I fear we may end at around 5% growth: Anita Nayyar

The CEO of Havas Media group, India and South Asia, believes that a crunched festive season, GST and demonetisation have resulted in a triple whammy for media agencies

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Sep 22, 2017 7:53 AM

Anita Nayyar is one of the rare women CEOs of a media agency in India. She has built the Havas Village brick by brick during her long association with the company. Nayyar talks to exchange4media about the current slowdown of the market, IPL rights effect and her three decades in the industry. 



We are a month away from Diwali. The festive season is considered as the most exciting phase for media planners. More new brands are launched and marketers look forward to spending. As the head of a leading media agency, how are you gearing up for the upcoming season?


Well, for many years and this year as well, the festive season has been crunched into four weeks. For the ad industry, it’s a triple whammy with demonetisation, GST and a crunched festive season. Now Shrad has slowed the market down. However, we are hopeful that things will improve post Shrad as we move into the festive season.


The last two months, July and August, were reported to be hit by GST quite significantly. Many media planners complained about the drop of up to 20-25% in the total business. What is your take on it?


Barring a few sectors like automobiles and BFSI, GST’s impact on advertising was evident. There was a slowdown in spends in July and August. What has been lost in these three months is difficult to recover. However, it’s not just India. There has been an overall slowdown globally as well. The latest comments from Sir Martin Sorell of WPP points in that direction. Against the earlier predictions of an expected growth of the ad industry by up to 13%, I fear we may end at around 5% if we are lucky. After the 2008-09 recession, this has been one of the worst slowdowns.


There is a lot of speculation around Star India increasing the ad rates after winning the IPL bid. Do you second it?


I am assuming there would be some hike but it cannot be prohibitive. The increase can’t/ shouldn’t be more than what the market can absorb. However, it’s still early to talk about it as IPL is more than six months away. I’m sure Star has its strategy in place.


As a media planner, how do you look at the growth of the digital space?


IPL last year received a lot of traction on digital. Digital’s reach and its acceptance has increased dramatically. This medium becomes important for us specifically when a marketer wants to reach a focused audience and more importantly, it is the most accountable medium today. But having said this, I feel television will continue to be a hot space for many years to come. Both will co-exist. Moreover, now we focus on audio-visual and not on the medium it will be used on. 


You are an industry veteran who has spent close to three decades here. What are the positive and negative changes that you have seen in the industry over the years?


The industry has evolved on many fronts especially with the advancement of technology. From one channel to many channels, one device to many devices, one screen to many screens and so on. In my opinion, what possibly did not work is the disintegration of creative and media. This segregation has caused a drop in revenues for both disciplines. Also, for brands, it was a convenient option to have both media and creative duties resting with one group or agency. There was a clear accountability by the agency towards the brands. We at Havas have actually reverted to the Village model with the "Together Initiative" wherein both media and creative have been integrated today.

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