NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 1: No Neil French as WPP bosses tell him to shut up; but Ogilvy’s Tham takes a peep into creative irreverence

AdAsia 05 kicked off on Monday minus one star speaker – Neil French, WPP’s celebrated Global Creative Director, who has now put in his papers and is serving his notice period. Sexism may not have been on his mind when he spoke to an audience in Toronto last month, but his outspoken remarks about women appears to have made WPP bosses see red and ask him not to speak at the ongoing event.

exchange4media News Service 22-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 1: No Neil French as WPP bosses tell him to shut up; but Ogilvy’s Tham takes a peep into creative irreverence

AdAsia 05 kicked off on Monday minus one star speaker – Neil French, WPP’s celebrated Global Creative Director, who has now put in his papers and is serving his notice period. Sexism may not have been on his mind when he spoke to an audience in Toronto last month, but his outspoken remarks about women appears to have made WPP bosses see red and ask him not to speak at the ongoing event.

According to accounts of French’s speech at the Toronto event – ‘A Night with Neil French’ – he is supposed to have made remarks about women like “babe”, “bitch” and “crap”. The godfather of creativity is also supposed to have remarked: “Women don’t make it to the top they don’t deserve to”. Shaken by the public furore and online discussions, WPP Group told him to pull out AdAsia 05 as a key speaker.

With French gagged at the last moment, it was left to Tham Khai Meng, Co-chairman, O&M Asia-Pacific, to hold forth single-handed on the session on “Irreverence in Advertising”. And Tham did so with aplomb and a fair deal of irreverence, too, when he put on show some 25 television spots, which tested social thinking and standards on religion, sickness, sex and racism.

“What pushes an idea to the realm of greatness is challenging the norm. All the ads I have shown you are irreverent. Irreverant of themselves. Irreverent of the genre. Irreverent of the public. Irreverent of the hand that feeds them – the brand!” Tham said.

Tham’s selection of spots included one a “singing thingy, ok, the male organ singing to music” for an FM station, Benetton’s shocking ad showing a family with an AIDS victim, which shocked the world in the early 90s, a nun gluing on the broken penis on a statue, and many more. Explained Tham about the rationale of such irreverence: “The key to great ideas is irreverence. Creative people have to be irreverent. Irreverence and creativity have to go hand in glove.”

In a tribute to French, Tham said, “As you know by now, my friend Neil, who was supposed to be here today on the same stage, has this to say: Irreverence is everything – the end justifies the means – irreverence is all. If an idea is not irreverent, it’s probably not that great.”

Tham ended his presentation on a typically irreverent note, the last slide saying in bold letters: FCUK YOU ALL. One got the feeling that he made up for his missing friend.

The day ended with a delightful rundown on the emerging digital world that is confronting both agencies and their clients by Christopher Graves, President, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Asia Pacific. This was a peep into the world of blogs, flogs, wikis, podcasts that it increasingly turning marketing communications on its head and posing unforeseen challenges.

“Much as blogs are a fantastic tool to reach out to consumers at a very low cost, they can sometimes destroy a brand in next to no time, like it happened in the case of the ‘Kryponite’ bike lock in the US,” cautioned Graves. He also cautioned agencies and clients to resist the temptation of putting out false blogs or flogs, as that can backfire as it “happened in the case of Mazda’s Halloween3 blog”.

Co-panelist Deborah Malone, Publisher, inter national ist, USA, mentioned the need for “tracking blogs to stop malpractices”.

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NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 3: Agencies must shift from being creative suppliers to solutions providers, says FCB-Ulka’s Anil Kapoor

FCB-Ulka’s MD & CEO, Anil Kapoor, calls upon ad agencies to shift to a new paradigm in the way they perceive themselves: agencies should be strategic partners of their clients and play a brand architect’s role, to get out of the destructive cycle the industry is in.

exchange4media News Service 24-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 3: Agencies must shift from being creative suppliers to solutions providers, says FCB-Ulka’s Anil Kapoor

SINGAPORE: After two days of broader deliberations, Day 3 of AdAsia 05 turned the spotlight on what Asia holds out to the world. It was about Asian brands, brand management and the way forward for advertising in the brand resurgence that is happening in Asia.

Setting the tone through his presentation on a ‘Made in India’ model for the advertising industry, FCB-Ulka’s Managing Director & CEO, Anil Kapoor, first took the audience back to the basics with the historical contribution of India to the world – discovery of astronomy, mathematics, medicine – and of course Kamasutra.

“India has a history of knowledge creation and sharing the same. Perhaps a ‘Made in India’ strategy could help the advertising industry, which has been in the throes of a crisis for quite sometime, find a way out of the woods,” he said.

Client-agency relationships had been under severe strain for quite sometime, leading “to a destructive cycle”, Kapoor said, adding, “This is all because of quarterly performance pressures and shareholder activism. There has been a 30 per cent rise in ‘forced resignations’. And CMO tenures have hit an average of under 24 months.”

What is the way out? Kapoor’s solution: “Ad agencies have to shift to a new paradigm in the way they perceive themselves and their role. Agencies should be strategic partners of their clients – they have to play a brand architect’s role.”

He held that agencies had lost their way with “creativity becoming very narrow-focussed and specialised in the last 30 years. In the process, agencies forgot their basic role – to provide the big idea to their clients on the basis of their understanding of consumer needs and behaviour”.

It is ideas that matter in the ultimate analysis. The iPod, Amazon and Seven Eleven were brilliant ideas that drove the business of their respective clients, Kapoor said. He gave the instance of his own agency, FCB, in the US, which, many decades ago, was asked by its client in California to come up with a campaign to increase orange consumption.

“But no consumer can actually consume more than one or two oranges. So, in a creative brilliance, the agency hired an engineer who came up with the world’s first juicer! Bingo, a glass of orange juice requires four to five oranges to get that much juice. The campaign followed. And for the last 93 years, Sunkist has never reconsidered its relationship with FCB. The big idea always works with a client,” Kapoor asserted.

His prescription for ad agencies was simple – hire top-class talent, who in turn will provide better consumer knowledge. This will pave the way for greater creativity to create “big, defining ideas”. He added, “Agencies have to shift from being creative suppliers and become solutions providers. Only then can the Destructive Cycle make way for a Virtuous Cycle.”

If a McKinsey or a Boston Consulting can get the best minds, why not us, he asked. “Better talent means greater value addition for the client, better focus on strategy and a higher level of trust with clients. Let us remember that no army of mercenaries ever won a war,” he observed.

Adding an international perspective to the discussion was Deborah Malone, Publisher, inter national ist, USA, who said, “Clients nowadays have a ‘break through’ attitude, doesn’t matter how. This could make things difficult for agencies. Besides, new research has begun to show that contrary to conventional marketing wisdom, consumers want better products rather than differentiated products.”

Tanvir Kanji, President of UAE Chapter of the International Advertising Association, commented, “At the end of the day it is all about the 15 per cent issue and cutthroat approach of our media agency brothers.”

The debate is still alive and the ad industry is perhaps yet to find a reliable bridge to cross over from the destructive cycle to the virtuous cycle.

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NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 3: Becoming a global brand the Samsung way – Create the future

SINGAPORE: As the focus shifted to ‘Asia to the World’ on Day 3 of AdAsia 05 here, Samsung became the case study of a great Asian success in ‘Rising to the global challenge’. How did this South Korean conglomerate achieve the position of a global brand?

exchange4media News Service 24-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 3: Becoming a global brand the Samsung way – Create the future

SINGAPORE: As the focus shifted to ‘Asia to the World’ on Day 3 of AdAsia 05 here, Samsung became the case study of a great Asian success in ‘Rising to the global challenge’. How did this South Korean conglomerate achieve the position of a global brand?

Said Seong Soo (Sunny) Hwang, VP and Head of Worldwide Sports Marketing and Communications, Samsung Electronics, “Samsung creates the future; it does not wait for the future to arrive.”

Seong pointed out that till less than a decade ago, Samsung was seen as a “me-too brand”. The group undertook a major brand repositioning initiative starting 1999 to raise the awareness level of the brand to make it a global power brand.

“Today, Samsung is the No. 7 brand in the world and is the most profitable IT company,” he said, adding, “We achieved this through a holistic marketing system, and centralisation of our global communication. Stage One of this exercise established us as a value for money brand.”

In Stage Two of its branding strategy, Samsung wants to pitch the brand and its products at “high life seekers to become a premium, Tier I brand. So, we have launched our ‘Imagine’ campaign this year to achieve this next level,” Seong explained.

He further informed that behind all this was the digital convergence that Samsung as a brand espoused in its communication. “We had the technology. We saw the changes in the market. We realised the importance of convergence in the digital, mobile age. So, Samsung achieved product leadership through Samsung Design,” he said.

The brand building initiative was buttressed by another communication plank – sports marketing. “We are sponsors of almost all major sporting events worldwide. We sponsor Chelsea in the English Premier League. We have been present in all Olympic Games since 1998,” Seong said, adding, “Today, we are a global premium brand and we have achieved this through our success in mobile phones (No. 2 after Nokia), brand management and sports sponsorship marketing.”

Adding to the discussion, Bharat Patel, Chairman, P&G India, said, “Surround marketing is the new buzz, and public relations plays a big role in the external communication for brands.”

Patel provided an interesting insight – companies spend the biggest chunk of their marketing budgets on retailers, followed by advertising, PR and word of mouth. “But surveys have shown that maximum sales are generated in reverse proportion. Word of mouth generates most sales, followed by PR communication and then advertising.”

Shahar Noor, Associate Director, Corporate Communications, Panasonic Malaysia, commented that Samsung had done a “great job of brand building by making mobile phones the pivot of its brand strategy”. He pointed out that advertising and promotions could help build global brands only if the brand “engages its consumers”.

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NEW: AdAsia – Day 3: Can Asian brands rule the world?

SINGAPORE: There are great brands, global brands emerging from Asia. But can they rule the world in a highly competitive market place? Paul Temporal, Group Managing Director, Temporal Brand Consulting, Singapore, thinks they can in certain categories like automobiles, but will find it difficult in the luxury products segment.

exchange4media News Service 24-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia – Day 3: Can Asian brands rule the world?

SINGAPORE: There are great brands, global brands emerging from Asia. But can they rule the world in a highly competitive market place? Paul Temporal, Group Managing Director, Temporal Brand Consulting, Singapore, thinks they can in certain categories like automobiles, but will find it difficult in the luxury products segment.

Temporal, who has authored a book, ‘Asia’s Star Brands’, listed many strategies by which Asian brands can go truly global – strategic assets (OSIM, Singapore), first-mover advantage (Air Asia, Red Bull, Samsung), brand renewal (Nissan), brand identity change (LG, BenQ), challenger/niche branding (Haier of China), multi-pronged positioning (Tiger beer, Thailand), service quality (Wipro) and acquisition (Lenovo).

Temporal pointed out that while all these Asian brands had the potential to rule the world, it would require “key competencies, great skills to achieve emotional connection with consumers, and finally, superlative brand management talent”.

“But it is possible because brands like Samsung, Air Asia, Nissan, LG, Toyota and many others have shown that they can take on the established brands from the US and Europe,” he added.

Temporal provided an interesting perspective as to why Asian brands can take on the Western brands. “Western brands are slow and cumbersome, not agile like Asian brands. This aura of invincibility and complacency may be their undoing. They are also tempted by brand extensions, like Coca-Cola, which launched Vanilla Coke but is now planning to withdraw it,” he pointed out.

Jonathan Sands, Chairman of Elmwood Design, UK, felt that consumers did not care where a product was made as they “go by emotional connect”. He added, “Those behind a brand must themselves breathe the brand to be able to drive it. As they say, an authentic attitude leads to ‘altitude’.”

Temporal pointed out, “Brands need people who can drive the passion behind it. Any brand communication needs an emotional appeal to hang on. The best example is Air Asia of Malaysia. Every employee of Air Asia literally lives and breathes the passion behind the low-cost carrier’s brand appeal and experience.”

The delegates got a glimpse of that the previous day when Tony Fernandes, Air Asia’s Group CEO, was on the dais. Known as Asia’s Richard Branson, Fernandes was at his best – he breathed all the passion he could muster to give an ‘experience’ of his “fun” airline to the audience.

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AdAsia 05 - Day 2: Sri Lanka makes a strong bid, but Pakistan will host AdAsia 2009 in Lahore

This was the talking point right through the day at the Convention Centre at Suntec City: who will win the bid to host AdAsia 2009 – Lahore or Colombo? The buzz was that Pakistan has romped home.

exchange4media News Service 23-November-2005

AdAsia 05 - Day 2: Sri Lanka makes a strong bid, but Pakistan will host AdAsia 2009 in Lahore

SINGAPORE: This was the talking point right through the day at the Convention Centre at Suntec City: who will win the bid to host AdAsia 2009 – Lahore or Colombo? The buzz was that Pakistan has romped home.

The Pakistani delegation indulged in anticipatory celebration right through the morning, distributing embroidered caps, colourful scarfs and dockets and brochures. The fact is that the Pakistani delegates were all over the venue. They appeared to have come prepared. The other buzz was where were the Sri Lankans? The delegation from the Emerald Islands was obviously keeping a low profile.

At the end of Day 2, came the formal presentations and bidding. There were slide shows and cultural dances from the Pakistani side. The last slide said: ‘Say Yes to Pakistan for 2009’.

But the Sri Lankans floored the audience with their presentation and a fervent plea for votes. “We are small. Our advertising industry is fledgling. But we are a beautiful country, we are friendly people. We need your vote. An AdAsia is Colombo will do wonders for our industry. You will not even need visas to come. We will host you in our own houses. Give Colombo AdAsia 2009.”

The applause was thunderous. But the result was to be announced later in the evening at the gala dinner. The morning’s buzz in the convention hall turned out to be correct: Lahore was declared the venue for AdAsia 2009. Colombo will have to wait for another two years before it can make a fresh bid.

Of course, Lahore will be preceded by Jeju, South Korea, as the host and venue of AdAsia 2007.

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NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 2: Print in danger? Says who, asks Bhaskar Das and wins a fan following

If there is one session that will be remembered by delegates at this year’s AdAsia, it will be today’s last sitting on ‘Beyond Print: Lessons from Genghis Khan’. Bhaskar Das, Executive President, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, literally sprang to the defence of the print media with a fusillade of interesting insights.

exchange4media News Service 23-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 2: Print in danger? Says who, asks Bhaskar Das and wins a fan following

If there is one session that will be remembered by delegates at this year’s AdAsia, it will be today’s last sitting on ‘Beyond Print: Lessons from Genghis Khan’. It began with Leslie Fong, Executive VP-Marketing Division of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), proclaiming, “SPH will have to diversify beyond print (Straits Times) even though there is no challenger and we are firmly ensconced in the market.”

His rationale: Those who build fortresses and stay put in its protection, ultimately lose. Those who move on to conquer new territories, win. This is what one has learnt from a great military strategist like Genghis Khan. So, Straits Times, which currently has a 50 per cent share of this consumerist society’s ad spend, must protect its fortress but also look ahead and take positions for the future which looks beyond print.

Bhaskar Das, Executive President, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (BCCL), literally sprang up from his seat – one was left wondering why he got a round of applause even before he spoke anything – and emphatically proclaimed, “Who said newspapers are in danger? They are not.”

His next fusillade: “It is time we stopped thinking of newspapers in the physical sense. It is part of an information process. We have to look at newspapers as something that provides the right platform for advertisers, in other words, we have to co-create a product that suits them. Print has nothing to fear.”

Moderator Christopher Graves, President, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, Asia Pacific, tried valiantly to steer the discussion to the potential threat from new media and online products, but Das simply upped the rhetoric with more esoteric marketing jargon and arguments. And why not – after all he heads the revenue-earning machine of India’s biggest media money-spinner, The Times of India Group.

With further applause – don’t ask me why because I am not too sure of that myself; is it because he had already made a fashion style statement of sorts – Das knew he had made his point. He went for a final push, “Today, the reader’s attention span is split among multiple options. So, instead of worrying about the future of print, we have to think of offering solutions to advertisers. Start seeing the newspaper as part of a communication process and we have to tailor the future newspaper differently.”

Graves made one more attempt to take things back to Leslie Fong and Genghis Khan. But it was too late. Das had taken centrestage – firmly. Graves: “Why will advertisers put their money with print if there are other options?” Das was quick in shooting back: “The advertisements are the end result of this communication process. Let’s worry about our product. We cannot have verticals in a newspaper like children’s section, etc. The whole paper has to change in future to involve children and youth. The problem is not with readers, it is with the managers.”

It was all heady stuff, and the audience loved it. And why not, for Das had introduced a new ‘vertical’ in the convention’s straightjacketed format. This afternoon, he did appear to have taken some learning from Genghis Khan. But Fong seemed more content in staying with Genghis Khan’s broad philosophy: SPH will protect its fortress but also expand into new media. He firmly stayed away from deeper insights.

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NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 2: ‘Marketing an Asian Brand to Asia’, Channel News Asia shows the way

SINGAPORE: ‘Winning in Asia’ is the theme of the ongoing AdAsia here. In keeping with that, the Channel News Asia experience was taken up as a case study for ‘Marketing an Asian Brand to Asia’ today.

exchange4media News Service 23-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 2: ‘Marketing an Asian Brand to Asia’, Channel News Asia shows the way

SINGAPORE: ‘Winning in Asia’ is the theme of the ongoing AdAsia here. In keeping with that, the Channel News Asia experience was taken up as a case study for ‘Marketing an Asian Brand to Asia’ today.

Said Shaun Seow, Deputy Group CEO, MediaCorp Singapore, which runs Channel News Asia, “The idea for this channel was born during the financial crisis of the mid-90s. We wanted to run a news channel on Asia with Asian perspectives, something that views news developments and prioritises news with an Asian point of view in contrast to international television broadcasters, who have a very different perspective.”

As an instance, Seow brought up the coverage by international news channels of the Iraq war – “they went ballistic with that”. From there he went on to the positioning of Channel News Asia. “Around the same time, our part of the world was hit by SARS. In our prioritisation of news, quite obviously SARS took centrestage. And that is what positioning is all about – projecting the right perspectives on news of immediate relevance to our region,” he added.

However, Seow said that the channel had to overcome “Asian prejudice to an Asian brand like Channel News Asia had to face initially”.

Pradeep Guha, CEO, Zee Telefilms, was of the opinion that “for the news format there is enough width and space for different brands to co-exist.” As he said, it was more an issue of pay versus free-to-air. “Also, news itself has to be seen and produced as entertainment for a brand to succeed,” he added.

Seow held a somewhat different view on the issue of news being entertainment. Rather, advertisers preferred channels that provided a “better fit with their brands”, and this was what could tilt the scales, he remarked.

So, how does the Channel News Asia experiment go forward? Said Seow, “Do not judge us through the lenses of international channels. And we will carve out blocks within Asia for better focus and positioning. We will increase the number of feeds to cater to the different Asian markets, but we will ensure that our focus and perspectives remain very Asian.”

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NEW: AdAsia 05 - Day 2: Some insights into marketing low-cost airlines

SINGAPORE: The second day of AdAsia 05 here took off smoothly with a lively discussion on whether marketing can make a difference to low-cost airlines. Holding stage was the Richard Branson of Asia – Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, Air Asia, Malaysia – and Ken Ryan, CEO of Singapore-headquartered Jetstar Asia

exchange4media News Service 23-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 - Day 2: Some insights into marketing low-cost airlines

SINGAPORE: The second day of AdAsia 05 here took off smoothly with a lively discussion on whether marketing can make a difference to low-cost airlines. Holding stage was the Richard Branson of Asia – Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, Air Asia, Malaysia – and Ken Ryan, CEO of Singapore-headquartered Jetstar Asia.

Both agreed that marketing did make a difference, but Fernandes was clear that for low-cost airlines, price was the key, perhaps even more important than marketing. “For our kind of airlines, the price, or fare, has to be the lowest possible. Price is all, it can make or break us. Aviation is a complicated business, and we have to be absolutely disciplined to ensure that we can offer the lowest fares.

” “The objective of running an airline is to take people from point A to point B. However, a majority of people in a country like Malaysia and many Asian countries may not have flown before. It is these potential customers we try to get,” Fernandes explained about the target market.

Agreeing with him, Ryan said, “And that is marketing – grabbing this untapped customer bank. We not only have to entice customers but have to ensure that they come back.”

Fernandes came up with an interesting, and at the same time, humorous insight. “Low fares can actually help people overcome fears of flying. At the height of the SARS epidemic, when people were scared to fly outside their cities or countries, all I had to do was provide rock bottom fares. That temptation was enough to overcome any SARS induced hesitation about flying among my Malaysian customers,” he said.

Both Fernandes and Ryan agreed that beyond pricing, advertising did play a role in ensuring a viable customer base for low-cost airlines. Said Fernandes, “Air Asia came up with a very aggressive ad with three girls chosen from among our cabin crew. The copy said ‘Twice the fun at half the price!’ It was a take-off from the Singapore girl campaign of Singapore Airlines, and it worked for us in this market.”

Fernandes pointed out that low-cost carriers had to consciously cut out on frills like fancy tickets and meals provided by international airlines, which are primarily state-owned. “This should not be seen as a shortcoming. There are ways of making up for the lack of such frills. It is all about providing an in-flight experience. Here, it is our creativity that matters,” he maintained.

So, how does a low-cost carrier provide the experience? Said Fernandes, “Instead of re-running the same movie umpteen number of times, we involve our passengers in creating entertainment. If there are any passengers who can sing, we get them to sing during the flight! Regular airlines never do that. So, we provide an experience involving our passengers. They will always remember this experience because this is out-of-the-box entertainment.”

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NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 1: Singapore sets the theme for ‘winning in Asia’

SINGAPORE: The three-day AdAsia 05 kicked off on Monday morning at the impressive and gargantuan Suntec City Convention Centre here with Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, calling for the 1,000-strong gathering to “discuss strategies and ideas on winning in Asia”.

exchange4media News Service 22-November-2005

NEW: AdAsia 05 – Day 1: Singapore sets the theme for ‘winning in Asia’

SINGAPORE: The three-day AdAsia 05 kicked off on Monday morning at the impressive and gargantuan Suntec City Convention Centre here with Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, calling for the 1,000-strong gathering to “discuss strategies and ideas on winning in Asia”.

Praising the advertising industry for being “extremely resilient, nimble and adaptable”, Dr Lee said that the Singapore advertising sector was in a healthy state with an annual growth rate of 15 per cent last year. “However, I urge key industry players to look beyond our shores towards the region as one big market. We have the creativity, organisational structures and experience compared to the best in the world,” he pointed out.

Then came his message to a gathering comprising some of Asia’s best communicators, creative minds and media honchos: “With China and India enjoying exponential growth, we need to position ourselves to plug into the vast potential and soar with them in the next wave of Asian success.”

The thrust of Dr Lee’s message was not just about advertising, but about design. “The design industry contributes 1.5 per cent of Singapore’s GDP, and advertising should be seen as part of this. Design leadership holds the key to future success of Asia on the global plane,” he said.

Earlier, Lim Chin Beng, chairman of AdAsia 05 Organising Committee, said, “Asia is the hottest place in the world today to do business. Therefore, we have chosen the theme ‘winning in Asia’. We have to find the best strategies for branding. And Singapore is best suited to become the creative hub of Asia.”

In the first session on “Global vision Asian action: Marketing lessons from the world to Asia”, Hermawan Kartajaya, President, World Marketing Association, provided some trends into the future of marketing. According to him, the three key elements that would shape marketing and, therefore, require new branding perspectives in future are: ‘digitalisation’ (“age of consumer participation”), globalisation (“it will lead to market paradoxes for brands”) and ‘futurisation’ (“rise of the creative class leading to emergence of creative markets”).

“Consumers are evolving everywhere. So, companies too will have to evolve to become ‘meaning’ companies in future based on the values of brand identity, brand integrity and brand image. Horizontal communication will be more important in such a scenario than vertical communication. Successful companies will have to have a CCO – Chief Communications Officer – in times to come to effectively handle communication to become ‘meaning’ companies in the age of customer participation which will be the next stage after the information age,” Kartajaya explained.

Talking about ‘Media trends: Change of Die?’, Michael Lee, Chairman & World President, International Advertising Association, observed that the digital age with its impact on consumer behaviour was creating new challenges in the marketplace.

“There is a perception that the media industry is in big trouble. It is. But it would be a mistake to write it off so easily. Ad agencies have to find a way out of the emerging situation where the traditional media is battling it out with the new age media. Media agencies can no more merely involve themselves with planning and buying on cannibal margins – they have to become full-service agencies. And agency size does not matter, it is nimbleness that will make the difference in the digital age,” he said. Lee’s suggestions: traditional media will have to get more engaged and recover their confidence; media agencies must work hard to stay agnostic despite the natural disposition to new technology; and ad agencies and their clients have got to find a lasting solution to compensation issues.

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ADASIA 2005 all set to make its mark again with new strategies for a changing Asia

ADASIA 2005, the biennial event that sees Asian markets hosting one of the strongest B2B events, is all set to debut on November 20, 2005 with the inaugural dinner. The event, spanning from November 20 to 23, 2005 has been organised at Suntec City in Singapore this year and the biggest delegation is from India, with over 150 attendees.

exchange4media News Service 18-November-2005

ADASIA 2005 all set to make its mark again with new strategies for a changing Asia

ADASIA 2005, the biennial event that sees Asian markets hosting one of the strongest B2B events, is all set to debut on November 20, 2005 with the inaugural dinner. The event, spanning from November 20 to 23, 2005 has been organised at Suntec City in Singapore this year and the biggest delegation is from India, with over 150 attendees. The next biggest in terms of numbers is Korea with 70 delegates. Korea will host the ADASIA 2007.

The theme of the event this year is ‘Winning in Asia’. Some of the first noise around the event was seen when the Advertising Club Mumbai assisted the Congress Committee in organising a road show around ADASIA, which was clubbed with Ad Club’s Media Review held in August. In addition to that, the event was supported by SMS blast, mailers and other such activities.

The Ad Club Mumbai has ensured that India is present at ADASIA in full force. A head count of 150 delegates is the largest ever seen at the event. While the Indian advertising professionals will make a strong component of the audience, some key names like Zee Telefilms’ Pradeep Guha, FCB-Ulka’s Anil Kapoor and Ramesh Narayan are also a part of the speakers list at the event.

In addition to these, Indian media industry’s leaders like TV Today’s G Krishnan, Eenadu’s I Venkat, Malayala Manorama’s Jacob Mathew, BCCL’s Upen Roop Rai, Bates’ Subhash Kamath, Triton’s Munawar Syed and BCCL’s Bhaskar Das, who is also a speaker, Gautam Rakshit, and Reliance’s Kaushik Roy will also be present at the event.

Needless to say, everyone is looking forward to the event. Said Subhash Kamath, “ADASIA has always been a great platform – not just to present what is happening in the Indian markets, but also on what is happening globally. More importantly, it helps industry leaders to get together and is a great experience.”

He added that the India experience in Jaipur in 2003 was not a small deal and that had generated a lot of expectations from 2005. A point that Piyush Pandey, who wouldn’t be attending the event this year due to his leg injury, agreed with. “It is a great place for the industry to meet and listen to a lot of knowledgeable and I’m sure there will be good line-up of speakers. However, in terms of mood and the environment, it would be interesting to see what the hosts do to top what was done in Jaipur in 2003,” he remarked.

In addition to Pandey, there are quite a few other advertising professionals also who would be missing at ADSIA Singapore, largely due to other commitments. Arvind Sharma, Chairman, Leo Burnett is on that list, “There are too many other global forums and at some level I feel that in terms of ideas there might not be much that is new that would come across. ADASIA is a great forum to get an overview of what is happening in the world of advertising, and it usually means having loads of fun and I think it will be a challenge this year to top what we did in 2003. That said, for advertising professionals who don’t attend too many global forums, ADASIA is a good window to the global world of advertising, trends and perspectives.”

ADASIA is returning to Singapore for the second time in 25 years. With over a 1,000 delegates this year, the event is going to be no small affair. Over 70 stalls have already been installed at the exhibition area. Some of the international speakers include Christopher Graves, President, Asia Pacific, Ogilvy PR Worldwide; Gavin Coombes, Executive Vice-President, Asia Pacific, EuroRSCG 4D; Hiroshi Tanaka, Executive Manager, R&D Division, Hakuhodo Inc (Japan); Justin Sampson, Director, Advertising Sales (South-East Asia), ESPN STAR Sports; Michael Lee, Chairman & World President, International Advertising Association; and Noriyuki Shutto, Executive Advisor, Dentsu Inc, Tokyo.

The format of the event is standard with conferences planned throughout the day and social gatherings in the evenings. November 22, 2005 has been planned as the ‘Korean Night’. As stated earlier, Korea is the host for ADASIA 2007. Also, a bid is in order to decide who will be the host for 2009.

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Indiatimes mulling IPO; claims to be way ahead of Rediff

Indiatimes, the Internet arm of media behemoth Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, is mulling to explore the capital market after diluting close to 6 per cent of its stake to WestBridge Capital. “We will go for an IPO when we will be sizable enough to be attractive to investors,” reveals Mahendra Swarup, CEO, Indiatimes, exclusively to exchange4media.

exchange4media News Service 10-October-2005

Indiatimes mulling IPO; claims to be way ahead of Rediff

Indiatimes, the Internet arm of media behemoth Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, is mulling to explore the capital market after diluting close to 6 per cent of its stake to WestBridge Capital. This was revealed exclusively to exchange4media by Mahendra Swarup, CEO, Indiatimes.

“We started talks to dilute around 20 per cent of our company and then finally settled for 5.8 per cent because we are no longer a startup. We are already an established business. One of the reasons why we went for private equities was to prepare ourselves for a final IPO,” Swarup said.

This is the first ever confirmation of an equity dilution from Indiatimes. Previously, there was speculation that Indiatimes had diluted 15 per cent with WestBridge Capital and Sequoia Capital for around $36 million. Swarup hinted that the figure was somewhat higher than what had been talked about so far.

On when the IPO might happen, Swarup said, “We won’t go for it prematurely as we don’t need money as such. We will go for an IPO when we will be sizable enough to be attractive to investors, when we know that we will be able to get something back to our investors.”

On the previous talks that Yahoo was also interested in a stake in Indiatimes, Swarup said, “We were in talks with many players, including Yahoo, but we decided not to go for a strategic partner at this point of time.”

Talking on a range of issues, Swarup said, “Indiatimes is on a high growth path. We have signed many international deals in the recent past. On the mobile side, we have signed an alliance with BBIT, which is the largest Italy-based European VAS provider. We have also signed a deal with Goal.Com, the largest software on the soccer front. Air Deccan has also formed an alliance with us, where they will sell their tickets only on our site, besides their own site. We have also signed an alliance with Sheemaru, wherein their entire library will be put on the Internet. Work on this front has already started.”

Swarup also dissented with the general perception that Rediff.com was the numero uno portal in India. “I vehemently disagree that Rediff is the No 1 portal in India. The only way they are No 1 is the number of people on their e-mail. Even our active users as proportion to our registered users is much more than Rediff’s active users. On revenue terms, too, we are much bigger than them.”

“In terms of page views, we are almost three times bigger that them. Our ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) is much higher than our competitor. I think it is a myth that Rediff is No 1. We are definitely larger than it by leaps and bounds. Rediff is way behind us. We have been profitable for the last three years whereas Rediff made profit in just the last quarter,” he asserted.

Swarup, however, declined to disclose the revenue and ARPU figures of Indiatimes.

When pointed out that Alexa ranked Rediff much higher than Indiatimes, Swarup said, “One has to look at Alexa differently. Rediff is one on Alexa, we are 20 different URLs on Alexa. One has to add up all those URLs to arrive at the ranking of Indiatimes.”

Swarup has definite plans to overtake Rediff on the only edge that he thinks Rediff has over Indiatimes. “I think the key of e-mail so far has been speed, and Rediff is known for its speed. But Rediff is soon going to lose that edge as with highspeed Internet connectivity, every email is going to become faster. We are already in the process of relooking our mail and making it the best mail possible. So, when the speed factor vanishes and the way we are growing, I think we will surpass Rediff in three years’ time on email front.”

On the challenge from Yahoo!India, Swarup said, “Yahoo!India potentially could be a big challenge to both Rediff and us. It has access to the best of technology. Yahoo is now changing its focus to news and media. If Yahoo!India copies what Yahoo has started doing internationally, then we may face a problem. But since the lead has already been taken by Rediff, Indiatimes and Sify in this country, their cost of growing in India is many, many folds more than us. They have to put out a really well thought out plan to compete with us.”

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