Continuing with the focus on the economic slowdown and its impact on the advertising industry, in this second part, exchange4media turns its attention on the media agencies. As in the case of the creative agencies, media agencies, too, have taken a cautious approach towards hiring, but there have been no firings, yet.
Giving her perspective, Anita Nayyar, CEO, MPG India, said, “I think most of us are being very careful about new hires, however, replacements are being hired as usual.”
As the overall financial year has seen good growth and with the allocated marketing budget for the financial year almost spent, the slackening is more of a concern for the approaching financial year. Sudha Natrajan, COO & Joint President, Lintas Media Group, commented, “This year has been good for us, so the slackening of economy and job cuts is not a concern for us now. Also, we don’t have any diktat on job freeze and we will be building resources in accordance with our business requirements.”
Media agencies are probably being more selective about new recruitments, but they are unanimous on the feeling that there is no panic in the industry yet and definitely no insecurity among people regarding their jobs. R Gowthaman, Leader, Mindshare, South Asia puts it aptly as taking the ‘cautious optimism’ approach as he feels that the Indian market will recover much faster than any other market that has been hit. He added, “Only if this trend continues to till April next year, then we will be in a difficult situation. In our minds, we are clear that the ad rates will not be growing at the rate similar to what we have seen in the early part of this year. Hence, when we draw plans for the next year, we have to keep contingencies in mind and take an additional variable of slowdown in mind.”
Tough times call for tough measures, but job cut is definitely not on the agenda of many of the players. Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, said, “Only certain sectors are hit in India by the slowdown, but I don’t see retrenchment happening in the distant future. If we were to do cost cutting, I would prioritise by first tackling the high rentals on the property that we pay, second would be to find ways to optimise budget allocated for research, and then look at cutting costs on recruitments. But I believe that situation is not as bad as it is made out to be.”
A sentiment, which is emphatically advocated by Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group, South Asia. He said, “I strongly feel that we are making the situation to be worse even though the dark clouds are somewhere in the distance. It would be better to manage this gloom and look at opportunities that these times provide. For one, I feel this is the best time to try out new enterprise and also fail, as failing in boom time could be bad, but there is nothing to lose during a slowdown. This is also a time to focus on customers so that we instil confidence in the existing ones and reach out to those who have future potential.”
Gowthaman noted, “Accountability becomes fundamental and all the more important now. There is a lot more questions on the potential of ROI. I guess the focus should be less clutter, reducing decay, less intrusive and taking the approach of being more TG specific and sector specific.”
On the talent front, the slowdown is also being viewed in the positive sense and there is hope that it will be easier to retain talent as people will be less willing to move.
MPG’s Nayyar added here, “While the talent crunch continues, but over the last few weeks there are more CVs available in the market. The need to hire people is an ongoing process and the talent crunch makes it difficult.”
Offering his take on this, Ravi Kiran said, “There is no fear of job among people who have delivered in the past. In the Asian market, ‘employees’ are cautious of where they are joining and the preference is obviously to join well established brands. Also, the popular sentiment is to stay with the loyal employer, hence there is hope that we will see less flirtations with the job during this time.”
The meltdown: Time for the dreaded pink slip in the advertising industry? – Part 1