Advertising Interviews

Shripad Kulkarni

CEO | 03 Feb 2012

These are defining times for media AORs. While we are at the tipping point of digital media, convergence and 360 degree communication channel planning get any advertiser to talk and you will hear loud and clear ‘the industry is caught in a time warp’. So, the innovative ones will survive, the actions taken now will define the top players in the not so distant future.

With over 23 years in the media industry, Shripad Kulkarni has handled every aspect of the advertising media. During his tenure with agencies like Contract, Clarion and O&M, he has handled and helped build a wide spectrum of brands like Pillsbury Atta, Vicks, Hamam, Fevicol, Philips, Zandu Balm, Moov, Lexi Pens, Bank of Baroda, Sahara One, Johnny Walker and Kalnirnay, to name a few. He soon went on to establish his own media planning and buying agency. He later joined Carat India as COO.

Kulkarni is also known to be a renowned trainer. He has conducted over 200 workshops in Media Planning, Media Buying as well as Ad Sales. He regularly teaches management students at MICA and other institutes. He has also advised many a media in Strategy, Content and Ad Sales.

He is on the board of MRUC and heads its Technical Committee for India’s first outdoor Research survey IOS.

In this interaction with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri, Kulkarni shares the growth plans for Allied Media, new business management plans, tiding over slowdown periods and more...

Q. How was the year 2011 for Allied Media?

It was a fantastic year. Yet again we bucked the industry trend. We have achieved a 40 per cent growth over 2010 as per our latest figures.

Q. Which were the major wins in the year gone by and what were your total billings?

We are now operating at an annualised Rs 1,000 crore billing. Our biggest contributors are Panasonic and Future Group, Canon and a host of mid-sized clients who have grown exponentially. As such, our growth this year was a purely organic one, but backed up by the growing real estate, education and entrepreneurs from the North.

Q. Allied Media aggregated Rs 115 crore during the festive season of 2011. What led to this spurt? What growth percentage are you looking at in 2012?

The durables segment did expect a good Diwali and indeed it was so. This was the main reason for the growth this year. We have chalked out a new business and reputation management plan, which will unfold into an even higher growth next year.

Q. What would be the key growth drivers for Allied Media in the year ahead?

We will use the Percept pedigree in the 360 space to our fullest advantage. You will see some carpet bombing and some swift shock-and-awe operations from Percept Media in 2012.

Q. Post the tie-up with Point Logic, what have been the business gains? How is this tie-up strengthening Allied Media’s offering?

The M3 Model integrates Message, Media and Market Share into a unified software-based Decision Support System. We have now localised and fine tuned it for an Indian version. In Q1 of 2012, we will have a roadshow launching this in India.

Q. What are the emerging trends in the media planning and buying space?

These are defining times for media AORs. While we are at the tipping point of digital media, convergence and 360 degree communication channel planning get any advertiser to talk and you will hear loud and clear ‘the industry is caught in a time warp’. So, the innovative ones will survive, the actions taken now will define the top players in the not so distant future.

Q. In a market dominated by heavyweights like GroupM, Mindshare, Lintas, how is Allied Media holding its own?

The market is dominated by GroupM, Madison and ZenithOptimedia Delhi. In the next rung of agencies, we have been one of the fastest growing and the most efficient. The industry is caught in a time warp. And its advantage Percept Media, because we are not staid and not too young and are with the right momentum. Now we will take a shot at the top 3 position through a concerted new business development plan.

Q. Allied Media has been actively growing its Delhi office? Could you tell us about some of the steps taken in this regard and what has the business growth of the Delhi office been like?

We have now senior talent in Surbhi Chadda and Rashmi Ranjan Patnaik. We will soon split our Delhi operations into three independent units so as to give customised service to client segments. We have hired a crack team in Strategy and New Business Development, which will support the Business Teams.

Q. How did Allied Media tide over the previous slowdown period? How had the company fared then?

Frankly, we just calibrated our way through the maze of slowdown by concentrating on growth categories like real estate, durables, education and also nurturing the clients we won in the recent past.

Q. There is threat of another slowdown looming large. Are you seeing any impact of this in terms of ad spends and advertisers’ media buying and planning plans?

The slowdown is not of Indian making, but a manifestation of the global economic scenario. In many areas India is affected, but there are quite a few areas where we are bucking the trend. So we have to be smart at managing opportunities and threats; investments and costs. We will go ahead with our investment in technology and talent irrespective. We will smartly focus on the opportunities.

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