Nick Emery was recently given the charge of leading Mindshare globally as its CEO. As he dons the new role, he speaks to exchange4media on the key role that India has always played in growing Mindshare as an agency of global repute. He reasserts that India would continue to be a market of strategic importance for Mindshare’s three pillars – data, mobile and social. India has already been the hub for data for the last decade. It has now been made the mobile hub too and will play a key role in Mindshare’s evolving social initiative, where Emery expects planners to be more like journalists, following a story 24 hours.
In this conversation, he also speaks on markets of focus for Mindshare in 2012. Excerpts:
Congratulations on the new role – how long has this been in the pipeline?
It has been in the pipeline for some time now. We observe great care in taking decisions such as these, both from our people and from our clients' point of view.
The worldwide role is not new to you, considering you have been a leader in Mindshare’s worldwide team responsible for the strategic direction of the company. But as you don the role of the global CEO, what are some of the first things that make it to your immediate agenda?
It really is following a continued agenda. Mindshare has always been about innovation and change. We welcome the changing habits in marketplace, and work towards leading these changes. The agenda would continue to pursue development in the areas of data, technology and content and do it with aggression. Most other agencies would have a similar agenda but the difference is of attitude and speed to market, and that has been Mindshare’s forte.
The India Mindshare team just saw a significant change in its leadership – APAC has seen the formation of a new role. In a sense, Dominic Proctor has moved into a newly role and so has Irwin Gotlieb. Is this is a sign of changing times and changing expectations of marketers from their agencies?
In terms of India, it is an evolution because we have always had such fantastic talent there right from Ashu (Ashutosh Srivastava) to Vikram (Sakhuja) and G’Man (R Gowthaman) and now Ravi (Rao). But on an overall level, yes, these are changes that reflect the changes in marketers today. Marketers have moved away from just focussing on media efficiencies to using all channels and all screens in a much more holistic manner. There is a shift in the marketing community, where whenever there is any communication or marketing led problem that arises, the first port of call is to an agency like Mindshare. Marketers have begun to see us as the spine of their operations. Our ambition is to be involved from the beginning of the process, understand real time data and help our clients’ businesses become more profitable.
In addition to working with content teams within the agency, we also work with other industry partners such as game developers, teams in content industries such as movies and television and work out relevant and path-breaking solutions that will strengthen the relations of our clients with their consumers. While our job is to master algorithms, inventory and trading, it is also to add new opportunities for our clients and in fact be a product development team for them. The new opportunities can be alternate revenue streams or content ideas but in this overall process, our job is not only to create space for our clients and give them time to breathe, but also create something meaningful for them and their businesses.
What are some of the markets of focus in 2012 for you?
Broadly Asia would continue to be a market of significant focus. We are a global company that is proud to have launched in Asia, and then expanded to markets such as Europe and North America. Last year, we changed our global Executive Committee to make sure India and China were well represented in addition to other markets on the global board. In that sense, we are much more geographically balanced in comparison to our competitors, who are still dependant on markets in Europe and US for their growth.
Do the conversations of a slowdown in India and China worry you?
We are seeing some slowdown but they would still be markets of growth. It won’t change our focus on India and China.
Mindshare has recently announced that India would be the Mobile Marketing Centre of Excellence – what is next we can expect on that front and are there other such areas where you see India contributing to Mindshare globally?
Data, mobile and social will be the three key pillars for our Network in its way forward. A decade ago, we had set up Meritus as our data hub in India and now India is the centre for our mobile offering. This reiterates how important India is to us as a strategic market. India and China have been able to challenge market conventions. At a global level, we have to continue to innovate and there is significant part of that coming from India. Our social initiative is evolving and that is bringing changes to planning, so that our planners become more like journalists. They have to follow a story 24 hours a day to reflect the changes in the story. India is a very important market on many factors that contribute to Mindshare’s global future.
The Unilever pitch was announced earlier this year and the responsibility of the pitch would be a lot greater now, given that you are leading the agency per se --- does this add to the pressure?
No. I believe that the work we do for Unilever is the best in class, across our markets. I have immense confidence in our teams and so, it does not add to any pressure.