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And India embarks on its own journey of inviting global pitches…

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And India embarks on its own journey of inviting global pitches…

Indian agencies pocketing handsome businesses after their international counterparts have won these businesses globally are fairly common. Indian agencies handling and leading international businesses – that too has been happening with some regularity. But of late, there is a new – albeit encouraging – trend emerging. And this was seen in the cases of Jet Airways and Kingfisher International Airlines, which recently invited ‘global’ pitches in the wake of their international expansion.

Industry leaders believe that this is just the beginning of Indian corporations engaging in such global activities. takes a look at what global pitching implies, and the first traces of it coming from Indian entrepreneurs.

Global pitching comes to India

A global pitch essentially refers to the exercise where organisations invite agencies from across the world to compete for the advertising duties of their business, and the winning agencies then handle the business in the respective geographies. Whether it was Nokia in 2004 or Intel in 2008, Indian media leaders have formed a core part of the team that leads such global pitches. Once the business is won globally, the Indian counterparts usually handle the business in this market as well.

Even as Jet Airways and Kingfisher International Airlines invited ‘global pitches’, these were different from the traditional definition of a global pitch.

Jet Airways had severed a six-year old relation with Network Advertising to sign M&C Saatchi and Starcom Worldwide in January 2007 as its advertising partners. These agencies would handle Jet Airways business across all international markets that it would be operating in, including the US and the UK. The business went up for a creative pitch again this year, and the winner this time was IPG, which created ‘Altitude’ exclusively for the Jet Airways business worldwide. In India, Altitude is operating as a special arm within McCann Worldgroup.

Kingfisher International Airlines has appointed JWT India for its global business. In this case, JWT India is handling the business globally, but it would partner with its international offices when needed.

Media leaders are divided on whether these are ‘global pitches’, but everyone is unanimous on the fact that the Indian entrepreneur has arrived on the global scene, and global pitches, irrespective of the form that they take in this market, are in the offing.

Prasoon Joshi, Regional Creative Director, South and Southeast Asia, McCann Erickson, explained, “With Indian clients going global, this is a natural fallout.” Agreeing with him, Nitish Mukherjee, MD, Leo Burnett India, said, “As more Indian companies spread their wings internationally, there would be more opportunities for Indian advertising agencies to partner them.”

According to Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia, two kinds of action would be seen on this front. He said, “We will see that the Indian market would have a leading say in global pitches and we would see more Indian corporations asking for global pitches as they expand globally.”

Umesh Shrikhande, CEO, Contract Advertising, reiterated that Indian agencies could lead global pitch process more in the future. He added, “This could happen for reasons varying from client begin based in India, or India being the key market for the brand to Indian talent being equipped to deal with the category.”

Mahesh Chauhan, President, Rediffusion DYR, compared this to the days when the creative hubs were largely based out of Europe and the US. He explained, “There was a certain world order, and that order was probably unequal. One’s aspiration career-wise was to move from India to Europe. The new order where India is going global would have more instances of global businesses operated out of India.”

The experiences of global accounts

It is not as if global accounts or businesses are new to Indian advertising heads. One example of Chauhan’s point on more instances of global businesses being operated out of India is seen in the China-based company Lenovo. Ogilvy India has been handling Lenovo’s global business for some time now. Other instances of Indian advertising gurus handling global businesses are seen in cases like the Unilever brand Radiant. JWT India’s CCO Agnello Dias heads this business and the worldwide creative teams of this business report to him.

Speaking on some of the challenges of working on a global account, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman, NCD, Ogilvy India, and Vice Chairman Ogilvy Asia Pacific, said, “The key always is to understand the consumer, and so the big challenge of a global account is to know and learn the consumer of a particular country and that is where global presence can help an agency. For instance, it would be stupid for Ogilvy India to create something for the Czech audience – we may as well connect and seek help of Ogilvy Czechoslovakia than just shoot in the dark.”

He is of the opinion that if a client goes global, there are chances that they should continue to work with their own agency. “If Fevicol goes global, obviously Ogilvy would be the agency handling the business,” Pandey added.

Prasoon Joshi said here, “There are very few of us who have not been exposed to global businesses. There can be some problems initially like logistics, how to manage and communicate with people in different languages, but that can be overcome. The question is, are we capable of thinking global? The answer to it is ‘Yes’.”

And given the way India and Indian agencies are growing, we couldn’t agree more.


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