Advertising Interviews

Mauricio Sabogal

Global CEO | 26 Apr 2013

If you are talking about digital or traditional, you are obsolete; today everything is holistic. When consumers are exposed to different messages, they don’t think ‘now I’m going to watch traditional’ and ‘now is my time to watch digital’. They just watch. They are just impacted. It is all about how to be efficient to reach the consumer and to influence the consumer.

Mauricio Sabogal, Global CEO, Brand Programming Network (BPN), was in India on his maiden visit after taking charge of IPG Mediabrands’ third media agency in June 2012. Sabogal, who was earlier President of World Markets at IPG Mediabrands, sees India as a market with huge potential, and among the top three markets for BPN. He also views media as a holistic proposition with digital technology at its core. Here are excerpts from a conversation Mauricio Sabogal had with Srabana Lahiri of exchange4media:

Q. BPN was launched on the promise of agility, creativity and understanding of new avenues like the digital medium, branded content, mobile telephony, etc. What does the report card look like on this front?

First of all, the position in the BPN house is radical common sense. In media today, the transformation is huge. More than being science with a lot of techniques, we bring in common sense. You buy media and you plan media using your common sense. Then you put in radical ideas - that is the key to success for a really modern agency, because at the end of the day, we are not buying media, we are buying touch-points. The consumer is acting in a totally different way compared to a few years ago, and we are changing the way we are approaching them. The idea of BPN is approaching the consumer with a really, really heavy load of innovations and ideas.

Q. What would be some of the radically new touch-points you just mentioned?

There are infinite touch-points today. Media is not anymore the Press or TV, media is satellite, radio frequency or cable and through those media, we receive all the platforms. You never know how the consumer is touched. Today, more than ever, media agencies are becoming important, because the advertiser can’t waste money by selecting the wrong touch-points. That is something we have to be very careful about.

Q. What is your sense of the market here - is there scope enough for three brands within IPG Mediabrands – Lodestar UM, Lintas Initiative and BPN?

The market has scope for four or five, believe me! At this moment, one of the particular cases is the market of airlines. In airlines, we are pitching right now on two parallel lines - we are pitching with Initiative for British Airways and with BPN for Emirates, and we are in conversation with many others. We are handling more than 10 airlines worldwide and that is happening with different industries. There is a lot of room.

Q. Why do you think marketers aren’t spending enough on digital these days?

I have a position on this, maybe a little different than the rest, as I don’t see a difference between digital and traditional. That’s gone. If you are talking about digital or traditional, you are obsolete; today everything is holistic. When consumers are exposed to different messages, they don’t think ‘now I’m going to watch traditional’ and ‘now is my time to watch digital’. They just watch. They are just impacted. So the most important thing is to spend in the way the consumer behaves, not necessarily digital or traditional, I don’t care about that. It is all about how to be efficient to reach the consumer and to influence the consumer. That is the big deal. Not if it’s totally traditional perfect, or if it’s totally digital perfect - if it is a mix, it’s perfect. It depends on the way the consumer is behaving and is impacted by the media.

Q. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has limited advertising to 12 minutes per hour of television programming – 10 minutes of ads plus two minutes of the channel’s own promos. As a media planner, what do you think of this considering the current situation in India, where some channels have up to 20 minutes of ads?

That is a most important decision the government had to take, to limit the clutter. The television viewer is watching programmes, not commercials. When you talk of a commercial break, you mean the shortest part of the programme, not the longest. You are not watching commercials with programme breaks, but programmes with commercial breaks. Secondly, it will regulate the quality of investment and improve the earnings for television. In India, this is specifically going to generate development of the radio. Looking at comparative markets, radio in India is really undeveloped, perhaps because of cost of licence, or skew towards television. Now, all those advertisers who cannot advertise on television will now go to radio, giving radio the scope to expand, to be more developed.

Q. What is your assessment of the India operations of BPN? How do you see BPN India contributing to BPN at the global level?

We at BPN are still a small entity. The advantage for India is that you are not starting as a big operation as in the US. India operations become very important for us, as we can keep growing the business. The business in India is going to be the second or the third largest operation within our network. I certainly see India among the top three markets. There are three markets that have a lot of potential – India, China and Brazil. India has an advantage in terms of education levels and English language speaking skills.

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