India is our Number 1 market in terms of market-share: Kelly Clark, Global CEO, GroupM

Kelly Clark, Global CEO of GroupM, talks to exchange4media about the ongoing transformation phase of the agency, the kind of changes that he has brought about so far, merger of MEC and Maxus, and plans for India in the global scheme of things at GroupM

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Updated: Nov 4, 2017 9:08 AM

In September 2016, soon after his appointment as Global CEO of GroupM, the media investment group of WPP, Kelly Clark had stated, “GroupM is in a great position to help our clients win in an incredibly competitive marketplace. Our investments in data, technology and most importantly, our talented people, will help us achieve that ambition. It will require a lot of change and a united focus, so I can’t wait to get started.” His optimism and energy are evident as he talks to exchange4media during his recent India visit, on the kind of changes that he has brought about so far - one big step being the merger of MEC and Maxus - as well as his plans for India in the global scheme of things at GroupM. He places great faith in the India leadership, and says India is the fastest growing among GroupM’s top 10-15 markets around the world. Here are excerpts from a conversation with Kelly Clark:

How would you assess the year at GroupM since you took over as Global CEO last year?
I would say it has been an action-packed year, a year of change in many ways, including the significant structural change. We’ve rolled out Wavemaker, a new agency formed by the merger of Maxus and MEC. We’ve also made significant investment in Essence, an agency that GroupM acquired almost three years ago. We have a special approach that involves a very deep and meaningful way of thinking about data for clients and we see demand for that from more clients around the world, so we’re making significant investments there too. We’re also rolling out our [m]Platform initiative, which puts data at the heart of the way all our agencies work with clients. We’ve made massive investments and progress, yet much to do in the coming few years... but we’re satisfied with progress made in the first year. We’re also putting greater accountability and responsibility in the hands of our local leadership teams, including here in India.

What is the rationale behind the merger of Maxus and MEC to form the new company Wavemaker?
We were looking at the changes we needed at GroupM to drive greater accountability for clients and also to ensure that we were using our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible. We also saw many similarities and a shared culture between MEC and Maxus, hence there was a natural affinity in bringing those two leadership teams together. They had clients that shared the same requirements from their agency partners around the world. So we were able to combine those two businesses to create what is now one of GroupM’s largest global networks and one of the largest agency networks in the world. The progress is good so far, we’re well on our way to launch Wavemaker in India within the next month and we’re expecting great things from that business.

When do we see [m]Platform being launched in India?
We’re in the process of putting the [m]Platform infrastructure in place. The technology for [m]Platform is now available to our teams in India. They are now adapting it to the local market, working with a number of clients, working with our media vendor partners to ensure we have all the possible data assets to be successful in the Indian context. So over the coming months, you can expect to see lots of news about [m]Platform and our success here in the Indian market.

Where do you place India as a market in the global scheme of things for GroupM?
India is among the Top 5 markets for GroupM globally, in terms of revenue profit. It is our Number 1 market in terms of market-share. It is the fastest growing among our top 10-15 markets around the world. So India is at the top of our priority markets. We have a great leadership team complemented by talented creative people working with world class clients, delivering great solutions, and I’d like Sir Martin Sorrell to remain bullish about our business here in India.

Dominic Proctor, former Global President of GroupM, had expectations that market development would be led from India in future. Has that happened yet?
There is some of that increasingly happening, as I mentioned, we have a great leadership team here and there is an inspired thinking about the way our business model and in the way we partner with clients. We’ve taken some of the best practices we see here in terms of talent management in terms of e-commerce, data and how we apply data to clients businesses and we’ve adopted those as part of our global strategy. I think we will see even more of that in the coming years. If you look at the market-share in India and the roll-out of global best practices from India, both on the client side and our side, only great things come out of that as we further integrate India with our global leadership structure.

(Transcription credit: Allan DSouza)

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