“I have been an expat since I was five!” quipped Matt Seddon, soon to be CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi India, when exchange4media asked him about the potential challenges he is likely to face given that the Indian advertising industry tends to favour those who understand the culture and sensibilities of this market. While Seddon has worked on global brands such as from P&G, this is the first time he would be working in India.
But a challenge such as this is not new for Seddon, who has worked across markets in Asia. Before the India mandate, he was with Saatchi & Saatchi Philippines. In about a month’s time, Seddon would have moved base to Mumbai. “With a lot of travel to Delhi,” he added, pointing out the growing importance of Delhi as a market.
And this is not the only aspect that Seddon has clarity on, when it comes to what would serve as growth drivers for Saatchi & Saatchi’s India operations.
Seddon admitted that there is room for improvement in the overall Saatchi & Saatchi delivery in India, both in terms of the creative output and business growth. He said, “My goal is to raise the overall output. India is a very important market, and Saatchi & Saatchi needs to be strong in this market and be at the forefront of being someone who brings the best ideas here. At the end of the day, this is an ideas and people business, and ideas can come from anywhere – they cannot be hindered by lack of very strong performance, and for us that is the opportunity.”
Seddon’s plans for India operations begin with team building. “The underlying principle for us is -- one team, one dream,” said Seddon, and added, “I have met the management team and most others in office in the last few days but as we move forward, the intention is to understand individual skill sets and what the teams are interested in, and accordingly reorganise the structure that would adapt to the creative development process.”
Saatchi & Saatchi global is looking to invest in India to up the agency’s market share. Apart from investing in team building, acquisitions are also key on the agency’s radar to up its presence in India. Seddon said, “There is a whole gambit of services that can be offered to clients today. But the way we want to approach it is to keep the idea at the centre of the offer. We want to tell the client what the best creative solution for them is and then take that idea across to different media –TV, print, radio, OOH or digital – in a relevant and effective manner.”
While some services Saatchi & Saatchi India would look to work with its network agencies like Digitas or the media agencies or with other third party agencies, some it would develop in-house. Needless to say, digital capabilities come in the latter pocket. Seddon said, “We need to become digital by nature. We have to start thinking digitally because that is where all media and all communication is headed.”
Over the next couple of months, Seddon’s agenda includes not only meeting Saatchi & Saatchi clients, which also includes the agency’s global clients that work with Saatchi & Saatchi in India but also explore opportunities, where the agency’s global relations can take some form in India too. As Seddon puts it, there is a lot to do in India, and his India stint has only just begun.