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Sam Balsara creates ‘competition’ for Madison, launches Platinum

01-February-2007
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Sam Balsara creates ‘competition’ for Madison, launches Platinum

Sam Balsara has always been synonymous with the Madison brand name. The Chairman of Madison Communications has assiduously built an agency network present in almost every segment of the advertising business under the Madison brand, spearheaded by Madison Media, the home-grown answer to the media behemoths with international tags. It now appears that the baron of Madison has other aces up his sleeve. He has just announced the floating of a new brand – Platinum – under his direct supervision. While Platinum has started its operations in the OOH domain, Balsara says this entity can pan across other domains.

As a substantial shareholder, he is the Chairman of both entities.

The first product under the Platinum brand is Platinum Outdoor. Balsara explained that things fell into place perfectly for this venture and that given the scope that outdoor had to offer, it made sense to begin with this segment. But there is more of Platinum to come. Said Balsara, “As and when we spot the right opportunity and people, we will enter other segments.”

Madison Communications comprises 10 units straddling media, creative, PR, outdoor, rural marketing, movie marketing and in-film branding, home shopping and retail branding, among others. Balsara said that Platinum could be expected to be present in all these segments.

Balsara has created a media empire in Madison big enough to attract the interest of many global media giants to take some, if not complete, control over the entity. If industry word is to be believed, such talks are still going on. Some of the names in discussions are the likes of Omnicom and IPG. Just to get an idea of the business, Madison Media alone has a billing of over Rs 1,000 crore.

So, is Balsara putting together a second brand just in case he decides to sell out Madison? He is not saying anything just yet.

Interestingly, Balsara is clear that Platinum would launch an agency only in those areas where Madison is already present. So, if he wants to enter a new area, for instance, direct marketing, it would be under the Madison brand name first.

Will these agencies compete with each other? “At one level, yes,” admitted Balsara, adding, “However, we have established a code between the two companies on poaching of people and new businesses to ensure smooth operations. The idea is that these structures will enable us to recognise and accommodate senior talent and handle different businesses.”

Another point that he stated was that the agencies from Madison and Platinum would not pitch for the same business. He said, “The CEOs of the two companies would decide on who would pitch for a business.”

Much of the operations in Madison and Platinum would be based on the created internal code. However, Balsara also clarified that depending on how things rolled out, the code would also evolve.

Be that as it may, with Platinum the industry does promise to be very exciting going forward considering that the Indian media guru has left many international giants far behind.

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