"India is still a TV market; getting digital to the heart will take time"
Many big agencies in India are based on the legacy principle of TV first and everything else second, says Keith Smith, President – International, TBWA Worldwide
From featuring a small Apple logo and the tiny words iPad Mini at the bottom in different magazine covers to the Wall Cricket creative for Adidas, TBWA is known for its exceptional creative force. The agency is known for creating disruption and cutting-edge work with brands such as Apple and Absolut Vodka.
Recently, TBWA acquired Magnon Group, a comprehensive digital agency that offers a full spectrum of services. Magnon has been growing strong in India as well as Middle East, New York and Los Angeles. Keith Smith, President – International, TBWA Worldwide said, “We have the opportunity to double in size in the next 18 months.”
TBWA is known for its path-breaking work in different markets, but India still has a lot to learn from the western markets. However, Smith believes that they are very disruptive in every market. “We go to markets not just as TBWA but also with Integer, with completely integrated solutions. We have a strategic discipline called disruption that tries to identify the opportunities and gaps in a market. We do the same things in India as other markets, but we haven’t got the same scale in India. Acquisition of Magnon was an important building block for us in India,” he shared.
According to him, the TV market is very strong in India. A huge chunk still relies on TV and it is an important part of brand building. “Many big agencies in India are based on the legacy principle of TV first and everything else second, so there is still time for that to change. Getting digital to the heart will take some time,” said Smith.
He further added that digital is one of the most exciting things that have happened in advertising since a long time. It is a great opportunity for story-telling for a country such as India that loves story-telling. However, he shared that digital is still at a nascent stage in India, but it is continuing to evolve great digital talent in the way it has for conventional advertising. “We need to make sure that the creative product matches the level of conventional advertising,” Smith added.
The agency is trying to get their mojo back by bringing in expat talent that has spent several years overseas. He said, “We want great and young Indian talent with fantastic digital entrepreneurs like Vineet (Bajpai) and expat talent like Parixit (Bhattacharya). They are the people who know the business of building brands from a global perspective. They have the expertise to train and guide young people at the agency.”
The agency won several Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2013, but Smith believes in doing better. “I don’t think we will ever be satisfied with the performance at Cannes. We didn’t win as many as we thought basis the shortlists, but we won through a broad range of countries,” Smith concluded.For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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