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Media agencies need to collaborate in interest of doing a better job: Sam Balsara

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Media agencies need to collaborate in interest of doing a better job: Sam Balsara

The inaugural Media Review presented by the Advertising Club Bombay saw a packed housed. Sam Balsara, Chairman and Managing Director, Madison Communications, made a case for the media industry. Although he did trace the rules, he gave its progressive implication in today’s adverting world. So instead of a Review, Balsara preferred to call the session a ‘Proview’.

Balsara in his address drew attention to the fact that the rate of change of advertising was accelerating and how media had indeed arrived. Underlying this change is the fact that advertisers and marketers are becoming fiercely competitive.

Drawing parallel with the way the creative function had evolved over the years, he said, “Like how thinking in the creative area has moved from USP to positioning to consumer insight, media has moved from reaching numbers to CPTs, reach /frequency, duplication and GRPs, but must now move on to the task of finding and reaching customers for their clients, using media insight.”

Speaking about the bundling back of media, Balsara quoted Sir Martin Sorrell by saying, “Media bundling was driven by clients and markets, which wanted greater focus on media,” and for greater appreciation the need was for greater collaboration for creative and media, and not for bundling.

Another point that the communication expert made was about innovation and the role it played in creating newer ways. He also pointed out that media agencies should come up with genuine innovations that added value to both parties – media owners as well as advertisers. The examples that he quoted included BPL’s replay bug, and Shanti.

In the capacity of a judge on the Media Jury at Cannes Lions 2005, Balsara picked 15 of what he thought were outstanding advertisements out of the 1,100 entries received at Cannes this year. This showed the audience global thinking on what was considered outstanding in the media area.

The creative work showcased included MediaCom Israel’s work done on P&G’s washing machine, which won a Grand Prix. Then there were the Salvation Army ad, Adidas, Daimler Chrysler, Chevrolet, Pontiac G 6 car, Campbell’s tomato soup, Shoe Shop, Knorr Soup, MediaCom India’s entry for Emirates, among others.

Balsara also threw light on how the technology and future were threatening to run our world topsy turvy. He shared the findings of an informal survey he had done amongst industry stalwarts, representing media, agencies and advertisers.

The most important and cherished part of the address was when Balsara presented his 12-point plan to strengthen the media function. Wherein he spoke about:

People – the importance of ensuring steady stream of new entrants with certain abilities.

Commercial – everybody’s interest would be better served, if media agencies looked upon themselves as professional consultancies rather than business. He said that media industry was a young industry and hence, should be built on sound footings. “So let’s have the courage and guts to demand our price”.

Media Agency Remuneration – a case made to advertisers for re-looking at media agency remuneration. He said that “we started with a low base using a western model and applied the same percentages used in a market of Rs 860,000 crore to a market of Rs 10,000 crore”.

Rates vs Value – Balsara made a case in Rates vs Value for moving the obsession of buyers and advertisers from rates to value. He said that in a time of media proliferation, focusing on rates would not serve the advertiser’s purpose.

“It’s no good, if I can’t measure it” – Balsara urged media planners to adopt a holistic view using both quantitative and qualitative parameters.

Collaborate – where he advocated media agencies to understand and appreciate related disciplines of DM, PR, in-film, rural and collaborate among themselves to establish healthy business practices.

Rediscover – media planners would have to find ways of doing things faster, better, cheaper and more accurately and more innovatively. If not, then media boutiques will spring up on the lines of creative boutiques.

If it’s Safe, It’s Risky – he insisted the audience to take risk and indicated that rich pay offs only come up when you are buying anticipated performance.

Responsibility to advertiser and media – Media agencies must show to advertisers the importance of media in achieving their corporate goals and sensitise media owners to advertiser’s concerns and goals.

Multi media – according to Balsara, a multi media plan worked much better than a single medium plan however cost effective the latter might be.

Media Planners must consume Media – he insisted that media planners regularly watched television, read newspapers, and listened to radio, which would enable them to do their job better.

Media sellers must track the ‘pull’ of a campaign in their medium – whilst media selling had grown as a discipline, it must now evolve to the next stage wherein a campaign is tracked in terms of impact when it appeared in one’s own publication or channel.

Al in all, the first ever Media Review managed to set the right tone for years to come and was greatly appreciated by the advertising / media fraternity.


Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

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