Goafest 2015 started with a series of knowledge sessions. The "Discovery Channel Industry Conclave" saw marketing heads from different sectors share their thoughts and experiences on the future of advertising and agency-client relationships.
Anand Kripalu, MD & CEO; Member Diageo Global Executive Committee, United Spirits, gave a 5 point presentation, titled 'A Vision Of The Future Anchored In Our Roots' on how brands and agencies should aim to move forward in a world that is increasingly getting fragmented. Before diving into his thoughts, Kripalu opined that even though the world is changing at an incredible pace, certain fundamentals of marketing still hold true. "I used to keep telling my colleagues that many functions have evolved but marketing is one function that has evolved the least. But in the last couple of years I have changed my way of thinking," he said.
The world is changing so quickly, he opined, that it has become impossible to predict the multiple ways in which this will occur. "Marketing teams have become leaner. The difficulty of carrying out implementation in a world which is unpredictable is getting more complex. Services are getting commoditized, which has led to the mushrooming of specialist agencies," he said.
He mentioned that, especially for a company like United Spirits, which cannot use mediums like television, the inability of agencies to integrate offline and online activities is a huge "stress point". He alleged that a lot of philandering happens which erodes trust and also that agencies do not understand brand business enough. "Clients and agencies are part of the same system and need to work together. But brands too get the kind of agencies that they deserve. Not changing is the biggest risk of all," he stated.
The first point in Kripalu's presentation was about content. According to him, controlled creative messaging is moving to branded content, two way conversations and media neutral content made for the multi-screen world. He agreed that mobile is becoming fundamental and video content is increasing to a stage that one cannot afford to not have video content.
The second point he raised was that brands and agencies need to move away from the age-old concept of making pitches and depending on the 'pitch' to decide long-term projects. "Move from pitches to partnerships and alliances," he urged the audience. "I think it is like a marriage. You have to try really hard before getting a divorce. Both client and agency need to value each other to build continuity. You have to have a commitment to make the relationship work," he said.
He also gave the example of the Oreo "You can dunk in the dark" tweet during the Superbowl blackout. According to him, it is now become necessary to engage with customers in real time. "A campaign is not a finite project; it is a continuum. You can't launch and leave it," he argued. "Keep it topical" was his advice.
His last point had to do with talent. He agreed that talent retention is a challenge for agencies and brands. "The company needs the talent but the talent does not necessarily need the company," he said. According to him, agencies need to have a diverse and multi-disciplinary talent profile. "For too long, people have under invested in talent. Leaders today have to manage talent who are so different in terms of everything," he added. One of his recommendations was a talent exchange between companies for short term. He opined that this would also enable employees to stay fresh and get new experiences but he also cautioned that this could only be done if there was that high level of trust between companies.
"We need to have foresight to see where we (the brand) want to be and what are we doing right now to achieve it," he signed off.