Cannes Lions 2019: There’s real focus on all aspects of the business this year: Tim Andree

Tim Andree, Executive Chairman and Global CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, rates India as its highest growing market and says all global clients are looking to India

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Updated: Jun 19, 2019 3:43 PM

The festival has come back, says Tim Andree, Executive Chairman and Global CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, referring to Cannes Lions 2019, which more marketers are attending than earlier. Andree, who took over additional charge as CEO of the network in January this year, has made shaping the ‘One Dentsu’ philosophy his agenda, even as he moves to restructure the business and align brands under broad business lines to make it more simple. 

Here are excerpts from a conversation he had with exchange4media on the sidelines of the festival: 

What is your sense of the Cannes Lions festival this year? And what are the trends that you see?
I think the festival has come back. In the last couple of years, I saw it gravitating much more towards the old world - focus on just creativity and awards - but this year there is real focus on all aspects of the business. We have got all our media partners here. The more senior clients have now come back. And they are coming here not only to celebrate and understand creativity but they are going to cross the entire spectrum of capabilities and really want to do business at the Cannes festival. So, the theme really is on integration across the marketing ecosystem, and then how to continue to use the capabilities in data to drive better effectiveness.

What are the biggest challenges towards fostering a healthy client-agency relationship in today’s times?
One of the core needs is the constant focus on involvement of trust. I think trust has broken down in some cases between clients and agencies, and part of that has to be a second area of focus, i.e., getting the balance right between short term and long term. To have a real trusting relationship with the client, you have to really be committed to the long term performance of the business. In this day and age with fragmentation of media and quick capability that we have to assess data and then gather insights, you know there is a tendency to try to think in even shorter time-frames. But, clients are really looking for long term commitment, someone who understands their business and then helps them mitigate the cost of complexity. So, we need to focus on the long term and understand their business, build trust over time, and then make it real. 


Tell us about your view of the India market of DAN and where does it stand in the scheme of things for the company globally?
India is consistently our fastest growing market, both because of the nature of the economy and the overall macro-economic situation in India. We have excellent leadership in India. We have built a tremendous team. Our business there developed rather late and it developed largely from the areas of digital and outdoor and creativity because media has been a stronghold of our competitors. We saw the importance of diversifying the entire offering for our clients in delivering solutions. And we have been able to create an incredible competitor in the marketplace. It really is one of the growth pillars for our entire APAC region.

Tim Andree with Ashish Bhasin at the festival

What are your expectations going forward from India and the Indian leadership?
I think they are going to continue to develop the group and diversify the offerings. I expect it to continue to grow and gain leadership particularly in the areas of digital and experience. Our creative offering there I think is excellent. We have been shortlisted here in Cannes, particularly with our Webchutney business in may be 13 different categories, so we expect leadership. For DAN, India is going to be a lead market in the future in this industry, and that’s the combination of having great talent, great leadership and the makings of a real driver for growth. All of our global clients are looking to India. And so it’s not just in the Indian market, it’s how the world is looking at India which makes it a priority for us.


How do you see the role of consultancies such as Accenture and McKinsey shape up in the advertising world? And are they potential competition yet to your role as advisors and partners to clients?
Yes, I think we have a new competitive set, and the Accentures and McKinseys are coming in, as are the Deloittes and others. And they are coming from a very different place but we are all heading to the same area where we are trying to mitigate the cost of complexity in the marketing environment, and at the heart of that is really digital marketing transformation. I see the new consultancies are much more involved in our business now as we get into the CRM and the loyalty end of the business, they are much more direct competitors. And also, we see competition in the battle for talent. But, we are coming to the issue in a different way. Our real capability and our industry’s capability is deep knowledge about the consumer and the ability to execute, whereas I think the consultancies have always been much more at the ‘C-suites’ level, advising them how to do something, or really how to be more efficient but not necessarily how to execute through the line. So, our opportunity now is we are taking our capabilities and bringing them up higher into the organization because of the importance of digital transformation to the business transformation that the C-suites need. For years, I’ve said that I wish we could get paid for our ideas, not just our execution. And I think that’s our opportunity. 



‘I appreciate Martin’s compliments; I just don’t know what his motives are.’
We pointed out that former WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has slowly started building up his new company S4 Capital, with acquisitions such as digital production firm MediaMonks and programmatic ad firm MightyHive.

We then asked Tim Andree whether S4 Capital could be potential competition for DAN in, say, five years from now. Here is what he had to say:

“Martin’s an industry figure; I have always admired what he did with WPP - he took a very disjointed industry and formed a holding company model in the 80s, and it had a good run. I watch what Martin says and does. I am wondering why he so compliments us these days. Every time it seems like he goes out to tell everyone that Dentsu has the model that they are trying to emulate, and that S4 is really kind of the closest to Dentsu. I don’t see it that way. I see us as very different, but I am appreciative of his compliments of Dentsu in the recent years. I just don’t know what his motive is. He seems to say that his S4 model’s taking learning; you could say it’s true, as at Dentsu, we also built our global business slowly. We are much newer than the rest of the traditional competitors. We are highly digital. We are much more media focused. And we don’t have all the legacy. From that perspective, that’s what Martin thinks he has with S4, but it’s going to take a good time to scale. But he is a formidable competitor, and we respect all competitors.”


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