I want to focus on big local partners in OMG's APAC markets: Tony Harradine

Harradine, CEO of Omnicom Media Group, APAC, talks of reducing over-dependence on global client relationships, building capability rather than scale and finding the right successor for Harish Shriyan

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Published: Aug 6, 2019 8:58 AM  | 8 min read

Tony Harradine took charge as the CEO of Omnicom Media Group, APAC, in April last year. In a conversation with exchange4media, he talks about addressing over-dependence on global client relationships, building capability rather than scale, finding the right successor for Harish Shriyan, for which he is in talks with several people, and more


It’s been a little over a year since you took over as CEO of OMG APAC. What are some of your top priorities for the region and strategy for execution?

When you come into a role like this, it's probably the most diverse region you can wish to run. Compare China's needs to Japan to India, it's so diverse. The key thing has been to compartmentalise the regions for what they are, initially. Otherwise you can overwhelm yourself, it's so vast. The priority is to get the right talent on the ground. In some markets, the task is to prevent over-dependence on global client relationships. The focus has been to ensure that localisation takes precedence. We want the capabilities for the agency groups to be consistent across the board, but they need to be tailored and localised to ensure relevance to the market they're in. That ensures that we're securing big local partners as well. There’s always been this thinking, historically, that multinational clients drive capability, local clients create stability. Now local clients too demand the same level of capabilities from an agency. So, there's a big focus on ensuring that we're locally fit to deliver against the objectives needed.

From a product standpoint, getting our data story right is key. It will come from a place which is wholly platform agnostic, delivering bespoke capability to every single client's individual needs. Some markets are future fit to deliver while in others, it's work in progress.

The other key areas, in terms of innovation, is e-commerce, which is exploding. We've got some strong pockets of capability, but we are still working on the formula to bring that all together and get them better connected.

Effective April 1, you moved programmatic, search and social agency specialists out of Resolution Media and data science specialists out of Annalect and placed them within the core agency brands: OMD, PHD and Hearts & Science. Can you tell us why such a move was necessary and why you believe that programmatic should be considered a traditional marketing format?

The thinking behind it is our philosophy - Omnicom has always been client first. We are a brand-led group where the client comes first. So, it is critical that the thinking and the communication is interlinked within that ecosystem. The danger of having a lot of those specialised services is that they are no longer specialised because they're an intrinsic part of every market’s media mix. The thinking is, if you've got capabilities isolated within a special business unit at group level, that is dumbing down the agency's capabilities because more spends move into the area and you end up with brands that essentially hollow out client-servicing centres. We are still big believers that brands are the gateway to the client, they need to have a lot of the thinking and the best practices within their four walls.  

Do you plan to launch Hearts and Science in India?

Currently, we have it in Australia, it will be online in New Zealand shortly, we have it in Japan. In Hong Kong, we're hoping to launch it soon. There's certainly ambitions to launch it here as well. Identifying the right foundation plan to launch it with is important.

How do you compare the APAC markets under you in terms of performance and growth? How do you maintain consistency across markets and yet localise according to the needs and complexities of each market?

Yes, it's a tricky balance. I'd say if we look at the agency brands, PHD has always been particularly strong in product consistency, because a lot of the IP was generated out of our London team. It's been pushed out throughout the system. Also, it's been set up as a challenger brand. For younger emerging brands, it’s easy to have that consistency when you are starting from data. OMD is a much bigger entity in terms of client base and it’s challenging to ensure that there is greater consistency. So, you've got these big businesses that are operating or had been operating somewhat independently of each other. Some global clients like Apple and McDonald's demand a lot of consistency in the way we operate, the big local clients maybe to a lesser degree.

So getting that right has been a key focus. The critical part is to make a bespoke market to market strategy as well, as the clientele in China may vary somewhat to clientele in India, and so on and so forth. So, I'm getting that balance in consistency, but localisation is always a fine line against it.

How do you compare India and China as markets?

There are some similarities, like scale and adoption of things is similar. I don't think I've never seen anything quite like the mobile explosion in India. I think it even tops China in terms of how quickly it has scaled. The biggest difference, maybe, is that China tends to be more of a self-contained ecosystem with respect to data and technology. India is probably more aligned to many other parts of the region. The obvious examples of Google and Facebook presence in this market are obviously sizeable. There's more learning that can be adapted from outside of India to India and likewise, learnings from within India, we can replicate outside of India. China presents more challenges because of its unique nature in that space.

What are some of the untapped opportunities you see in the media agency space in India, which other APAC markets have been able to tap?

There'll always be a plethora of different things to wrap your hands around and review. No agency has got the e-commerce component humming here. Just trying to distill exactly what becomes service solutions - is it high end consultancy, is it activation, which is more akin to what agencies used to do or continue to do in the SEO space? There's still a lot of opportunities there.

Post the OMD-DDB Mudra consolidation, do you see more areas for possible consolidation for OMG in India?

We've looked at many, there's obviously some obvious candidates for acquisition. But it's certainly not off the table. There was a moment in time where buying scale interested us, less so now - we'd rather buy capability.

Doesn't capability automatically convert into more clients, more billings?

It does, but we’re not buying revenue for revenue’s sake. Rather, it needs to be untapped capability or capability enhancements that ultimately lead to revenue. It's more about the trigger that attracts us to a particular business. It won't be the revenue of the entity that we're buying; it's the capability as a byproduct that will come in as well.

With Harish Shriyan stepping down as OMG’s India CEO, what plans do you have in mind for the India business going forward?

Harish is an amicable man, he's been such a loyal employee and it's had a huge impact on our business. We hope to keep him engaged in some capacity with us. With respect to the new leadership, we're going through a formal process now. So we're engaging headhunters, leveraging our extensive HR both regionally and on the ground here to set up meetings within the next couple of weeks to meet prospective candidates.

If there is one thing you would want to change, improve or get rid of within the organisation, what would it be?

I think the infrastructure in many markets with respect to systems integration. The way that media systems talk to vendors, there's a lot of inefficiencies there, to be honest. If you were to start this entire industry tomorrow, there's probably a lot of simplified operational efficiencies you could drive. Still, we're better than most.

There's still a huge amount of administration that's required at the day-to-day level. It comes full circle to attracting the right talent - making the role more attractive, less administrative and labour intense. People work long hours in this industry; when you're not reacting to client needs, you are deep in spreadsheets and invoicing queries. If we can eradicate a lot of that, we end up bringing in more gifted talent to do the role they're paid to do rather than get bogged down in some laborious elements.

(With inputs from Anjali Thakur, Beryl Menezes and Eularie Saldanha)

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In new campaign, Rajkummar Rao highlights perils of not having Lay’s at home

The campaign is created by Leo Burnett

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 4:29 PM   |   3 min read


Lay’s has launched a new campaign with actor Rajkummar Rao to remind consumers to have ‘Ghar Par Lay’s Always’!

“At-home experiences and occasions are best enjoyed with friends and family, and a pack of Lay’s makes these moments even better. But running out of Lay’s can interrupt the good times and may even induce last-minute panic to restock. In the campaign, Lay’s has hilariously drawn attention to the outcomes of last-minute restocking trips,” the brand said.

The introduction of the latest TVC under the ‘Ghar Par Lay’s Always’ campaign speaks to the consumers on the perils of not stocking-up Lay’s at home.

Directed by Vinil Mathew, the TVC film opens with Rajkummar throwing a costume party at home with himself dressed as a burglar. When his girlfriend (played by Dolly Singh) informs him that they've run out of Lay's, Rajkummar nervously heads out to the grocery store, starting a series of comedic mishaps. From being mistaken as a real burglar by the public to getting arrested by the police, his hilarious roller-coaster of misadventures concludes upon his release from jail, when he tells a jail warden curious about his imprisonment that “Mai toh sirf Lay’s lene gaya tha”. The TVC ends on an entertaining note as Rajkummar explains his Lay's misadventures to Dolly and proudly shows off his fully stocked pantry with Lay's, remarking, “Isliye…Ghar pe Lay’s Always!”.

Speaking about being part of the TVC film, Rajkummar Rao, expressed, “For years, Lay’s, with its iconic and irresistible flavours has been my favourite snack. When the brand reached out for their 'At Home' film, I was instantly drawn towards the comical and playful script because I have always related to the frenzy of keeping my home stocked with Lay’s. I had a lot of fun filming the TVC and I am definitely going to have ‘Ghar Par Lay’s Always’. I hope the audience enjoys the film and ensures Lay’s is a part of all their joyful moments at home.”

Expressing her excitement at the TVC, Shailja Joshi, Director-Marketing, Potato Chips Category, PepsiCo India said, “At Lay’s, we are committed to infuse a sense of joy into our consumers’ lives and uplift their consumption experiences with our distinct offerings and relatable storytelling. Our newest TVC film for ‘Ghar Par Lay's Always’ perfectly captures the central role that Lay's plays during at-home occasions. We're thrilled to have associated with Rajkummar Rao for this campaign and he has fantastically brought this messaging to life in the film. We hope that it will prompt Lay's fans to always keep their favourite Lay’s well-stocked at home and experience fun uninterrupted."

The campaign is created by Leo Burnett.

Speaking about the campaign Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett - South Asia, said, “Lay’s has always been the perfect snack partner and with this film we wanted to reiterate to the audiences to stock up their favourite Lay's at home. With this hilariously exaggerated cautionary tale starring Rajkumar Rao, our film gives people a glimpse into the perils of not having 'Ghar Par Lay's Always'! If you don't have Lays, anything can happen.”

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Airtel launches new brand campaign to show ‘limitless possibilities’

The TVC campaign has been conceptualised by DDB Mudra

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 1:57 PM   |   2 min read


Bharti Airtel has rolled out a new brand campaign.

The campaign highlights the clear advantage and limitless possibilities that Airtel 5G Plus offers to its customers in a very contemporary manner.

Shashwat Sharma, Director of Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel, on being asked to comment on the campaign had this to say, “I would first like to take this opportunity to thank our 10 million happy 5G users who have embraced ultrafast Airtel 5G Plus. Customer obsession is what drives us at Airtel and we have taken the lead to simplify the new technology and get our customers to experience the real difference of 5G. Airtel 5G Plus, while delivering incredible speeds and the best voice experience, will work on all 5G smartphones and be kinder to the environment. Additionally, all our customers will be able to enjoy the advantage of 5G services using their existing SIMs at no additional cost. We invite more and more customers to experience the power of limitless possibilities on Airtel 5G Plus.”

The TVC campaign has been conceptualised by DDB Mudra and produced by Equinox Films.

The Airtel 5G Plus TVC has been dubbed in 12 languages and will be localized for audiences all across the country as it is rolled out in full strength.

The 360-degree, high-decibel campaign will be extensively seen across diverse mediums like Television, digital and OOH over the next few weeks.

Commenting on the film, Ram Madhvani, Founder & Director, Equinox Films, had this to say, “The thing I’ve learnt in advertising is that it’s not just about ‘what’ is being said or ‘how’ it’s being said but also about what the audience ‘feels’ when it ‘sees’ any piece of communication. Our film is an example of this. We have tried to create a visceral experience for the audience to create a feeling of speed and future-ready technology which is what Airtel 5G Plus is actually about.”

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Goafest to be held on May 24-26

The 16th edition of the advertising fest will take place at Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 1:47 PM   |   3 min read


South Asia’s biggest advertising festival, Goafest is all set to make a grand return. Co-hosted by The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and The Advertising Club, Goafest 2023 is scheduled to take place on 24th, 25th and 26th May at Grand Hyatt, Bambolim, Goa. The prestigious fest will also witness the 54th edition of the ABBY’s, South Asia’s Gold standard, that has been recognizing creative excellence in advertising for over five decades. 

Goafest is the definitive annual festival for the advertising, marketing and media industry that attracts over 2000 industry professionals. The festival is an eclectic platter of knowledge, recognition, networking and celebration that makes each day at this 3-days event a remarkable experience. In addition to presentations and sessions by leading industry experts, Goafest 2023 will host a total of 10 knowledge-sharing masterclasses, the highest to date. The upcoming edition of the festival is also expected to have increased participation and presence from advertisers. 

Announcing Goafest 2023, Prasanth Kumar, President, the Advertising Agencies Association of India and CEO, South Asia GroupM said, “Goafest has cemented its position as the most admirable creative festival in South Asia that truly brings together the best of creative and marketing professionals. Our goal is to offer our industry colleagues three power-packed days of learning, engagement, interactivity and curiosity. We are confident that this year's edition will be the biggest and best yet, leaving each attendee with valuable learnings and benefiting the industry as a whole.” 

“Year after year, Goafest has evolved and innovated, making it the most relevant advertising festival in India. From knowledge-sharing sessions to exclusive speakers, we are certain of having guests from across the globe that will benefit the industry, especially younger professionals, this year as well. For the first time, various committees involving senior industry leaders have been formed thus making the event all-inclusive and broad-based for the entire advertising industry. We look forward to curating a festival that drives participation and empowers the fraternity thus positioning India as a sharper contender in the global advertising landscape.” added Jaideep Gandhi, Chairperson Goafest 2023. 

Partha Sinha, President, the Times of India group and President of The Advertising Club, further added, “We believe it is imperative that we celebrate the industry and Goafest enables us to do exactly this. The festival empowers the industry to push creative boundaries and think beyond existing possibilities. We look forward to another year of firsts at Goafest 2023 and encourage India’s creative economy to participate actively.” 

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Asian Paints says ‘Shauq Ki No Limit’ in new campaign

The campaign has been conceptualised by Ogilvy India

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 1:04 PM   |   2 min read

Asian Paints

Asian Paints has launched “Budget mein fit. Shauq ki no limit.” campaign.  Conceptualized by Ogilvy India, in the campaign, the paints are shown to be an ideal solution for homeowners seeking good quality paint within their budget.

The campaign tells a humorous story of a colleague who can fulfil his wishes in his newly painted house, thanks to Tractor Sparc & Ace Sparc Emulsion.

As part of the TVC, the brand has also created a fun, snappy jingle that will stay in consumers' minds and help generate high recall. The jingle conveys Tractor Sparc and Ace Sparc Emulsion's value proposition as high-quality, cost-effective paints that will allow consumers to fulfill other desires through savings on these paints.

Speaking about the new Tractor Sparc & Ace Sparc campaign, Amit Syngle, Managing Director and CEO, of Asian Paints Ltd., commented, “In our endeavor to offer smart, value-for-money offers to the consumer and truly democratize the home décor market, we continue to innovate and launch solutions which offer customer strong propositions. This customer is willing to upgrade to branded solutions, accompanied by a strong quality and décor promise. The new campaign takes quite an entertaining route to communicate the value-for-money proposition of Tractor Sparc and Ace Sparc emulsions.”

Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, said, “Asian Paints Tractor Sparc & Ace Sparc Emulsion are cost-effective paints that promise to offer a rich finish for interior and exterior walls at low cost. Our new campaign highlights the benefit of this feature with an enjoyable take. What the world thinks when they notice the amazing paint job, and also the things that are bought to fulfill the wishes, with the money saved from the cost-effective paint.”

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Edelweiss Mutual Funds TVC talks of visibility of returns

The ‘Kitna Milega’ campaign showcases Target Maturity Funds' unique investment approach

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 12:34 PM   |   1 min read

mutual fund

Edelweiss Mutual Funds has unveiled its TVC brand campaign ‘Kitna Milega’, which focuses on Mutual Fund products that are designed to provide visibility of returns.

The ad campaign showcases Target Maturity Funds' unique investment approach, which offers investors visibility of returns* on their investments provided they stay invested till the maturity of the fund. This campaign will also have presence on print media, outdoor and digital and social media.

Speaking about the campaign, Radhika Gupta, MD & CEO, Edelweiss MF said, "Inherently we have heard investors always asking ‘How much return will I make in this product’ before they choose to invest in any financial product/ Mutual Funds. Investors want simple products that provide visibility of returns.

We have picked this insight of ‘Kitna Milega’ to build on the communication for Target Maturity Funds. These funds are structured and designed in a way to give visibility of returns to investors and are simple in a structure like traditional deposits. Investors will be able to understand and invest in this category banking on the growing popularity of Debt Passives and Target Maturity Funds," she adds.

The campaign aims to convey a clear message about returns on investment that investors have while investing in mutual funds.

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Tanishq’s Ugadi film celebrates women creating own narratives

The film is a celebration of the brand’s Ugadi collection ‘Vardhini’

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 12:28 PM   |   2 min read


Tanishq has launched a heart-warming digital film for the auspicious occasion of Ugadi.

Tanishq’s first-ever digital film for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is a tribute to every woman who is not only unique in her thoughts and stance but also supports her decisions by being her voice.

The film is a celebration of brand’s beautiful Ugadi collection ‘Vardhini’, which is inspired by rich culture and crafted with precision for the women who prosper and thrive in all their might.

Conceptualised by Tanishq and Mind Your Language, the 75-second digital film showcases a powerful narrative of how a woman of today believes in carving her own path, takes a stand for herself and weaves a magic of her own new narratives. The film is an ode to the progressive women of today who want to create an identity for themselves, strongly believes in the importance of new beginnings and that life after marriage goes beyond motherhood.

Speaking on the launch of the film and the collection, Ranjani Krishnaswamy, General Manager – Marketing, Tanishq, Titan Company Limited said, “Today, women are yearning to carve an identity for themselves and are creators of their own narrative. The film is a tribute to the women who prosper and thrive in all their might and the Vardhini collection is truly a celebration of her extraordinary beauty and beliefs that make her stand apart.”

Deepan Ramachandran, Creative Director- Mind Your Language!, said “Tanishq, like the protagonist Swati in our Ugadi film, has always stood out with their progressive and new thoughts. Their brief to us was to straddle the conventional celebration of Ugadi with the new-age thinking of today’s woman. That’s when we asked ourselves - Why shouldn’t today’s woman dream differently? We found the answer in the story of Swati.”

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Mercedes-Benz talks of plans to go all-electric in digital campaign

The campaign ‘tells the story’ of the three-pointed star logo

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 21, 2023 10:50 AM   |   1 min read


Mercedes-Benz India has come up with an innovative social media campaign to "tell the story" of the three-pointed star logo and the company's plans to go all-electric by 2030.

Explaining the concept behind the logo, the campaign says that: "The upper blade stands for the air and by the air, we are inspired."

The carmaker has said going all-electric was part of its endeavours to slash its carbon footprint.

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