Digital is the fastest and most efficient way to activate conversation. If you want to be present in every minute in the lives of the consumers, then digital is the way to do that. Digital is so overwhelmingly present right now that it is difficult for somebody to reject that. Having said this, television, too, it is going to have a great year in 2010 and 2011. I do see the trend continuing and I see that the embracement is far more widespread now than it was a year ago.
Maria Luisa Francoli, Global CEO, MPG, was chosen to create a digital agency within Havas Media in 1997. Media Contacts today is a leading global interactive media network with 36 offices in 27 countries.
In 2003, Francoli was appointed CEO of what was then the Media Planning network, the largest division of MPG. She was appointed Global CEO of MPG in 2006.
She began her professional career in the US in the travel industry. She then spent four years in banking, concentrating on mergers and acquisitions and project finance till the end of 1993, when she joined MPG.
MPG anchors Havas Media with more than 100 offices and 4,000 people worldwide. A leading global media agency, MPG was founded in Spain in 1978 and is currently celebrating its 30th year of leadership in marketing communications.
In conversation with Noor Fathima Warsia and Robin Thomas, Francoli speaks at length about digital – what all it comprises, the technology and the medium, and the real rate of its adoption.
Q. What do you make of these conversations when it comes to actual applications on brands? People here are also saying that it is only one class of brands - the Cokes and the Reeboks of the world that have embraced digital, but the moment you go to the second tier, they are still questioning digital and are still cautious. Do you have a similar experience?
Yes! I must admit that now that I am living in the US, I am a little biased because in the US, the second tier is already embracing the digital. I think it is easier for brands to experiment. We had seen last year when the recession had hit hard. I think that brands were on one hand trying to be secure; and on the other hand, they were more willing to experiment, to accept and understand that if you want to join the conversation, which is something you need to do now, you need to be present in the digital.
Digital is the fastest and most efficient way to activate conversation. If you want to be present in every minute in the lives of the consumers, then digital is the way to do that. Digital is so overwhelmingly present right now that it is difficult for somebody to reject that. Having said this, television has had a fabulous year in the half of year 2009 and it is going to have a great year in 2010 and 2011 as well. I do see the trend continuing and I see that the embracement is far more widespread now than it was a year ago.
Q. From being a niche medium, today mobile has become a mass medium with various niches like augmented reality, social media on mobile, locative data and so on… How valid is the whole optimism around mobile?
It’s a good question, but I am afraid I don’t have the answer, because mobiles started a long time ago and there has always been optimism, however, it has never been materialised. It is growing no doubt, but it’s much slower than any other medium. I am optimistic and I believe that what you have here is going to do lot more for mobile. The iPad or Tablet PC, whatever form it is, I don’t think it’s going to be a mass device, at least in the coming 18 months. Perhaps after that it may become a mainstream device. I think this is going to do lot for mobile communication and for changing the mindset of both consumers and advertisers in terms of mobile communications. So, I think we will have to continue with our optimism, it will surely not fulfil in few a months, but eventually it will come.
Q. In the whole conversation on newer technologies, however, we are talking of enhanced technological world, something like the augmented reality. Are we creating a digital wall between the so-called connective audiences, wherein this audience is consuming five forms of media at the same time and the probably not so connected audience in a market like in India, where digital is still growing? Are we creating a digital wall rather than erasing the borders?
Well, I think to a degree yes. The more the people are digitally connected, the bigger is the gap with people who are not. Earlier, digital was expressed in a different way, now the biggest gap is the access to information and in the access to connectivity, and this is what technology has made possible.