The year 2010 is not going to be a simple, sweet year and the first week has already given indications of that. If I thought that losing a cellphone (Nokia N-97) in the building lobby and getting it back in a city like Delhi was unheard of, and hence only a miracle, you can only imagine my shock when it actually happened. But that was nothing compared to the ‘unheard of’ media news waiting in the pipeline.
When friends in the industry first told me that Multi Screen Media, which has channels like Sony Entertainment, Max, SAB and Pix, has decided to end its nine-year long relationship with MediaCom, and move the business to OMD India, I was not very surprised. After all, till only a few years back, MediaCom was headed by Jasmin Sohrabji and Harish Shriyan, so the first thought naturally was that Sony is parking the business back with the same team that was handling it some time back. Though the immediate next thought was that if that was the reason, the business should have moved two years ago.
Also, it is popular knowledge that it is the latest addition to the Sony senior management – Ajit Thakur – who has played a key role in this media pitch. So, the reasons are more than just an old team. To OMD’s credit, the agency has been growing in the last two years significantly – businesses like Visa, Danone and Diesel were added to the company in the last few weeks of 2009, and this was a great way to begin 2010. And by growing the channel GRPS from 80 to 180, Thakur has started off his innings at Sony well, and many are already sitting up to take notice. So that was Sony…
But there was no denying that when the news of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and Madison Media ending their eight-year old relationship had first come in, my reaction was ‘what bakwaas’. Of course, it took just one phone call to verify that the news was indeed true, and the surprise element continued. Though Gangs (T Gangadhar) has been constantly working on keeping Mediaedge:cia busy and Manjiri Kamat returning to the agency’s India operations last year would have added to MEC’s growth plans, it still makes one wonder why would Zee, which has been a believer in old relationships, and Madison Media, which again is known for excellent client relationships, decide to end it. Over the weekend, many stories have already surfaced (including Platinum Media handling NDTV Imagine) with all kinds of weirder reasons, however, nothing still throws light on what the two companies were really thinking.
Either way, 2010 has begun with its shares of surprises for the Hindi GEC domain. New media agency partners for some may only be about better rates and more clout, but that is not how new-age clients look at these relations. Both Sony and Zee TV, in that sense, are mature clients and the set of expectations from the new agency partners would be a very different one. According to a senior official from one of the channels, the expectation from the new agency is also to be a ‘thinker’. The competition today means ideas coming from all walks and channels are actively looking at that. A new media agency is reiteration of a channel’s aggressive working in refreshing its thinking, in infusing newer ideas in the system, in revisiting old strategies and plans and above all in keeping an eye on competition as well.
Sony has made no pretentions that it has ambitious plans for 2010, and Zee TV’s Nitin Vaidya was quoted in an interview in exchange4media last week that the clear intention of the channel is to be the No. 1 player in 2010. Around 17 new shows are doing agency and advertiser rounds from various Hindi GECs. In short, the battle for this year’s TRPs has begun…
(These notes from the Diary are a weekly feature on exchange4media.com every Monday. For feedbacks, comments or just ‘exchanging notes’, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)