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Vivek Srivastava

Joint MD | 26 Mar 2010

Most clients and talent tend to think we are a close-ended organisation. Hence, it does make us work doubly hard to convince our prospective clients and employees that we are a normal brand communications organisation with a worldview on the issues at hand and also their solutions. As a matter of fact, we are far more innovative in approaching solutions in a practical sense.

A management graduate from University of Allahabad, Vivek Srivastava majored in Market Research. He began his career as a sales executive with Onida, selling audio systems in 1987, post which he moved to Mudra Communications. A five-year stint with Mudra was made very meaningful by way of association with big brands.

In November 1992, Srivastava joined Triton Communications, which was setting up its Delhi office. It was a 14-year stint that saw the agency gain in stature and Srivastava was designated as the Executive Director in 2002. From there, he moved on to Innocean to set up its India operation in December 2005.

Srivastava has interests in strategic planning and organisation development and is a keen golfer and avid reader of fiction and management books.
Pallavi Goorha Kashyup

Q. As Joint MD, what is your vision for Innocean in the year ahead?

Our global vision, of which India is an integral part, is to be seen as a strategically sharp and creatively brave. It applies to the way we define our strategic problems and their solutions, look at basic issues like segmentation and consumer behaviour more incisively, so that the final output is compelling. It’s about being an idea enabler, more than a provider of communication.

Q. How did Innocean fare during the slowdown?

The year 2009 began for us at Innocean Worldwide India, like it did for all our counterparts in the ad industry, on a cautious note and a sense of unease. No one was sure where the markets would be headed in the short to medium term. However, our new business efforts and the aggressive marketing stance of our key client, Hyundai, held us in good stead. As the year drew to a close, we saw a sense of equilibrium and euphoria as we were on course with our targets. We acquired two new clients – Fena Detergents for their new range of personal care products, and Beam Mobile Payment System. Our total billings grew by 14 per cent. The year 2009 also saw Innocean Worldwide India consolidate its functional expertise by adding to its head-count. The agency strength stands at a 42 right now and is slated to inch to the 50-mark by April 2010.

Q. Do you think digital will show the way at a time when traditional media like television and print has become too expensive for advertisers?

In India, we are still seeing incremental deliveries from mass media vehicles like television, print, etc. These are expensive not for any other reason except their efficiencies and comfort of numbers. Digital is a vehicle with a different footprint and dynamics. We should fall into a substitution trap here. Yes, they will synergise and complement each other in more ways than we have seen till now.

Q. Doesn’t this create constraints of sorts when it comes to hiring and keeping top creative talent satisfied with primarily one kind of business?

Honestly, it does create constraints. However, we have seen that when people do come on board, they realise that it is an ad agency like they are used to working in – fun-filled, irreverent and high energy, and like any global network, highly connected across the globe.

Q. Innocean is a Hyundai-inclined agency. What is the kind of problem that this poses as a business model?

Most clients and talent tend to think we are a close-ended organisation. Hence, it does make us work doubly hard to convince our prospective clients and employees that we are a normal brand communications organisation with a worldview on the issues at hand and also their solutions. As a matter of fact, we are far more innovative in approaching solutions in a practical sense.

Q. Please tell us about the new businesses Innocean has won in the last 3-4 months?

In the last four months, we have launched for our client, Beam, their mobile payment system rather successfully. They have nearly achieved their fiscal target of 1 million subscribers by March-end 2010. Fena is readying itself to launch a host of new products, which it has assigned to us. Aureole Inspecs has given us a whole new canvas in terms of creating digital brand/ marketing initiatives. And we are working on some new models to be launched by our anchor client Hyundai.

Q. Being a mid-sized agency, how difficult is it to attract and retain top creative talent?

I have a strong view that today all agencies, regardless of their size and volume, suffer from a lack of talent within the industry. It is a problem faced by all and is only too evident in the way agencies try and make ends meet in terms of manpower needs. I think the bigger challenge is how to keep each one of us on the ball, open to change, and adapt our ways to the changing ways of the consumer.

Q. Innocean plans to have increased focus on sports marketing opportunities. What are your plans for this year?

Yes, we have been fortunate that our anchor client, Hyundai, has been using cricket as a mainstay of their communication initiatives. Our endeavour is to integrate cricket more strongly in our brand building efforts to increase the empathy Indians have with Hyundai. Innocean has a lot of experience leveraging sports and sporting properties as brand success multipliers for Hyundai and Kia. We have used FIFA rather effectively in Europe and tennis such as Australian Open and Fed Cup. As we progress, we will adopt them in India too. FIFA and soccer, as it gains traction in India, will see us trying our proven tools from European markets. Some of them will be used in 2010 as well.

Q. What was an Innocean billing in 2009? How much are you predicting in 2010?

In the year 2009, we touched a figure of Rs 160 crore. This year, we anticipate a growth of at least 20 per cent on the back of a strong economy and some more new business wins.

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