IMPACT Creative Talks: 'Revival of demand is the key to survival'

Panellists Rohit Ohri, Virat Tandon, Raj Kamble, Amit Akali and Hemant Misra presented their views on ‘Network Agencies vs. Independent’

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 2, 2020 3:43 PM
impact creative talks

In the second episode of IMPACT’s weekly webinar series, Creative Talks, an esteemed panel of experts presented their views on ‘Network agencies vs. Independents’ with an aim to explore who will be able to keep their head above water better -- Network agencies or Independents? The panellists for the webinar were Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO, FCB India; Virat Tandon, Group CEO, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group; Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations; Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer, What's Your Problem; Hemant Misra, Managing Director, Magic Circle Communications Pvt Ltd., and the session was moderated by Neeta Nair, Assistant Editor, IMPACT Magazine. 

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman and CEO, FCB India, kick-started the virtual conference by presenting his views on how COVID-19 has affected the revenue situation and client sentiments. “This is a situation that is affecting everybody; it’s not about affecting independent or network agencies. This is an all-pervasive impact, not just on the advertising industry but on almost every industry. We are seeing a revival of demand and that’s the key. It is not so much about whether we are going back to work or what’s happening to the revenue. I think the starting point is consumer demand is increasing and June has been a good month for many of our clients. So we are hopeful that over the next few months, we will see some traction and some normalcy,” he said. 

Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations explained why it has been favourable for Independent agencies even during this unprecedented situation. He said, “In the Q1, people didn’t know where they were heading to but now, we’ve got a bit of idea. So we are also taking lots of invites for new businesses and also pitching to big clients perhaps every week, which is quite surprising. Besides, the clients are also looking at agencies, who can fit into their culture and budget for the next few years. So it is positive for independent agencies.” 

Explaining how having an FMCG-oriented portfolio helped their business in the COVID-19 scenario, Virat Tandon, Group CEO, Mullen Lowe Lintas Group said: “It’s fortunate that our portfolio is mainly FMCG oriented. Yes, of course, we have been impacted but maybe more secure because of our FMCG portfolio. Clients are looking at the coming quarter positively, so there is a lot of new briefs, a lot of things that had input on the back burner, those have come on the front burners. Work hadn’t stopped, somehow even in the previous quarter, everyone was very busy in scenario building among other things. Now, it seems there is real work and projects that we are working on, clients are optimistic and are willing to put money. So it’s actually better. Some non-core clients had taken a break because they were severely impacted, have now come back, which is a good sign.” 

Talking about the agency-client relationship, Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer, What's Your Problem, explained how their agency has done well this year as compared to last year: “Honestly, I think for an agency like ours, we have an extremely strong relationship, we have more of marriages than flings and by calling them flings, I think we would call them more of wooing clients. I think projects are a great way for someone like us to get into business with some of the biggest clients. We are doing it with Tanishq, Lenovo and some of the largest brands of the country. And we look at the project the same way we look at a retainer. We actually have had fantastic relationships with our clients and we do more than one project. And I think retainers are going to be a small composition of the way everybody earns. So I think we are going to be earning through projects, productions and even products, platforms, media and digital. The agency model itself will have to be changed and it has to be a lot more flexible. We are one of the agencies that have done better than last year and there are businesses that we have won in the last three months and there are categories which are spending far more and getting us retainers, especially OTT and Health insurance.” 

Being the youngest agency on the panel, Hemant Misra, Managing Director, Magic Circle Communications Pvt Ltd., spoke about the impact that COVID-19 has on their business as compared to the rest. He said: “ I guess by the sheer fact that we are not very large, the bull seems to have grazed our hair and gone away. On relationships with agencies, I guess most independent agencies, certainly ours are much stronger than a client in the agency relationships. These are clients who’ve founded our agency and have invested in us. Beyond my account of clients, the other clients too, we haven’t had an impact that’s shaken up the agency and made me review if there’s a future for us or not.” 

Speaking further on revenues, Misra added, “I must say, I’m so happy that I don’t work for a network agency where there’s nobody asking me that question - Are the revenues back? For us, it’s very important to understand that the talent that we have, is a big asset that any independent agency has. And thankfully, we had no problem in retaining, in fact, we are hiring some more talent because the work hasn’t gone down, interestingly. While some businesses have really come to zero and some are still struggling, work seems to be very very high, which gives me a strong indication that clients/brands are very bullish and they are expecting a much stronger comeback.”

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