Media and communication business in India is set to see more action with the Omnicom Group, a global player in the sector, intensifying focus in its India operations. Since June 2005, the company’s officials have been visiting the country with the clear agenda of developing partnerships and acquiring businesses in India.
Michael Birkin, Vice Chairman, Omnicom, who was named the President and CEO of its Asia-Pacific operations – a new position created and effective since April 1, 2005 – is spending the week in India, meeting the agencies with whom Omnicom has relations as also other potential business partners. He is accompanied on the trip by Alain Rhone, CFO, Asia Pacific, Omnicom.
Even though tight-lipped about his plan of action here, Birkin divulged a little about the intention of his regular visits to the country. He said, “The Omnicom Group operates in various areas like advertising and media services, customer relationship management, speciality advertising and public relations. Our main objective is to establish and grow these areas in India now.”
Elaborating further, he said that the prime way to achieve this objective was via partnerships and acquisitions. “We are concentrating on partnerships and acquisitions, but the main interest is in hiring good talent, and if a way of doing that is by acquisition, then that is fine. But we are not buying companies just for buying sake.”
The Omnicom Group of companies includes names like BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, and TBWA Worldwide. Omnicom’s leading media agencies are part of Omnicom Media Group (OMG). The Group consists of two full service media companies – OMD Worldwide and PHD Network – as well as several media specialist companies.
In the present state-of-affairs, as is the case with most international markets, WPP is a very strong player in the Indian market as well. Replying to whether Omnicom’s entry at this stage would really affect the market substantially, Birkin said, “I don’t know. All I am intent in doing is being the best in what we do and from that moment the market scales will be what they will be. I am here to be able to provide the best service to our client, whether they are global or in India and once I do that, I believe the rest will take care of itself.”
He, however, believed that competition would get stiff once Omnicom got its act together here. “I have a lot of respect for WPP and Publicis. I expect them to be very fierce competitors, I wouldn’t expect any less. They are every where else in the world,” he said.
Speaking more specifically on the Indian market, Birkin said, “This is one market where they have a bigger market share than us. But we know from our style and creativity that we would develop good partnerships here. And as I say, once we do the best work then anything is possible. Right now, with the Indian economy growing at the pace that it is, we have great opportunity here and we are working hard to benefit from it.”
Birkin divulged that apart from their core areas of operation, the company would also look at exploring other areas, where the Indian market was expected to see growth. “We are looking for the right level of creativity. It is all about people’s ideas and building the clients’ brands. You will hear more on our plans by the year’s end.”
Founded in 1986, Omnicom Group is a strategic holding company that manages a portfolio of global market leaders.
Birkin has served as Worldwide President of Diversified Agency Services, Omnicom’s largest network. Prior to holding that position, he had served as DAS International President (1997-99) and it’s European Managing Director (1995-97).