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India is not a developing market; it is a developed market: Martin Sorrell

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India is not a developing market; it is a developed market: Martin Sorrell

FICCI Frames is rarely known for engaging the advertising community. Yet in a move that clearly stated FICCI’s intentions to pay attention to that part of the value chain as well, this year the event saw none other than WPP’s CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, as the Keynote speaker of the day. One of the first statements from Sorrell that caught the audience’s attention was: “The Bollywood star (referring to Shah Rukh Khan, who had spoken at the inaugural session) called India a developing market; it is not. India is a developed market.”

In typical Martin Sorrell style, the advertising visionary divided his address in points to give his view on why he was bullish on the communication services or marketing services industry. The first point explained more on the new markets that had replaced the likes of India as developing markets. These markets, also known as the next 11, comprised markets like Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan and Iran, among others. Sorrell divulged that the WPP India revenues for the first two months of 2010 were up by 7 per cent in like-to-like comparison. He said, “From a negative growth last year, the business in many other markets has stabilised, but India has seen growth.”

Sorrell also cited discussions in Davos last year, where it was expected that India’s GMP growth would be in double digits; in comparison, China’s growth at present is around 8 per cent.

For WPP, this was one of the key areas that had seen focus in the last year. The other area of focus for WPP was digital. Sorrell explained that at present, digital contributed to 27 per cent of WPP revenues. He mentioned here that while the consumer at an average spent 28 per cent of his time online, the advertisers’ monies were spent in the region of 12-15 per cent. The third area that Sorrell spoke about was Consumer Insights, wherein WPP had made considerable investment in the last couple of years. The thought process here was that understanding consumer purchase habits would change in the new media landscape, and hence, investment in knowing more about these changes was important.

An interesting point that he made was that while it was popularly said that new media was measurable, since in theory it was, in reality, the jury was still out on that. Sorrell cited the example of the Obama campaign to explain that while the campaign had used the digital medium very effectively for fund raising, the campaign had also come out with 30-minute ads on television, across four networks. He also spoke on Google’s ad at the Super Bowl and said, “we are seeing the use of traditional media to sell new media”.

The balance in the shifting of economic power towards the East was a reality that Sorrell stressed on. He also spoke on how application of technology was a differentiator that would make all the difference to communications services and spoke of WPP’s investment in Real Media on this front. Sorrell further said that a few years down the line, he would want WPP to be more new media oriented and more quantitative, and strategic thinking, execution and then distribution were the processes to follow.

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