It is just his third week at work and Universal McCann’s recently appointed President APAC, David Morgan, is busy acquainting himself with the Universal McCann’s offices and clients in Asia. Currently in India, Morgan spoke on the areas that he thought Universal McCann had scored with the strength of Lodestar in India, the areas of concentration and the intention of launching the global brand philosophy soon that would govern the approach to work.
At the centre of it all, according to Morgan, was the key objective to bring value to clients. “That is what my focus, working with Nick and rest of the global teams, would be. We have to reinforce the difference that we make to our clients,” he said.
Speaking on the India affair, where the group has a unique situation of a merger with Lodestar and the merged entity – Lodestar Universal – Morgan said, “I think Lodestar Universal today, in a manner of speaking, embodies the overall thought process of Universal McCann. We are not in media planning and buying. True traditional media is at the core, an expected norm where one has to plan, buy and execute exceptionally well but that is a small part of what our business interest can now be.”
Morgan stressed on engagement being the name of the game in the process of building brand equity. He observed, “Engagement has become the in-word, but that is in fact what everyone is aiming at. The positive aspect about an entity like Lodestar Universal is that the agency has been able to use innovation to take engagement one step further. We may not be number one agency but we are ahead of the curve in many ways.”
One of the significant developments that can be expected from Universal McCann is the global unveiling of a new brand philosophy. Morgan explained that this philosophy was a positioning approach to planning, to communications thinking and engagement and one about taking traditional media and all the other resources available to the agency and breaking it down to carve out guidelines. He explained that the philosophy would reflect in the Indian market as well.
Continuing on the “engagement” road, he also said that youth media consumption patterns had changed rapidly and one of the fallouts would be news mediums gaining ground in the next five years. He said, “It is very easy to try and be something that one is not. Digital is the buzz word in most markets. In India, traditional media may still be domineering and it may not be appropriate on a particular time to dabble much with new media, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t keep an eye on what is the next change – the next big thing.”
An area that Morgan believes Universal McCann offices would continue intensely concentrate on is gathering insights to understand consumers and educate clients. “Life is moving rapidly, the digital evolution, shifting media consumption patterns and the coming of new ways of communicating mean that you should expect a change in your consumer before it sets in them completely.”
He identified routes like programme generation, branded content and the need to think integrated solutions as the road ahead. “Clients are increasing investments in experiments, whether it is in the digital space, ambient media or any other mediums. Going forward, maybe we wouldn’t say any new mediums are coming up already, but we will see these routes being understood and handled better,” Morgan said.
Speaking on the Lodestar Universal merger, he said, “I see this merger as a critical part of Universal McCann’s growth in a market that is exceptionally important. Universal McCann was facing problem in India and with Shashi’s (Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal) team, we are much steadier here and that is very important.”
On a wider note, he said, “The ultimate aim is how we contribute to Universal McCann as the APAC partner of the global network. For me, at present, Universal McCann is an opportunity. We have great group of people and now we have to bring regional connectivity and make the network more functional. There was cohesion for some time due to lack of leadership, but I can already see value come back from what we are doing. I am looking forward to road ahead.”