The curtains have closed on 2009 and despite the slow movement in the economy and the impact of that on the media and advertising business, 2009 still has to be one of the most eventful years of the industry. Whether it was the innovating, and more importantly, the still spending advertiser; businesses that moved between agencies, not to mention almost 10 global pitches happening at around the same time; the recovery of ad revenues for media houses or an all new Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that took the stance of working with the industry instead of dictating terms – the year has been full.
Every domain has seen developments in 2009 that would shape what 2010 would be all about. Following are five things that have dominated most of the industry conversations.
Some of the biggest international pitches, including Hyundai, Vodafone, Nokia, Reckitt Benckiser, Danone, and Bayer, took place in 2009, but the mother of it all had to be the Unilever pitch. The advertiser had decided to review its media in 14 key markets, which also included India. Mindshare A team and Hindustan Unilever media team were busy most of November in Singapore for the pitch, and everyone is dying to know what happened there. Mindshare India is a formidable force when it comes to Unilever and one may even find it difficult to imagine Unilever with any other agency, but at least for some of the other markets, agencies like OMD are very strong – does that help OMD India in the longer run? One would soon find out.
Newcomers on the media agency block
The year 2009 saw a whole brigade of new media agencies on the horizon and one couldn’t help but wonder how it would make sense given that even the current agencies were complaining about diminishing margins and commoditising of media service brands. Even as OMD India was still settling and Madison World’s Platinum Media had begun taking shape, Starcom MediaVest Group launched MediaVest Worldwide, Aegis Media launched Vizeum and Lintas Media Group launched Karishma Initiative. Speaking on the media scene once, Ashutosh Srivastava (CEO, Mindshare APAC) stated his concern over the state of affairs. He had said, “Unfortunately, many of these agencies will resort to bringing down the working rates to win new businesses. I don’t see place for so many brands.” The Indian agency heads think differently and believe that this is the next step for some of the more mature brands to grow further in India. How many of these brands are able to make a place for themselves in the Indian media and advertising industry is another wait and watch of 2009.
Bloomberg UTV/ Turner Imagine
New partnerships were forged in the year and players that had otherwise gone slightly in the background have become important in the overall scheme of affairs once again – whether it was the Bloomberg-UTV deal in the English business news space, which according to many may not be trouble for CNBC-TV18 just yet, is definitely already trouble for the likes of newcomer ET Now.
The Turner-NDTV Imagine deal is another one that has many waiting for what next. Sameer Nair and his team have managed to stay in the news for various reasons since launch – right from the return of mythologies to ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’ breaking all records in its finale. With this partnership with a global player known for its international aggression and a healthy track record in India, Imagine is back in the ‘watch out for’ zone. That said, the Hindi GEC space would be all eyes for what next for Colors and how Zee TV or Star Plus would stay their course and stay on their leadership spots in 2010. Sony Entertainment Television is another brand that many are watching out for, especially with the current team led by Ajit Thakur.
Print Playing Back
Even though the year saw quite a few new launches both in terms of new publications and in terms of new titles, the print players largely lay low in 2009. But if industry word is to be believed, 2010 is going to be action-packed again, both in terms of the national dailies and also the various regional publications. The Times of India, DNA and Mid-Day have quite a few initiatives marked for the New Year, and so do Jagran, Bhaskar and Lokmat. More than anything else, the NRS-IRS merger would be interesting in 2010 – the core team has been busy, but the industry is impatient enough to see results, and soon. 2010 would be a key year for print research in India.
Harley Davidson, Danone, Diesel & other brands…
If 2008 delayed the entry of many fashion and luxury brands in India, 2009 announced the plans of some of the global majors like Danone and Diesel eyeing India closely. The impact of this on the agency business is already seen – OMD and Vizeum being key beneficiaries in new brands coming in the country. But the character of the Indian branding space is set to get hotter with these brands working towards making their mark in the Indian market place. Some would think here more than watching out for what these brands would do, the focus also is going to be on how much these brands are spending!
And then of course there is the Commonwealth Games, what next point of discussion between the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the industry, what next on television measurement and so on...