aegis Media APAC – has decided to retire from the industry to pursue a non-executive career. The development would be effective from the second quarter of 2010. Stahle was appointed CEO of Aegis Media Asia-Pacific in 2006. Since then, he has almost doubled regional revenue and increased operating profit more than three-fold.
He was previously CEO of Aegis Media Sweden and of Aegis Media Nordics. From an India viewpoint, Stahle has been popular for taking some of the key decisions that brought Aegis Media’s presence back on track in India. A regular visitor to the market, Stahle’s leadership has seen the appointment of Ashish Bhasin here, and hence leading to a more stable leadership structure in India.
In this interview with exchange4media’s Noor Fathima Warsia, Stahle speaks on what will keep him busy post his exit from the industry, and what will keep him busy in the next six months. He also speaks on some of the key developments that have taken place in Aegis Media in India, and APAC.
Q. I agree with Posterscope, but Isobar is still not ticking it yet…
The infrastructure in India for digital, and the penetration of broadband and Internet is still growing, it is a very simple mobile driven market, but most of the devices in India are not made for other than maybe text. In that sense, what we are doing is that we are making sure we can build a good well integrated business. Also, Posterscope will be becoming digital. Isobar kind of merges the online and offline, but that is not happening in that pace in India. Apart from India and many other markets, there is a huge difference. I am not too worried about the pace, what I am concerned is that when we are established, it can grow well together.
Q. Over the past, many conversations that we’ve had with you, we have discussed that Aegis Media in India, and its various brands, has faced various setbacks – the relationship with Percept and then that ending, then the maintaining of stability in leadership. It has appeared now that things are getting stable, but would you say that the recession has presented another set of roadblocks to Aegis in India?
To be fair, the roadblocks we had earlier were more internal in nature. We sorted them out and I am very proud of the organisation that we have in India, and the ambition of people in India. So, the roadblocks that we are now looking at tearing down are external roadblocks, which are more connected to the economy. But you cannot do that without sorting out your own house. I feel that now we have a structure in India that can support global businesses and can win their own local businesses as well.
Q. While you have been benefitted by the spree of global pitches, but what do you think about them – we have 6-7 pitches that followed Nokia…
When you end up in a recession, you tend to forget that what is also happening at a parallel level is a fundamental change in advertising. In that perspective, we see that clients are looking for different solutions. They are not using the opportunity, it is the desire to find different solutions on how they should approach communication, there are always quite a few global pitches going on. Unfortunately, they have come in a cluster this time and it has put pressure on the industry as well, because we all try and see how we make the best use of that. But what it has done is bring some fundamental changes in advertising on top of the recession, the online and offline becoming diffused, media houses are facing a lot of problem in adapting to the recession, so there is a lot of digitisation happening – there is a dramatic change, which we find encouraging.