In recent times, there has hardly been an advertiser or agency that hasn’t mentioned the importance of the Indian market. However, Lowe Worldwide’s top management is convinced that Lowe India has quite a lot that can be taken to the other Lowe offices. Tony Wright, CEO, Lowe Worldwide, expressed that one of the agendas of the Worldwide Board meeting, held in Mumbai from November 15 to 17, 2005, was to extend the Indian example to other markets.
The key officials of the group’s management, including the likes of Edward Powers, COO, Lowe Worldwide, have spent three days in the country and the team appears bullish about the road ahead. The importance that Wright, as leader of this team, has placed on the Indian market is obvious from the fact that Lowe India is one of the ‘Lighthouse units’ in the new structure. But for Wright, there is a lot more to take from India.
“One of the things we actually did at this board meeting is used India as an example to some of the other markets, about some of the ways in which we can grow,” said Wright, “Particularly in China, which is the other market clients are obsessed with. There are a lot of things we have done in India that have applications in China, for instance, the notion of how to reach rural consumers. We plan to take these initiatives to grow in the other markets.”
Prem Mehta, MD, Lowe India added, “One of the most important things about this meet has been the discussions and deliberations of the initiatives that we have taken in the Indian market. Whether it is the focus on integrated marketing solutions by IMAG, the way businesses are set up in untapped areas of communication or other such non-traditional ways of reaching the consumer – we have taken these examples, that are unique to India at present and shared them with the other ‘Lighthouse’ leaders. Discussions on how and where they can be used have taken place and what we can do to strengthen these operations comes through too.”
As is known, Lowe Worldwide has restructured its network into a Core Global Team, where the entire world is clustered into 12 Lighthouse units. Each of these units will manage countries in their areas of influence. Lowe India covers Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Core Account Teams will service global clients like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Novartis, General Motors, Electrolux, Nokia and so on.
While there are quite a few things that Wright has identified as problem areas or ‘development gaps’, there are three key points on which action has already commenced.
The first was seen with the change in the structure and the ‘Lighthouse’ model came in place. Highlighting the benefits of the new structure, Wright said, “It has helped us remove layers of bureaucracy. We have taken out people who weren’t running offices or working with clients. The line of communication is faster now. This doesn’t necessarily mean we make right decisions, it just means we make the wrong one more quickly! Prem (Mehta) and I have a direct relation now and so I’m well in tune with what is going on here and he has instant access to me if he needs my thoughts on something. This is just responding to the clients needs to take action very quickly now.”
The second is introducing a ‘Communication Planner’. According to Wright, agencies had still not been able to figure out the right way by which they can provide total communications solutions to their clients.
Explaining more on this concept, Wright informed, “In some of our offices, where we are doing communications planning in an interesting way. The idea is that different functions need to be connected and so the communications planner understands the media environment and he is compensated by a fee arrangement that isn’t connected to the outcome. We are still figuring out a way in which we can do this in India as well. This way one person will be able to give the client a complete solution, rather than the client putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together.”
Yet another thing that Wright divulged was that the group was trying to get groups of people around the network together. “How a traditional agency worked is that the idea is developed in New York and London and the job of the other offices is to basically interpret that idea for other markets,” Wright said, adding, “What we are trying to do is to work as a Network right from the very beginning and put groups of people across markets to work together to develop ideas. From what we have tried so far, this is working very well.”
For Wright, a board meet in India was “an important symbol to colleagues in India and to the rest of the world, that India is a very important place for Lowe.” The new management has brought quite a few changes in ways, and if examples like OMO and Surf from Levers and Stella Artois are anything to go by – one can bet that Lowe officials will have more case studies to show in days to come.