I think mobile, if you look at the distribution of availability and consumer usage, is all about being mass. It is not a new medium. It is an incredibly personal and highly relevant medium. It may be the number one medium, but as an advertising medium, it is still very much in its budding stage… In India, mobile phone penetration is very high, however, the number of smart phones is still very low. It is up to the industry to take note and say, sure there are smart phones, but the majority doesn’t use them, so what do we do about that?
Maarten Albarda started his career in advertising and spent 14 years working for (respectively) J Walter Thompson Amsterdam, Leo Burnett Amsterdam, Leo Burnett Regional Headquarters London, McCann-Erickson Regional Headquarters in London, and Universal McCann Worldwide, New York.
In 1999, he joined The Coca-Cola Company and moved to Japan to develop an integrated marketing communications structure to support planning and execution of the FIFA World Cup 2002 activation. After successfully completing this assignment, he transferred to Coca-Cola Germany in November 2002. As Director of Marketing Communications, he was responsible for all brand marketing communications across all brands. His responsibilities included advertising, media, interactive, sponsorship, events, and PR.
From October 2005, he joined The Coca-Cola Company corporate headquarters Global Marketing and Commercial Leadership group as Worldwide Director of Media & Communication Innovation.
Being given the opportunity to join the senior executive team at Anheuser-Busch InBev and help accomplish ABI’s goal of building ‘the best beer company in a better world’ was a rare and challenging opportunity. Based in New York since September 2009, Albarda has visited all top 10 ABI markets and started the process of developing strategic direction and capabilities covering media, sports and entertainment, digital, online, etc.
In this interview with Noor Fathima Warsia, Albarda speaks about connecting with the audience via multiple platforms and use of mobile for greater audience connect.
Q. Coming to the mobile medium, there are so many conversations about mobile that it is no longer niche – there is augmentative reality, there is social networking, there is locative data. What is your take on mobile? Are we being too optimistic about it once again?
I think mobile, if you look at the distribution of availability and consumer usage, is all about being mass. It is not a new medium. It is an incredibly personal and highly relevant medium. It may be the number one medium, but as an advertising medium, it is still very much in its budding stage.
In most markets, people do not have technology like 3G. At times, the industry in New York and West Europe thinks anything is possible because they have an iPhone and 3G. But the markets that have the most experience in My Network are the ones like Ukraine, which is because they don’t have Internet access everywhere as compared to other markets, but everybody has a mobile phone. And these are not the high-end handsets, just normal mobile phones. I think the mobile phone is still very basic at the moment. As a medium, we may deny it is there, but as an industry we haven’t the cracked the codes yet.
Q. All these forms of technology were so-called ‘diminishing the borders’, with whole concept of differences between audiences minimising. Somewhere do you think – like 3G and iPhone are doing well in one part of the world and not doing too well in another part – are we creating a digital wall?
Yes, it is like the digital haves and the digital have-nots. At the same time, in an under-developed market, they will have to build it in today’s perspective. What we have seen in some parts of the world, take Russia for example, where the mobile phones in use are well developed and of high standard. And we see how we can connect with people through the mobile medium.
In India, mobile phone penetration is very high, however, the number of smart phones is still very low. It is up to the industry to take note and say, sure there are smart phones, but the majority doesn’t use them, so what do we do about that? We can make meaningful connections with that audience if we are a super premium brand, but they have to use smart phones. So, we have to target to the audience. That’s why I had said that in mobile we have not really cracked the codes yet. But it is undeniably an important medium.