Indian economy is growing at 5-6% which is terrific for IPG: Terry Peigh, MD

Peigh opens up on the India scheme of things for the group, shining through turbulent times, acquisitions and more

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Sep 27, 2019 8:46 AM

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Outperforming several of its peers, ad giant Interpublic Group recently reported $2.1 billion in revenue in Q2, with organic growth of 3 per cent. Furthermore, putting up a stellar show at Cannes Lions 2019, the group picked up more Grand Prix than all the other global holding companies combined. IPG's Managing Director Terry Peigh, who recently visited India, not only shared his tracking study conducted across six countries right from 2009 but also chatted with exchange4media on the India scheme of things for the group, shining through turbulent times, acquisitions and more. He also let us in on what changes the digital revolution has brought about in paradigms and behaviour of consumers. 

Edited excerpts below:

At a time when advertising agencies are navigating such a turbulent landscape with profits and revenues shrinking, IPG’s revenue increased by 9.1 per cent on an as-reported basis, and the net income went up by 16.9 per cent to $169.5 million. What do you attribute this growth to?

About 10-15 years ago, our company made a decision to reboot Interpublic, to go out and seek the highest level of creative, thinking, strategic and marketing talent in the world. We were successful in bringing these people who came to Interpublic with a goal and vision to seek and embrace the world’s best talent. It pays off in the work we are doing and our performance at Cannes. And there is more to come. We have an operating model for our cross-channel businesses that we work on primarily and open architecture where we integrate agencies together to serve client’s needs which is a great driver of our success globally.

What are the kind of growth and revenues IPG has witnessed from the Indian market point-of-view?

I know the economy is growing quite nicely at 5 or 6 per cent, which is terrific. We wished the US was growing at 5 or 6 per cent. We’ve got exceptionally strong brands here such as McCann, Lowe Lintas, Mullen Lowe, and FCB. This is one of the regions of the world where we're hitting on all three of our major global brands.

Can you elaborate on the acquisition of Acxiom and what the purchase will do for the holding company?

It brings us much closer to better understanding the consumer and the media consumer, helping us do media planning more effective. Acxiom has been very successful and have worked well for clients. We will better leverage that as we go forward.

Unlike many groups, you’ll have never siloed digital from rest of the business. How has that worked out for you?

In terms of integration across operations, we’ve seen great success with our open architecture model. The culture of IPG is one that allows great collaboration across disciplines.

There were quite a lot of structural changes with your competitors in 2019. Others, like WPP, have been active on the acquisition front. Do you expect any big changes within IPG?

We’ve made a major acquisition last year of Acxiom which was of US$2.3 billion, a huge one for us. It is a major strategic acquisition for us to help us get closer to customer data and we are incorporating that in most of our media work right now. We are very confident about how that’s going to pan out for us.

What are the paradigms of traditional marketing that you see changing?

The consumer today is more engaged than ever before, especially here in India. He wants to learn more about products, wants to tell others about products which is a great advantage for brands and marketers because you have a consumer that is able, willing and interested. The consumer is saying, “I am shifting to what I trust. I trust personal, one-to-one communication more than ever before, so I need to get more.” They are much more demanding of products and want higher delivery of products. There is much more engagement in the entire process. We’re seeing consumers say that it is a two-way process, I want to be involved, I want to have a communication and give feedback about the product. We’ve seen the whole notion of ‘private labels’ change because what represents a brand is shifting dramatically. They do not have the notion of ‘private labels’ as ‘cheap and poor quality’. Brands are now ill-prepared to face the real battle of private labels.

What are the areas IPG will be increasingly investing in as we go forward?

We’ve always been a big investor in talent and it will always remain a big area for us. These days, with the problems that other holding companies are having, we are getting a lot of resumes and retainer people which we are embracing happily.

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