Vijay Xavier heads the Chennai office of RK Swamy BBDO as Principal Consultant & Executive VP, where he handles brands such as Snickers and Pedigree Pet Foods. He has four decades of experience in the advertising industry.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Deepa Balasubramanian, Xavier shares pearls of wisdom from over 40 years in the advertising industry.
You have been in advertising for four decades now. How has your experience been?
When I entered the ad world, it was not a sought after profession at all. Later, with the entry of MNCs, people like us received the opportunity to survive, thrive and produce meritorious work. Of late, with the increase in internet penetration and 360 degree service, the scenario has changed completely. But completing 40 years in the advertising industry in 2013 is a great feeling.
How do you compare the work culture of agencies in the past with the present ones?
The advertising industry has significantly changed over the past few years. New agencies have mushroomed, especially mid-sized agencies that have been trying to make a mark in the market. The top agencies still are JWT, Lintas, O&M and McCann. Mudra is the only agency which came up later and has succeeded in the market. The departure of RK Swamy from JWT due to various reasons and forming of RK Swamy Associates, which later became RK Swamy BBDO, made it the only national agency which is headquartered in Chennai. Surviving in a market like Chennai is really difficult, though RK Swamy has been doing it very successfully.
What is your involvement in the day to day operations of the agency?
I work on protection of margins, find ways and means to add value to our clients to differentiate us from the competition, invest in intellectual work force that can engage clients productively and try to create outstanding work.
How important is digital marketing in today’s world?
Digital marketing is here to stay. Though it will not replace print or television for at least next 10 years, it will see significant growth in the advertising landscape. Social media again is very crucial for brands, because today the youth is always on the medium and looking for conversations to happen. Brands have to really explore this medium and make it effective.
What are the trends that you foresee in 2014?
There will be huge emphasis on revenues. Clients will become more and more demanding. The services for which clients pay for now will have to be provided for free. Only those agencies that go beyond the brief and provide value added services will survive. Knowledge upgrades will be essential in order to service clients. The ‘I-know-the-client-well’ approach will not work anymore, unless you deliver consistently.
What is the agency’s focus for 2014?
The focus will be on investing in people, revenue appreciation from existing clients, aggressive new business drive. We want to be rated as one of the best agencies that delivers full values to its clients and brings in healthy returns on their investment.