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Digitas India’s Kanika Mathur in conversation with e4m

16-June-2011
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Digitas India’s Kanika Mathur in conversation with e4m

Solutions, which was set up in 1995, became a part of the Publicis group in 2005. After the acquisition of Digitas by Publicis in 2005-06, Solutions got aligned to Digitas and became Solution Digitas. Stephen Beringer, President, Digitas International, announced on June 13, 2011, that Digitas India would now be separated from Solution Digitas, as a specialised digital agency. Solution Digitas in India will now become two separate yet complementary agency offerings, Digitas India and Solution India.

Kanika Mathur, President, Digitas India, talks about the recent separation of Digitas India from Solution Digitas, as a pure play digital agency, and what can be expected from both companies in 2011.

Why was the division needed?
Since 2008, two phenomenal growths were seen taking place in the industry. On the one hand, the marketing services section was growing very dynamically. On the other hand, the digital and CRM sector, experienced a phenomenal growth as well. The digital industry in India stands at Rs. 1200-1400 crore at the moment.

Digital itself has also grown over the last couple of years and is evolving. Now that it has come on its own, every brand and client wants a digital strategy. It is becoming critical for the marketers to get engaged on digital.

We offered both these services earlier, but there was always this question of whether we were a digital agency, or a marketing services agency.

This divide also serves as a branding strategy for us, where we define and clearly differentiate digital and direct marketing services. It was the right time to have two standalone agencies, with their own respective P&Ls.

But the digital and direct space in India has become very competitive too. There are many established players now. Can this segregation, and hence introduction of standalone brands at this stage, take them behind in the race too?
We both are still aligned to Digitas, and brand Digitas is the world’s number one CRM and digital agency. The fact is reiterated in the latest AdAge rankings. With the clients in India, now looking for latest digital strategies, we want to ensure that we offer pure digital strategies and cater to those clients better. Since we did not want to dilute direct marketing services, which itself is growing rapidly, we needed the division for digital. We are putting a structure in place that would have individual heads for both these brands but the top management is still unified.

Do we now see a new form of the company for the true manifestation of the divide?
The divide is already in effect and in a week’s time, people will see a new website for marketing services and digital, which will give a fresh looking and feel.

What do your existing clients feel about the divide?
The clients are quite happy with the division, as now they will see certain degree of focus and leadership coming in on both the sides. It is all about positioning and focus.

We have been very low-key as an agency, hopefully that will change as well. I think we have a point of view that is fairly significant in both these domains. So we will be focussing on moving forward in that direction now.

Tell us more about how you train people at Digitas in these areas?
VivaKi has a learning and development program and calendar for us. But to ensure that our teams our up to speed, we need to provide the leadership on the ground. To then ensure the delivery of our ideas, we take a few measures internally within the company as well as externally in relations to the clients.

Within our organisation, we run an initiative called ‘Digital Donuts’ in our café. It is run twice a week by leaders in the organisation. Workshops are conducted within it, to infuse our people with digital sensibilities by sharing case studies, latest happenings, trends and our point of view on the digital. It also has open discussions sometimes, on a marketing issue or brief, to engage the people within Digitas.

We have also built a very strong focus on driving leadership when we get briefs with clients. We would have a strategy person, a domain expert and some of the key leaders participating together in every brief, and coming up with a strategic overview for the client. So the client feels extremely comfortable with the whole process, as we are able to show them case studies, trends from around the world, and how things could pan out and what the measurements would be.

We also get senior leaders from the Digitas global to come down to India and talk with our key clients. In addition to that, we also have a small team in APAC which is committed to meet up with the clients and conduct training programs. You will see us doing a lot more this year, as we work more to grow Digitas in India.

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