Whatever we do has to make business sense & be scalable: Prasoon Joshi

Prasoon Joshi, Exec Chairman & CEO, McCann Worldgroup speaks to e4m on the agency’s 2012 agenda, which includes developing alternate revenue streams

e4m by Noor Fathima Warsia
Updated: Mar 22, 2012 9:28 AM
Whatever we do has to make business sense & be scalable: Prasoon Joshi

McCann Worldgroup has seen a good 2011 and the agency’s success at AdFest has signalled a good start for 2012 too. But McCann’s 2012 agenda is more action-packed than ever before.

Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup India, who was recently also made the President-South Asia for the company, tells exchange4media that apart from focussing on further strengthening its core offering, the company is looking to develop its non-traditional advertising capabilities as well.

The aggressive side of McCann came to the fore in 2011 when businesses such as ICI Dulux, Aircel, General Motors, History TV18 and Jaypee Sports International made way to the agency. In all, McCann saw a robust 40 per cent growth in 2011 over 2010. In addition, the Government of India has handed over one of its most prestigious campaigns, which is directed towards malnutrition, to McCann Worldgroup India.

McCann’s growth in the last two years has come from a robust performance from its youngest brand, Tag, which has in a span of three years added businesses such as Videocon, ESPN, Zee News, Jaypee Group and Dish TV amongst others to its kitty. McCann also grew significantly in Delhi, where both in terms of new businesses and work, the market has steadily added strength to McCann.

One area that McCann has been working to develop is its non-traditional advertising streams such as digital (MRM), healthcare (McCann Healthcare) and events and shopper-marketing (Momentum). The year 2012 will see McCann further focus on these areas in addition to bringing other specialities on its radar.

Intensified focus on existing brands

The company’s concentration on healthcare was visible at the beginning of the year itself when McCann appointed creative director Rajesh Rai for McCann Healthcare. Joshi informed, “Rajesh is a very senior creative resource and I have very high expectations from what Sohan (Shah, Country Head, McCann Healthcare) and Rajesh can do for McCann Healthcare. Our unit is already doing very well and it is very well respected in the healthcare community but I look forward to more in 2012.”

Joshi is of the opinion that McCann digital capability, MRM, is headed in the right direction and has a great leader in Mandeep Sharma, VP and GM, MRM Worldwide, India. MRM is contributing in “healthy double digits” to overall McCann Worldgroup revenues. While Joshi is happy with MRM, he admitted that the company also has its eyes open for any inorganic push that it could give to its digital offering. Joshi said, “Acquisition is a route generally taken by those who do not have capability in a certain area. We have a good digital offering with the right talent and capability but that does not mean we would not be interested if something worthwhile would come along. Inorganic growth is faster but it comes at a price. We are neither averse nor desperate for it.”

McCann Worldgroup was perhaps one of the first to have launched its shopper marketing and events capability, Momentum, in India. But Joshi still sees this as an area of investment in 2012. He said, “The retail boom that one was expecting has not come yet. In a way, we launched Momentum ahead of its time but when retail takes off, we would have a good offering there. Momentum is also trying to work on events. You require a very different kind of appetite for events – it is a very tough business. But the unit has been able to make inroads in corporate events. We have to see how we grow Momentum further in 2012.”

Considering new capabilities

Joshi personally is positive on design and its role in an advertising agency. At present, McCann Worldgroup has an in-house design cell in its Delhi operations, which is led by Anil Manan, Vice President and Executive Creative Director, McCann Erickson. However, Joshi’s plan is to invest in a national-level design capability. He observed, “Design has a great future and we are very keen to invest into that. We have to just decide on how we want to go about it. Some companies have done it through acquisition at a parent company level. At times, it makes sense to do these things at a holding company level because the moment you launch it from within the agency, many clients start expecting it for free or as value add. Truth of the matter is that a new capability means fresh investment if you wish to do any justice to it. It becomes difficult to handle such cases then.”

The other area that has become popular conversation is branded content. Given the expertise of someone like Joshi in the entertainment side of the industry, it is a wonder why McCann has yet not considered bringing any capability on this front. Joshi however has a very clear view on this. He stated, “I have worked on branded content quite a bit and it does excite me. But I wear both, a creative person’s and a business person’s hat. Though things like branded content get me excited, at the end of the day whatever we do has to make business sense and has to be scalable. Right now, the demand for branded content is not enough to give me any desired return. But I am very alert on this and the moment I see the demand for this rising, you will see me act on it very quickly.”

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