Two decades after having founded his advertising agency Maadhyam, Michael Menezes decided to venture into something different yet relevant. This was a time when the live experience industry was just about beginning to find its feet. And Showtime was born, with a first-of-its-kind 33-city laser launch of the Hero Honda Street motorcycle in 1997.
In conversation with exchange4media Menezes shares his views about the events industry in India, some emerging trends, retaining clients in the long run and more...
With increasing competition, every player in the event industry is trying to make a mark by being innovative and creative. How do you differentiate yourself from other event agencies?
What has made us stand out is our ability to constantly push boundaries and create innovative brand experiences. Moreover, our past experience in advertising helps us in contextually understanding our clients and their brands with a lot more depth, thus helping us create more relevant and meaningful brand solutions. This differentiates us from almost every other player in this space.
(Adds Amarnath Varma, GM Corp Comm, Showtime Group) At Showtime, we love challenges, and when it comes to innovation in thought and technology, we have always demonstrated that we are at the forefront. It’s a credo that goes into all the experiences that we have been creating for our client partners over the years. Whether it was launching a car for Volkswagen by taking it straight up the wall of a building, doing a 360-degree projection across the roof of an arena to bring home the magic of cloud computing for TCS or dwarfing the imposing Brabourne Stadium with the world’s largest projection screen for SBI and TCS. And more recently, creating the multiple award-winning BMW Xperience in a 60 feet deep excavation site spread over 32 acres. The very idea had a phenomenal relevance to the product.
Please share with us some key trends you have seen in this domain?
Integrated marketing communication will become the order of the day, if it hasn’t already. Digital, mobile and ground activation will grow exponentially to meet this demand for 360 degree solutions. IPs and AFPs will become increasingly visible as yet another extension of integrated communication.
(Adds Amarnath Varma, GM Corp Comm, Showtime Group) Unlike a decade or two back, when event management companies were seen purely as event solution providers, there is a definite paradigm shift as our fraternity continuously equips itself with all-round capabilities to provide integrated communication solutions to clients.
Please elaborate on the Jodhpur One World Retreat campaign. How was this campaign different from any other campaigns that Showtime has executed earlier? What was the objective behind the campiagn?
It was Showtime’s first foray into creating an IP and was, therefore, radically different from anything else we have done before. Even as an IP it was different in so much as it was a fund-raising effort, something almost unheard of in our country. And even as a fund-raiser, it was very different, as it was jointly executed with the beneficiary, the Indian Head Injury Foundation led by its Chairman and Founder, Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur.
It’s been nine months in the making. It flowed out of Showtime’s association with the World Economic Forum each year in Davos. And it had a great social objective to it. The basic thought - if the world’s greatest thought leaders could brave the inhospitable environs of a chilly, one-horse town called Davos to ostensibly conference but actually to network, could we not get them to a gorgeous princely destination like Jodhpur to do much of the same while they lent their support to one of the most deserving causes across the planet.
The weekend of March 8-10 this year saw that wild thought become hardcore reality. Together with the Maharaja of Jodhpur and his family and team, Showtime created what was an incredibly magical three-day experience for 250 luminaries from across the world while raising awareness and resources for a critical cause - head injury and brain trauma.
What, according to you, are the reasons for brands to take the experiencial route? How often do you see brands targetting their audiences through events and IPs?
Unlike a decade back, clients today are increasingly looking at experiential marketing to promote their brands, primarily because they get to connect one-on-one with their consumers, immerse them totally into the brand and that, too, in a cost-effective manner.
How can marketers and brand managers leverage this form of marketing to benefit their brands?
To begin with, they need to see value in sponsoring the IP in terms of a brand fit. They also need to examine the possibility of extending coverage and reach by dovetailing other communication modes with the IP in its current form. The opportunities are enormous because they usually offer a marketer a captive audience and if that audience is the segment that the brand is keen to reach out to, it’s a win-win for all. Like it was for BMW and the Jodhpur One World Retreat.
Brands such as BMW, Castrol, DLF, and Taj Group of Hotels have been your client for almost 10 years. But in the events segment you generally don’t see clients sticking to the same agency for long duration. How have you managed to achieve this?
As I said earlier, our past experience in advertising gives us an edge in terms of closely and contextually decoding brands. This, coupled with a deep understanding that we have of our clients’ business, helps us forge long-term relationships with our clients. Ultimately, the client has to see value in the relationship and this is what we consistently try to ensure.
How much importance Showtime has been giving to digital and mobile medium while executing events?
We have great plans for these media and will discuss them as and when we firm them up.
What are the focus areas for Showtime in 2013?
I wouldn’t like to go into too much detail on this for obvious reasons, but we are looking at a number of strategic alliances to extend our reach to other segments and increase the depth of our coverage in existing segments. Having said that, I see this as a tricky year for our business as sentiment is still seeming a little shaky, but the good thing is that the new financial year appears to be starting off positively and so I would like to stay positive.