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Guest Column: The Circus that is Indian Digital: Arnab Mitra, MD, LIQVD ASIA

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Guest Column: The Circus that is Indian Digital: Arnab Mitra, MD, LIQVD ASIA

With over 20 years of history, Indian Digital Industry is still very nascent in it’s way of operating. From the largest digital association of the country to the digital standards of the industry, everything is in a mode of experimentation all the time. While there is a lot of admiration towards “staying hungry & staying foolish,” I am personally finding this state of flux absolutely chaotic and idiotic for a very long time now. To the tune that I really feel as a country we are about to miss the bus of being at a stellar position with our digital marketing mettle despite having the largest and youngest digitally savvy base of consumers in the whole damn world.

Indian Digital Marketing scene has always been the playing ground of handful people who held the fort for over a decade while the rest of the marketing and advertising industry barely even believed in Digital. They in fact kept questioning the sheer viability of the medium as a marketing tool until a day had arrived where there were no choices left but to accept the change. That’s exactly when this other set of people entered the scene who were the latest to accept digital marketing but all of a sudden became the “thought leaders” of the Industry. Since this group of people is also the elite lot of marketing of yester year, it wasn’t really difficult for these guys to attract the media attention as well. But them getting the attention is only the smaller half of the problem. The bigger half begun when they started sharing their beliefs, their POVs, their ideas and their constricted approach towards a new medium, which they barely understood! In their need to accept Digital fast, what they forgot is that Digital isn’t just literature. It’s indeed a way of life. Their gaps of understanding of the medium, mixed with least practice made them provide anything but the right direction to this buzzing industry.

Being from the earlier group, I am worried. Actually very worried, that unless we stop this in 2018 and move to a model where we give chairs of the right associations, forums, panels and organizations to the right set of people, we might end up moving at a speed, to a height, where we lose out on scaling to the deserving limits.

Digital offers us an equal opportunity as a marketing tool. TV, Print, OOH, and Radio, everything else is very different in different countries. Therefore, digital is our one honest equal podium to either win or lose to the rest of the world without having an opportunity to complain. That’s exactly why 2018 should provide us with the courage to look beyond “you scratch mine-I scratch yours” model and actually put people with abilities, technical knowledge and the right skill set over just gift of the gab. While some might take a moral high ground and say that “why do we need to win at all?” My one liner to them would be that “Nobody has ever made it big in business by losing it to others” and no, Haar ke jeetnewale ko KUCH nehi kehte hai…in fact nobody even remembers them.

With Digital, we want to WIN. We want to rule at Cannes. We want to guide the world to a path of Innovation. No, not just through me-too businesses. But through uniques. The first timers. We want to be the new normal. For that we need to accept a lot of changes.

Let 2018 be the year of change. Let’s begin with changing people. Let’s park few of them with Life time achievement awards and retire them from deciding for this new age. Let the new, young shenanigans decide the fate of the future of marketing in the country. Don’t expect the digitally challenged generation to understand how to use the same medium as a marketing tool just because it hurts their ego to accept that nobody can champion everything. It’s impossible to understand anything well enough that you yourself do not practice. They clearly need practice. But for practice, let’s not take them to visit headquarters of Google, Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB, etc. They need to practice digital using their own mobile phones and laptops, sitting at their own homes. Let’s be cognizant that their motivation is not to do anything new any more. They want to settle down with a high packet of retirement funds and travel across the world.

Look around and see how only youngsters are the torchbearers of the innovation baton worldwide. Jack Ma and Colonel Sanders are an exceptional bunch; one can’t engineer that lot. They happen, and clearly, they didn’t happen to India for a very long time. The question is, do we want to live like that? For how long? Or want to give the new a chance? If your answers to my questions are no and yes respectively, and you deep inside know that you are actually blocking, not only a place for a youngster but also the growth of Digital in India, it’s your turn to do something new. Move on! Let the young, fast, agile India take over the marketing for the future. If you are reading this article in the chief office of a brand, put that young dude/dudette as the Chief Marketing Officer and see your brand rise. Don’t hide behind grey hair and experience levels to hone your hypocritical oxy-moronish approach towards doing the new the new way.

Let’s change those and look for a new fresh approach.

Oh yes, Happy New Year to you too!

Arnab Mitra is the Managing Director of LIQVD ASIA.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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