Advertising Interviews

Bernhard Glock

Founder | 06 Nov 2009

You can expect us to continue to fight for the freedom of advertising and for a framework that would enable us to advertise more efficiently and effectively. This will absolutely affect India. We are in very close collaboration with the Indian Association, and when anything happens in India, we will work in any way that we can to help enable us to continue advertising. You can also expect us to have a closer look into India in the way medium like mobile can be picked up, or the way in which new media can be explored.

After studying in Mannheim, Germany and Knoxville, Tennessee, Bernhard Glock joined Procter & Gamble in 1985 as a Market Research Assistant, Fabric Care, Diapers and Beverages. During his career with Procter & Gamble, Glock worked as Media Manager, Assistant Brand Manager, Germany and Europe, Group Media Manager, European Media Manager, Brussels. In 1998, he became Director, Media-Europe, P&G Europe, Middle East and Africa and Director Media-Asia, P&G Asia, taking on additional responsibility for Laundry and Cleaning Products in Europe.

In 2001, he took on additional responsibilities as Leader of the P&G Global Media Community of Practice and in 2002, Leader of the Global Connecting with Consumers Centre of Excellence. In 2003, he was appointed Manager, Global Media & Communication; in December 2006, he was appointed Vice-President, Global Media and Communication, and in 2007, he was appointed Vice-President, Global Media Purchases. From 1998 to 2004, he was Chairman, Media Committee of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), becoming Deputy Chairman of the World Federation of Advertisers from May 2004-May 2006. Since May, he has been President of the World Federation of Advertisers.

Back in 2004, AdAge had described him as a ‘maverick, change agent and charismatic leader – a media rock star’. Earlier this year, when his decision to step down from media duties of P&G was announced, many were taken by surprise and many were wondering what would be next from this media guru. And on October 1, 2009, a day after his stint at P&G completed, Bernhard Glock Media Leadership Company was officially launched.

In this interview with Noor Fathima Warsia, Glock speaks more on his new company, his rationale to take the entrepreneurial and what next can be expected from him.

Q. Let’s begin with your new venture --- you have decided to do something on your own this time. What should we expect from you?

Nothing less than continuing to change the world in media. I have launched my own business, and I call it the Bernhard Glock Media Leadership Company. I continue with the work that I know best to do, which is working on global media matters on a strategic level -- it is really media consultancy or business development at various levels. I work with all three areas that are the advertisers, the media agencies and the media themselves. I already have some start-up companies that have approached me and have some fantastic ideas, and we will help launch and expand their portfolio of brands and offerings.

Q. Have you already connected with these three segments?

I have had discussions with global representatives and general managers of various advertisers; I have discussions with CEOs of agency networks and with key sales and TV station people on training methods to better understand the clients.

Q. Any names that you want to share with us that you are working with?

Not right now. Though we are in the process of making a few announcements but we have to wait for the right time for that.

Q. Is this completely US based right now?

I continue to be based in Cincinnati, Ohio – my family is there and my kids go to school there so I would continue working from there. Right now, I am operating on my own and see how it is going. I do have a fantastic network of former colleagues and people I worked with, most of whom have launched their own businesses by now, so I want to utilise this network and see how far we can go with this network. If it goes further, then I have to obviously re-look the business model, maybe start something in other parts of the world.

Q. What about the clients that you want to announce soon --- are they US centric for now?

No, not at all. I have one start-up company in UK who have already started offices in New York and Singapore, and are expanding worldwide. I have another product company in Germany who I am meeting in London in two weeks. I have one agency network that is based in New York but pans across the world, so it is worldwide

Q. Any work we can expect you to do in India?

Oh absolutely. In fact, I had dinner with Sam Balsara when I was in Kuala Lumpur this time for Ad Asia. We had dinner and a good exchange of thoughts; I am obviously open to work anywhere right now but I have to see how things shape up and pan out.

Q. Yes, it is still early days --- you are just a month old...

Yes, my company was launched on October 1, 2009 – I was still completing by days at P&G prior to that. So, it is just a month but I am overwhelmed by the interest and the good feedback that I have received so far. I am very excited with the way things are shaping up.

Q. We have to ask this -- what prompted the decision to leave P&G after 24 years?

At P&G, I basically fulfilled my mission. I worked there for 24 years, of which 20 years I had worked in media, and I worked on the global media business for seven to eight years now. P&G is by far the biggest advertiser that there is, and I was heading that into the future, which was great. In line with that futuristic vision, my job at the end was to reorganise media and focus it much more towards functional expertise areas. So we combined media, marketing buying in one entity we had a new head for that side. Then we combined the media and marketing operations part of the business in another entity and we had another head for that. So everything is in place, I did my job and moved on.

Q. So the precise role you had no longer exists in P&G?

Media, as it existed in the past, in P&G is gone. This is what I told to our people in Berlin three years ago---I use Berlin because we broke the wall then of looking at the future of media. We were on our way then to do exactly this reorganisation that was needed and having brought that to fruition now, my role there is over.

Q. And this new role as an entrepreneur obviously has you all charged...

I feel great as an entrepreneur; I cannot imagine right now going back to any company. I love being out there on my own and doing what I love to do. It is fantastic.

Q. Let us move the discussion to another one of your roles, which is the President of World Federation of Advertisers. WFA has shown a lot of interest in India in the last couple of years --- would you like to speak to us more on the role of India and if it is growing?

Absolutely. If you look at the world, China stands out and India stands out in terms of the development, the size of the market and the growth pace that we are seeing there. I must say India is very active and they are very good. India has a huge opportunity across many sectors, mobile for example. I think India has the chance to step change some of the developments that are slow in other countries. India can leapfrog some growth, which I think is fantastic when you view it from the point of media innovation and evolution.

Q. Everyone talks about India and China but the difference between China and India is huge, China is about six times the Indian market. Is there a concern that there is such a huge gap between the number one and the number two in the so-called growth markets?

There is no concern at all – it is simply a fact. China is huge and massive in the size of the market and it is a no-miss country I would say if you want to grow globally. India will come there, it is just a matter of time and you will be there.

Q. What do you think is the reason of the difference – is it the lack of a sizeable number of national entrepreneurs?

I doubt that since there are so many entrepreneurs in India. I don’t know yet to be honest with you. I would seriously have to look into this one and see what are the barriers of growth in India, and then draw a conclusion.

Q. Coming back to WFA, what are some of the things that we can expect from WFA in the days to come?

You can expect us to continue to fight for the freedom of advertising and for a framework that would enable us to advertise more efficiently and effectively. This will absolutely affect India. We are in very close collaboration with the Indian Association, and when anything happens in India, we will work in any way that we can to help enable us to continue advertising. You can also expect us to have a closer look into India in the way medium like mobile can be picked up, or the way in which new media can be explored. We launched about a year ago a digital team in the WFA network, and we looked around the world to see the best practices and how we can share them.

Q. How are you looking at strengthening your various partners like ISA in India?

Our key work is sharing and reapplying. We get directly involved, if we have to, to help from an international perspective. We have now a new database where we archive files and based our learning including members. So in a much tailored way, we can send out information to different market segments and associations. Everything is open to our member and there has been a tremendous growth in our own members in the WFA.

Q. On a bit more overall level, everyone is talking about 3-6 per cent growth rate in advertising revenues in India. What is your view on this?

In today’s times and the ways the business is hit, this is good. We realise that many advertisers are careful but at the same time, we are seeing that in many regions the economy is picking up, so I would expect this growth to continue.

Q. Do you think India is maturing well in terms of utilising the growth of different new mediums?

I don’t know about maturing, and I will explain more on what I mean by that. The growth in the new mediums has happened so fast that maturing is a strange word. I think everyone is chasing their own pace constantly in trying to stay ahead. In today’s digital world, the speed is immense and I have never seen such fast developments in all aspects; maturing is a word of the past now.

Q. Alright, let’s rephrase that then --- do you think this fast pace of growth is posing its own disadvantages, and again mobile is the classic example there. India has 350 million handsets depending on which survey you are looking at but how many of them are 3G enabled...

Which is a fair point. I think the way to deal with this is to see what sticks up with the fast growth in India. There would be many ideas that come up, many are coming up at a tremendous pace, and of these some would stay and you have to see how you develop it at your own pace. That said, I am not seeing any disadvantages from that, I just see whatever works for India has to be done, would eventually be done. But where we can accelerate change is that advertisers understand new media, use it and get to know it and close the digital competency gap that many of us have and then move into the new world much more consciously and deliberately than we do now.

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