Notes from the Guest Editor’s desk: You can have a strong global network if you are strong locally- Andrew Robertson
As Guest Editor of e4m, Andrew Robertson, CEO, BBDO Worldwide, shares some gems of wisdom, which are quite relevant for the media and advertising industry, whether Indian or global...
I was always under the impression that Editors are the ones who come up with the funny headlines. Being on that side of the desk and having to choose interesting and relevant content is tougher than I imagined. I was very conscious that every idea I threw to a reporter wouldn’t just become a news story or a feature report, but would create a lot of work for them. And that’s a serious responsibility.
The ideas that got tossed around in the editorial meeting were interesting -- from the low cover prices of newspapers in India or the TRPs of Hindi channels. As it does for the rest of the country, the cricket World Cup looms large and without doubt it’s a huge property for advertisers. I am told that there are 250 sponsors tied to the event already -- irrespective of who wins on the field, it will be very interesting to figure out which of the sponsors will be World Cup winners off it.
As far as GECs are concerned, a reporter spoke about how this country has been used to female ‘protagonists’ who are the quintessential suffering women and how this representation is being altered significantly by some leading channels. I believe both can successfully co-exist and prosper. One may identify closely with one character type and yet admire another. We aren’t mono-syllabic. We all play, and want to play, different roles at different times. Who we admire and identify with depends on our mood at the time. Soaps with seemingly regressive storylines and leading characters can do just as well as those with progressive lead women.
There was a lot of discussion about whether expats would succeed as creative directors in a country like India. This issue is not unique to India. In my view it is extremely hard for anyone to move into any new country as a creative director. There are so many cultural touchpoints to learn about. And in a country as enormous and diverse as India, with as rich a culture and heritage, it is even more so.
We spoke about the low prices of news papers in India. I asked why newspaper publishers don’t just make them free. They are as good as free already. The value of the paper lies in the content and consumers are the judge of the quality of content. If the business model works without the cover price, go for it. In a related conversation, we talked about the future of editorial pages. Editors set the agenda for the newspaper. Their opinions matter and shape the way the paper writes. So, the editorials will matter, even if overall readership of them is low.
The other feature report I thought interesting was on the events and activation industry. I work with a simple belief - no scale, no sale. Unless an event can be used to engage millions of consumers beyond those who attend it, it is unlikely to generate significant business growth.
We had a wide-ranging discussion about advertising companies, what they were doing in India and in the rest of the world. I am not a fan of “models”. We are focused on one mission: create and deliver the world’s most compelling commercial content: The Work The Work The Work. And three strategic operating principles deliver it: secure an unfair share of the limited pool of exceptional talent, leverage it as widely as possible across brands, borders, and forms, and use the knowledge, experience, contacts and ideas of the network to grow business internationally and locally. You can only have a strong global network if you are strong locally.
As much fun as I had being an editor, I think I would prefer to just be a reader. There is plenty of interesting, relevant material to enjoy. I hope you do so.
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