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Mindshare’s Ashutosh Srivastava on the new agency model, the India ops & clients

03-August-2009
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Mindshare’s Ashutosh Srivastava on the new agency model, the India ops & clients

Mindshare is continuously working on establishing the new agency model that the officials at the agency believe would fill the need gap in the media services domain today. The objective is to grow the role of the agency beyond media planning and buying, and Ashutosh Srivastava, CEO, Mindshare APAC, who was in Mindshare’s India office last week, believes that the remodelling is on track and in sync with the expectations that the agency had on counts of the kind of work that is coming from the agency, and the interactions with like-minded clients.

In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media during his India visit, Srivastava spoke on the workshop that took place in Mumbai last week with the senior management team to take them through the different initiatives that can be undertaken for clients in the new Mindshare. He said, “Much has happened since last year, when the remodelling was announced, and now we are looking at how to manage the whole product, the talent and what kind of training to give them.”

The market need gap that leads to Mindshare’s next stage of evolution

Srivastava explained that at the core of this remodelling was a need gap in the industry, where media agencies continued to engage in the basic functions of planning and buying, and creative agencies continued creating communication without understanding how consumers were interacting with the various communication channels. While all the key stakeholders were on the same page of this gap, not much was being done to address it due to the sheer inertia from agencies to make the change. He was quick to add that there were exceptions to the situation, where clients drove the agenda and ensured a more collaborative work style between their advertising partners, but these examples were few and far between.

“For Mindshare though, because of our critical mass, the kind of clients that we have and the GroupM structure that enables its agencies like Mindshare to work and do business with clients, this really was the next level of evolution. We did not have to dismantle anything to create this model,” observed Srivastava.

This new model took the agency into marketing than just media planning and buying. The approach now was to get to the core of the brand’s need at the time, understand the cultural context, develop an idea around the key challenge, and generate talkability around the brand, through that idea.

“That is how word of mouth spreads, and that is more powerful than a 1,000 GRPs,” Srivastava asserted. “You need to understand the cultural context, get into categories and understand the journey that a consumer takes in any particular category. For instance, the consumer purchase journey for a soft drink is completely different from an automobile. You need to understand that and then figure out what needs to be said to get the consumer interested in the brand and through what channel, using ideas that allow you to generate that talkability,” he added.

It was also important to measure how many people are talking about the product and how it can be tracked. “So, there is the art of generating the idea and then the science in how the story should be told to consumers using different kinds of channels. Then it is about making hard choices, picking five consumer touch points instead of some hollow approach of a 360-degree plan,” continued the Mindshare APAC Leader.

India most aligned to the new structure

Having put the foundation of the discussion in place, Srivastava informed that the India operation of Mindshare was already working on the new model with like-minded clients. He said, “We had the maximum alignment from India when we had announced the new structure, and their question was how this could be implemented. The last seven to eight months have gone into the ‘how’ – which clients to pick up, training exposure, learning and so on. The workshop is to really take the team well into talking the new structure forward.”

“This new approach requires execution excellence, and to know which clients you would want to do this with was very important. One advice that we had for the Mindshare India team was to not work on this with too many clients. Clients have their own evolution too, and at this stage, this can be done with clients with whom the new approach would resonate. They may not even have the bandwidth if they tried this with many clients,” added Srivastava.

There are four kinds of client categories for Mindshare – those who wanted to buy the whole new approach end-to-end, those where clients wanted media agencies to work with creative agencies for channel understanding, and bring more science on how to bring the idea to life. The third kind were the clients that just needed tactical planning and using channels well and the last were those who just needed to buy the front page ads.

Srivastava said, “We are in the service business and we have to work on tapping on each of these clients. There has to be different structures in place to be able to handle these needs. In all, there is nothing right or wrong about this – the reorganisation is more to do with clients and not with Mindshare, and the India team understands that well.”

India was the third market in the APAC region to hold this workshop. Global Mindshare executive like Marco Rimini and Karl Cluck were in India for this workshop. Just prior to India, it was done in Singapore and the pilot of the workshop was done in Australia in June 2009. Srivastava said, “The leadership team has done a fantastic job in taking this forward here. At the workshop, the team was working on live cases. They came up with ideas, and worked out the plan on how to tell the story to the consumers. Even creative agencies would have been proud of some of the things that we saw.”

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