Sri Lanka has emerged as a hot destination for media agencies with media majors Starcom MediaVest Group and MindShare all set to commence operations there. Both Starcom and MindShare are planning to enter the island nation around February. While Nimbus’ Sunil Manocha is spearheading the MindShare operations, Sushruta Samanta has been appointed as CEO for Starcom Sri Lanka.
MindShare already has experience of the Sri Lankan market, where it was been working for its client Unilever since 2001. However, the operation so far is being done under the aegis of JWT Colombo. Even though the official launch hasn’t happened yet, Manocha has already moved to Colombo to oversee the pre-launch activities. He will be reporting to Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, MindShare, India and South Asia.
Commenting on the Sri Lankan operations, Sakhuja said, “We have been active in the market for almost four years now, and to have full-fledged media operations is just the logical progression.”
The Lankan model will be much on the same lines as the Indian model, which would see the independent functioning of MindShare Fulcrum and MindShare, both under the leadership of Manocha. “The Sri Lankan market is growing and holds many opportunities,” said Sakhuja, adding, “With our own operations in place, we will be able to develop and benefit from the market.”
In the case of Starcom MediaVest Group, the Sri Lankan operation will be the network’s 111th office in the 68th country in the world. Starcom Sri Lanka will be established as an independent company, but will be supported by Leo Burnett Solutions, a marketing communications company in Sri Lanka.
Commenting on Starcom’s entry into Sri Lanka, Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, said, “It is our belief that the Sri Lankan media market is evolving fast. As consumer choices grow, and marketers are faced with greater opportunities and challenges in the dynamic market place, we are happy to bring in our international expertise and best practices from around the world. In the five years that it has been present in India, Starcom MediaVest Group has earned a reputation for delivering incisive, consumer centric and medium neutral solutions to brands and is today one of the most respected media networks in the country. I am confident that our Sri Lankan operation would repeat our global and Indian success. This first-in strategy would also be an important step in maintaining the long-term competitive advantage that SMG already holds globally.”
Prior to joining MindShare, Manocha had spent most of his professional life with Nimbus in India, where in 15 years he handled domains ranging from television to sports.
Samanta brings with him an experience of almost eight years, having worked in Carat Media Services, MindShare, Zee Network, and AC Nielsen-ORG MARG. Talking of this new development, he said, “I am excited and eagerly looking forward to exploring the media landscape in Sri Lanka. The economy has bounced back after the catastrophic tsunami in 2004 and is pulsating with the sound of a consumer centric market place.”