India has so much the rest of the world can learn from in the digital sphere: Jim Elms

In a freewheeling chat with exchange4media, the Global CEO of Initiative talks about criticality of analytics, India's digital lead and bringing the joy back to the business

e4m by Rashi Bisaria
Updated: Oct 4, 2013 8:57 AM
India has so much the rest of the world can learn from in the digital sphere: Jim Elms

Jim Elms, erstwhile the Chief Strategy Officer of Initiative, recently took up charge as its Global CEO. The transition has been interesting and fun, he says. “I absolutely love it. I was a bit pensive at first, but the more I understand the opportunity I have, the more I enjoy it,” shared Elms candidly.

In a freewheeling chat with exchange4media, Elms talks about criticality of analytics, India’s digital lead, Initiative’s four principles and bringing the joy back to the business, among other things...


On emerging trends in the media and advertising space...
There are three big trends that we are all grappling with – on which Initiative has a particular focus on. First is in the space of consumer insights and helping brands connect with people. Second is analytics and it continues to be of utmost importance. Lastly is content. Media companies are becoming adept at leveraging relationships so that we can take our partnerships and insights to new levels and provide brands with really solid messaging platforms, which when connected to our analytics and insights can only get more exciting.

On criticality of analytics for the media and advertising world today...
Analytics is imperative and a must-have for agencies and good marketing partners. We are making big strides in this field. We are using analytics to understand the most efficient channels and the most effective vehicles.

On India’s digital play...
There are so many opportunities in India within the digital mobile space and so much freedom in this country to really expand that. Some of the work that Initiative is doing here is leading Initiative global. India has so much the rest of the world can learn from.

On Initiative’s four principles: Fast, brave, decisive, simple...
A few months ago we decided to give our culture a little bit of a refresh. So we have adopted the four principles and we did that because we wanted to stand for something more than just a media buying company. We wanted to have a code of conduct for how we behave as partners for our clients and the concept was based on the notion of barefoot running, which is a story about the evolution of shoes and how in the beginning of time we could walk barefooted and we could feel the soil beneath our feet, we could run faster. But we then added layers of complexity around that, with shoes and laces and airbags. So we think we have added complexity to our business. We have added new tools that have fancy names and layers of process. To live up to the notion of barefoot running, we came up with the four principles. So we have developed rules by which we engage within our company.

As an example, to organise a meeting that has 10 people involved would typically take a couple of weeks to get everyone’s schedule together. If we can get half of those people in two days, we’ll go ahead and have the meeting to save time and then we have prepared a way to share the results of the meeting with the people who missed it. It can keep a lot of momentum going.

On message agencies and advertisers in India...
My message would be to ask them to have more fun and to get back to the joy of the business – whether that means recreating your culture or having the right people on your team. Our world has such volumes of opportunities to recreate ourselves that there isn’t any reason why every agency shouldn’t be the most fun place to work.


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