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The value factor of expats in Indian advertising - Part 1

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The value factor of expats in Indian advertising - Part 1

Expats working in India is not a new phenomenon, what is new is the increasing presence of expats in the Indian advertising industry. exchange4media takes a look at the recent additions from foreign shores and how they have been faring and thriving in a challenging market like India.

Recently, JWT announced its decision to bring on board Adrian Miller at its Chief Creative Officer based in Delhi. Miller was till recently the ECD of Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, this is not a first for JWT to rope in an expat to helm its creative, which had seen Bruce Matchett as the agency’s NCD. Miller comes with an enviable repute of having twice had work ranked in the top 10 of the Gunn Report. Campaigns he has led, have won numerous awards at major international award shows. It makes one think about what is the value that an expat brings that gets him the coveted position in one of leading advertising agencies in India.

Charles Cadell, CEO, Lowe Lintas, put it succinctly, “Given the winds of change that are blowing, an expat brings in a clarity driven by an outside perspective on what we are, combined with a point of view on what we might become.”

Also, the fact that most of the expats have rich experience of diverse markets helps when applying it to a fast developing economy like India. Max Hegerman, President, Tribal DDB India, who has spent more than a decade in the digital space in the US and in China, where he was integrating digital capabilities into traditional agencies, said, “I have a pretty good understanding of where the digital space has been, how it has grown in other major markets and how to leverage that in order to grow a digital advertising agency in India. I believe, Madhukar Kamath understood that when he and I began our conversation about the leadership role at Tribal DDB India. For me, I feel like I am at the right place at the right time and hoping to make a difference.”

Les Margulis, who was till recently, was President of RK Swamy Media Group, too, had consulted or ran agencies in the US, Australia, Romania, Israel, Russia, Ukraine, UAE and South Africa. He felt that the broad experience base allowed him to bring together the world’s best ideas to support the clients in India. He said, “If you have worked only worked in India, then your experience is very narrowly developed as you have been exposed to only one set of learning. I suggest, therefore, that every major media agency have one expat in its management team, as they do in Russia.”

With such diverse experience it explains why JWT brought in Adrian Miller. As Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, put it, “Adrian’s track record is impeccable, and with him on board, he would infuse a fresh sensibility to creative output coming out from JWT India, thus giving a re-look and reinvent the brands that we work on. Earlier, India could not really afford an expat, but because of JWT’s scale and style of operations, it allows us to take such steps.”

(The second part of this report will appear tomorrow.)


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