We are aware that the clients’ expectations are changing. Keeping this in mind, we need to diversify into new media offerings and allied services… The future does belong to the digital world and the pioneers in this field today will be the rulers of tomorrow. Triton has set in motion a quiet internal revolution and will soon be ready to make our presence felt either with home grown talent or through an M&A.
With over 30 years in the business of advertising, marketing and
communications, Munawar Syed specialises in Account Planning and has rich
experience in working on a wide spectrum of Indian and international
brands. Along with Ali Merchant, Syed is the founding partner of Triton Communications, the largest non-aligned advertising agency in India.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri, Syed traces the journey of Triton over two decades, the importance of digital and where the advertising industry is headed today
Q. Triton was started back in 1991. How has your partnership stood the test of time and how has the journey been through the two decades?
Partnerships succeed when each leverages the strength of the other and more important, steps in whenever assistance is required. Each partner has to provide the other with their own space in all aspects of work. Be it in allocating responsibility and accountability with regards to clients, branch offices or associate companies. This is possible only if the communication channels are open at all times and the partners team up as one on all key policy issues. Above all, we attribute our successful partnership to our common goal of ‘Growth for our clients’.
The journey has indeed been an interesting one. We have grown to become the largest privately held Indian communications agency. Over the two decades, Triton has enjoyed a successful run in partnering its clients in launching, building and nurturing some of the leading brands in the country across diverse categories.
Q. You have been closely involved in building brands like Moov, Wagh Bakri, Fortune, etc. What is the plan for building brand Triton as ‘the agency of the future’?
I do not wish to lose too much sleep over the future, as a song from the 70’s reminds me to ‘Forget about Domani, for Domani never comes’. However, with our ear constantly on the ground and an eye on the horizon, we are able to enjoy today’s exciting times yet evolve to meet changes expected in the future. We are a pragmatic team and you will know how we stay relevant as our plans unfold.
Q. Triton has kept a low-profile all along. Can we expect any change in strategy in the future?
We have always let our work do the talking for us. We have done path breaking work on a continuous basis, but never gone to town talking about it. In the current scenario, it has become a norm to get written about, irrespective of the quality of the end product. We will not be as silent as before. Having said that, we will talk about our work only if it has added value to our clients.
Q. What was the rationale behind the change of guard carried out at Triton recently, and what are your focus areas now?
Each span of a business is akin to a relay race. Ali Merchant and I started out carrying the baton for the early part of the race. Now is the moment to pass it on to Renton D’Sousa , who is an experienced advertising professional and a Tritonite for over 10 years. He is full of energy and has the ability to win Gold for Triton.
The equity of the company continues to be held equally by AY Merchant and myself. Our focus will be on designing company policy, implementing and monitoring long term growth, ensuring financial health, and being available to all our clients at all times to ensure they are getting the best from Triton.
Yes, we have been steering for so long that it will take some doing to reinvent ourselves.
Q. With the slowdown in Indian economy, what has been the impact on the advertising business?
Every few years there is a slowdown in the economy, which forces the advertising industry to conduct a reality check on itself. At most ad meetings we hear gripes and moans about the difficult times, what with static budgets and delayed payments from clients. Yes, the sentiments are low, but the reality is different. We Indians love griping, but we are a resilient lot and know how to survive even in bad times.
Today, most businesses are operating on a Hi Volume - Lo Price - Hi Value equation and the advertising industry, as their communications partner, must reflect the changed dynamics.