It’s been a year of big numbers for the Indian media & entertainment industry, from the reported Rs 15,000 crore spent by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on its General Election campaign to Flipkart being valued at over $10 billion after its latest round of funding. For its second quarter fiscal 2015, ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) declared advertising revenues of Rs 6,259 million, recording a growth of 7.3% over Q2FY14. And, despite stiff competition in the Indian smartphone market, Samsung Electronics continued to dominate with 24% market-share in Q3 2014.
After grabbing headlines consistently through the year, it’s no surprise then that Sam Balsara of Madison World, Piyush Pandey of Ogilvy & Mather India, Prasoon Joshi of McCann WorldGroup, Sachin Bansal & Binny Bansal of Flipkart, Punit Goenka of ZEEL and BD Park of Samsung India feature on the nominees list of IMPACT Person of the Year 2014.
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT MEN
The General Elections this year were no short of an entertaining drama. With three primary contenders, each of the parties went all out with their marketing blitzkrieg in their own way. While tight-lipped at the time, once Narendra Modi stepped up to take his place as the country’s new Prime Minister, the names behind the BJP’s high decibel campaign were officially out in the open. As Sam Balsara took charge of the party’s media duties, Piyush Pandey penned the iconic Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkaar and Janta Maaf Nahin Karegi catchphrases, and Prasoon Joshi wrote ‘Saugandh is mitti ki…’, an anthem for the BJP’s political campaign, the entire exercise developed a strong media and advertising industry connect. Talking of the campaign to the media, Balsara said, “What our campaign achieved is that it cost-effectively raised the pitch to a crescendo, constituency by constituency as polling day neared, which converted a communication task into what you in media call a ‘Modi Wave’ that resulted in a landslide victory for the BJP.” Pandey gives credit to the ‘product’, according to media reports: “The clincher of any campaign is the product. This one had a fantastic product in Mr Modi and that product knew its value and communicated to people what it stood for. Everything else was surround.” Joshi garnered several learnings from his experience of working on a political campaign. He says, “Working on political brands teaches you how party brands are different from consumer brands. If you take a consumer brand, the only voice the brand has is the one developed through its advertising. A political party is a living organism which is constantly communicating. Advertising can accentuate, add another dimension or capture the essence and that’s what our team did with the campaign for BJP.”
TAKING INDIA’S SHOPPERS ONLINE
What began as a mere online bookstore in 2007, started by ex-Amazon employees Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, is today India’s largest e-commerce player. Not only does Flipkart dominate the online shopping space in India, the unrelated Bansal boys are credited with helming the confidence in online shopping amongst Indians. This year the e-commerce company has constantly grabbed headlines for its multiple rounds of fat fundings and industry-first innovations. Recently, its Big Billion Day attracted flak from customers, a flame which was quickly doused by an intelligent PR move – a personal apology from the co-founders landed in every customer’s inbox. Nothing thaws an aggrieved customer like a brand owning up to its errors. “We were not adequately prepared for the Big Billion Day,” read the e-mail. Motorola, which was returning to the competitive smartphone market after a hiatus of almost two years, gained through its exclusive partnership with the online retailer for its re-entry. Last week, the mobile handset manufacturer announced that it had sold 2.5 million smartphones in India this year. In a country where trust in online shopping needed to be earned through the Cash on Delivery model, such a number in sales of mobile phones available exclusively online is indeed revolutionary. Flipkart soon pioneered the concept of online flash sales in India, and next to go the online only route was Chinese company, Xiaomi. In order to strengthen its fashion positioning, Flipkart acquired Myntra in an estimated Rs 2,000 crore deal in May 2014. “Flipkart and Myntra are getting together to create one of the largest e-commerce stories and together we will dominate the market,” Sachin Bansal told the media.
RUNNING AN ENTERPRISE, DRIVING CHANGE
He may be running a network his father owns - albeit one of the biggest in the country - but that doesn’t mean Punit Goenka sits snug with his silver spoon. After joining Zee TV in 2004 as a business head, Goenka took over as CEO in 2008. Today, ZEEL with a net revenue of Rs 227 crore in Q2FY15, offers 34 channels. The latest to join the arsenal was Zindagi, bringing Pakistani content to Indian viewers this year. The network is all set to launch yet another Hindi GEC in the last quarter of the current fiscal, with an estimated investment of Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 crore. With a strong foothold in the Indian market and a presence in 169 countries reaching over 670 million viewers, Goenka now has his eyes set on going global and reaching a billion viewers by 2020. This lofty vision was followed by a realignment in philosophy and the tagline ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ that was promoted when the network completed 20 years. “The Indonesian business is growing and we are happy with the progress. The focus is going to be in other geographies within South-east Asia. The next one planned is Thailand, followed by Vietnam. We already have a strong presence in the Middle East and will continue to consolidate the market. The new market we are proposing to look at this year is going to be multiple countries in Africa. That's the focus in the international business,” Goenka told Business Standard earlier this year. Apart from contributing to the industry through the network, Goenka also joined hands with other broadcasters to push digitization through the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF). In his role as Chairman of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), Goenka has been leading the initiative to create India’s very own architecture for computing television viewership ratings. “BARC is committed to building a Television Audience Measurement System that becomes the Gold Standard in its class worldwide. Given that BARC addresses a population of over 1 billion, of which over 0.6 billion have access to television in some form, I am confident that BARC will settle for nothing less than being the best,” said Goenka in a statement.
A SMARTPHONE FOR EVERYONE
BD Park was appointed the President & CEO of Samsung South West Asia Operations and MD, Samsung India Electronics in early 2012. Park is credited with revolutionizing the way mobile phones are sold in India. Way before pocket-friendly smartphones became the norm, Samsung India was the handset manufacturer that made it possible for Indians to experience Android at a convenient price. Park has helped Samsung retain its leadership position in the overall mobile market with a market share of 17%, remaining unfazed despite competition from Apple in the high-end category and indigenous Micromax in the affordable range. With innovative channel management and a customer-oriented approach, Park bets big on India becoming the next global factory overtaking China for Samsung. With ambitious targets set in place for India, Samsung continues with its slew of launches in 2014. The company is targeting over $10 billion in sales by the end of 2015 in India.
SO, WHO WILL WIN?
Each of the nominees has proved their mettle in several ways in 2014, making all of them top contenders for the title this year. “All the nominees have strong profiles and are illustrious personalities. After reflecting on it, I definitely support Punit Goenka. He’s a strong leader. The leaps and bounds by which the network has shown growth, he definitely deserves a lot of kudos for that. I would also root for Flipkart for the sheer amount of noise it has created for e-commerce. A few years back, none of us would have thought about e-commerce becoming so big. Not only in terms of attention but also actual volumes. All the innovations that Flipkart has brought to the table and gone on to be a clear leader, they deserve my vote as well,” says Anupriya Acharya, Group CEO, ZenithOptimedia. Nandini Dias, CEO, Lodestar UM, on the other hand, roots for Samsung's BD Park, and also Flipkart, which she terms a game-changer. On a concluding note, here is what NP Singh, CEO, MSM has to say: “There are six luminaries that have been nominated, my best wishes to each one of them and may the best man win.”