Video: Draftfcb’s Howard Draft in conversation @Cannes Lions

We focus on how we can build other markets that are not as great as our Indian operations, says the Executive Chairman of Draftfcb

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Jun 21, 2012 9:49 PM
Video:  Draftfcb’s Howard Draft in conversation @Cannes Lions

Howard Draft is a visionary entrepreneur who has navigated his way through multiple marketing revolutions. In 2006, he was named Chairman and CEO of Draftfcb, an entity that brought together Draft and FCB, each an acknowledged industry leader. The resulting agency has more than 9,200 employees spanning 94 markets worldwide. Today, as Executive Chairman, Howard is responsible for setting the organisation’s strategic direction, managing key client relationships with major marketers as Beiersdorf, Kraft, Yum! Brands and State Farm, new business development and industry outreach.

Over the last few years, Draftfcb has paid close attention towards crafting the Draftfcb brand architecture globally and has focussed on some of the key markets, where it wants to ensure leadership position. In a conversation with exchange4media, Draft cites India to be one such market, and speaks on why he is optimistic on the India operations. Excerpts:

On India Operations...
We have identified India as one of our key 10 markets, where we have to invest and continue to grow. When we run a company worldwide, in almost 100 markets, it is difficult to be as great as you want to be, in all markets. Our business objective hence is to focus on the key markets where we have to be in the top five. One of the great things from our perspective on India is that we are already in the top five there. We don’t look at India as a market that is crying out for a lot of work from us at the centre – we have an excellent list of clients whom we enjoy long-term relationships with, we love the people there, they are great managers and they know how to build the organisation beautifully. We focus on how we can build other markets in the world that are not as great as our Indian operations.

On how India contributes to building Draftfcb brand, globally...
Their disciplines are very much what we are after – which is the full integration model. They are strong in all areas and very powerful from an intellectual consulting standpoint. I love people who strategically solve business problems and India approaches that very well. When they work with a client, they understand that their job is to sell the client’s products. Over the last couple of years, they have worked very hard in improving the agency’s creative product and we are very happy about that. They brought Chax (K S Chakravarthy) on board and he is a major force in the market. Our media offering in India is strong. The India model really is our model, and it is of the scale and as successful, as we would like it to be.

On challenges that lie ahead for India...
The question over the next couple of years is whether India will continue to grow as it has in the past. Though have not felt it so far, but there is some amount of slowing down in the economy, the interest rates are high and there is inflation. While our business is very healthy there, we would be watching to see how the market dynamics finally pan out. We have to be good partners to our clients and stay focussed on creating the best possible work. We want to create Cannes-level great creative work in our primary and secondary offices. We want to hire disproportionate amount of the best talent we can find in each country, and we want to build on our digital capability. If we do these three things well, we believe that our model will continue to expand.

On digital in India...
It is not growing as quickly as other markets but I am still convinced that digital will be very significant in India, especially when you look at mobile. We need to focus on the role that mobile is going to play. When I was in India talking to some of our global accounts, new media was an important focus area for all of them. You will see some expansion from us in the coming months that will help us develop our new media capability better. We would take the best route possible to make this happen soon.

On the growth drivers that will define advertising...
Each market would be unique as they are in a different place on the technology-advertising spectrum. However, there is no question that consumers, on a daily basis, are bombarded with more forms of communication than ever before. One of the great things about Cannes Lions is that it allows us to focus on doing great work that can impact communication in a quick order. Great advertising has to differentiate itself from other forms of communication and then you need to work with technology and new media to build on consumer relationships. Broad based advertising will build the brand but we would engage with consumers through new media, experiential and all of it coming together.

You will also see media used in a different way to drive traffic. For example, internet would be a very important media for consumers to learn about cars but for the final purchase, you would still need to do more since no one will purchase a car online. The challenge would be to train people to be multi-disciplined, look for the best solutions for our clients and ensure we don’t waste client’s money by throwing media dollars in ways that are not effective.

On ad creatives being responsible for Facebook not delivering for GM...
I totally agree with that. I found General Motors’ point of view difficult to understand on that one. But we saw Ford come back a few days later with how important Facebook is to them. Facebook will evolve – it is a baby right now and we are learning how to use the platform to build relationships. The beautiful thing about Facebook is that consumers really interact with the brand Facebook and if we can be true to the relation consumers have with FB and not abuse it, then we have a great tool at hand. Facebook and Google will continue to grow as media. They are going to hit home runs, hits doubles and evolve, providing great opportunities to use all that media, in very effective ways for our clients.

On by when would India be amongst the top five profit markets for Draftfcb...
It’s not that far away but you need to look at India as great potential. There aren’t enormous agencies in India from a revenue standpoint like there are in number of other markets. We love our operation there and the scale will also come in time.



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