'There will be a shift in how industry works with more focus on independent agencies'

e4m Conclave: Mark Read, CEO, WPP, shared that after being hit by Covid in March last year, the company started seeing growth in India from August-September

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 19, 2021 9:44 AM
mark Read

At the 20th edition of exchange4media group’s flagship event Conclave, Mark Read, CEO, WPP, took to the virtual stage to deliberate on whether it is time for ad agencies to reboot. Read was the Keynote Speaker of the event this year. In a fireside chat with exchange4media Co-founder Nawal Ahuja, Read uncovered issues facing the ad industry today, how it needs to change as the pandemic alters the shape of the world, sustainability, social media and more.

The umbrella theme for the event this year was ‘Mutation of Marketing DNA’. Read too shared some of his Covid-led learnings. “The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of our industry and what is the importance of getting the message right,” he said. On how the pandemic helped him on a personal level, he said, “One thing that I have learnt during the pandemic is the importance of communication and how we can all be there for each other, be it at work or personally. Empathetic leadership will be a good change that the pandemic will bring in.”

Read shared that his company has embraced remote working and that has led to more efficiency and quicker turnaround time. “We are looking at new investments in marketing, technology and data to support this growth,” he said. He emphasized how WPP has come from offering technology solutions for clients to creating them for clients. “We are a very different company from what we were five years ago,” Read stated.

Speaking about the roles of creative and media, he opined that both disciplines need to work closely as what matters to the client is the idea and not where it’s coming from. “According to me, the best people are the collaborative ones,” he said. Read also spoke of the relevance of creativity today. “In this world, the demand for creativity has not gone away. Creativity is still critical for our clients in all its forms,” he asserted.

Furthermore, through the session, Read uncovered different pieces of the puzzle like digital and social media. He remarked, “We definitely need to provide accountability in digital media.” Furthermore, given the immense scrutiny that brands have to grapple with these days owing to social media, he advised, “Brands have to make a decision whether they want to be on social media or not.” He noted that today it's not about just digital or just traditional, but it's about the right channel for the task that a brand or company wants to accomplish.

Read also spoke of the India scheme of things for WPP and addressed the importance of businesses embracing sustainability and widening their focus beyond profit. He added that at WPP, the company has always had sustainability on their priority list. “We look at it as a way of doing better business. Companies/business leaders will realise the importance of sustainability even more in the post Covid world,” he said.

Read noted that after Covid-led bumps, that hit the industry from March last year, the company soon started witnessing growth in the Indian market. “We have started seeing growth in India from August-September,” he informed. Sharing more nuances from the Indian market, Read added,” The opportunity in the Indian market is not any different from any other market in the world. We work in India just the way we work in the rest of the world. We would also love to have more leaders from the Indian market to take on global roles.”

Speaking about different sectors and how they were faring for WPP, Read revealed that FMCG has continued to be strong. “We saw automotive make a comeback, followed by technology players.”

Commenting on the current state of the industry and how it is geared towards a reboot, Read observed, “There is going to be a major shift in how the industry works with more focus on independent agencies.”



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