MindShare celebrated its 10th anniversary globally last year. In a conference in November 2007, the agency’s top chiefs from around the globe got together to chalk out the way forward. The outcome of this meeting was to reboot MindShare to make it future-ready and to bring it further in sync with clients’ expectations. Following this decision to restructure, the changes in MindShare India have already begun to take shape. As MindShare India officials put it, the simple objective of the move is to give the clients what they want, and to move towards 100 per cent accountability.
The key divisions in the rebooted MindShare are ‘Business Planning’, ‘Inventions’ and ‘Exchange’. The fourth division, ‘Client Leaders’, stitches up these three functions and works together with the clients to offer the full value chain, based on the client’s individual requirements. In short, client specific teams are formed that are supported by expertise that has been created on the basis of identifying clients’ needs and queries, and addressing these specifically in a step-by-step format.
The Client Leaders is the team that would finally be interacting with the clients, and the three divisions would be to support them in these interactions. Hindustan Unilever already has its own independent team, headed by Sudipto Roy as GM. Clients like PepsiCo, United Breweries and ICICI also now have client-specific teams. PepsiCo team’s GM is M K Machiah; UB team’s GM is Subramanian Swaminathan, while ICICI Mumbai operation’s GM is Jai Lala.
MindShare India MD R Gowthaman explained, “Clients today expect simplified, valued added offering. They want ideas, analysis and then the transaction exchange. We have divided these needs into questions, which form the complete value chain, and our divisions are based on this.”
The first four key questions for the client are – what is the right money; the right return; the correct target audience; and the relevant market. The Business Planning division looks to answer these questions.
Gowthaman said, “The kind of work that we have done in the last few years – whether in the form of sales response modelling or econometric modelling or market mix modelling – has given us the confidence of being able to answer these questions. We have done over 150 models across 25-30 categories. On the points of right audience and market, MindShare launched a unit called 3D five years back, the basic function of which is to look beyond the basic traditional definitions that we have of consumers today, to get sharper segregation of target groups in various psychographic and demographic.”
The second set of questions is the right channel and right idea. This is where Inventions comes in play. The responsibility of this division is to suggest an idea and an appropriate channel mix. “Our experience has been that just about every medium by itself is diminishing in its effectiveness. Television, print, OOH, radio, even newer media, are all the same – there is a year-on-year decline on what they deliver. We have to look at alternate channel options to meet the clients’ needs today, and these would vary depending on the client,” elaborated Gowthaman.
He further said that a crucial and recurring problem here was that largely the creative communications between various mediums were not connected. “Since we know the consumers better, we should be able to give a channel neutral idea – one spark that can be taken across various mediums, and every medium would have a certain objective in that mix. These ideas are required at this point in time, and this is where Inventions, which is a channel neutral division, comes in. In this division, we have a mix of people who are experts on all mediums,” Gowthaman added.
The third is the Exchange division. “The brand is interacting with the consumer, and they are constantly exchanging something. This division is a set of people who would understand the way the consumer engages with the brand, and the part that a particular media plays in the complete process. The Exchange division would put a rate behind these channels, and each medium would have a certain role. This team comprises people who interact with the media owners on what they want for the money they are given – it could be spots or content or advertorials. This allows us to move to platform-agnostic discussions with media owners,” he explained.
Finally, someone needs to stitch up these divisions for the client. “Depending on the client’s needs, we can give them the full value chain,” Gowthaman said.
He divulged that the objective was to get client-specific teams for as many clients as possible. “I would be happy if we can even do it for the top 20 by the end of this year. This way of working means moving away from the traditional form of planning. This creates a lot of new scope of work with our clients, and we have to now get our clients to align with this,” he added.
He informed that the feedback so far had been positive as most of the clients had always wanted this in some form or the other. “The fundamental point is that the current definitions of planners and buyers are very inward looking. All our interactions with clients have told us that they want simplified offerings. With this, we are giving the clients what they want,” he added.
Gowthaman makes no secret of the fact that this task is not a simple one. However, he is confident that this would breed a fresh line of thinking in the media agency side of the business, where the move was to be a “business partner”. MindShare is moving in that direction already, and this step further narrows the distance.