Review 2007 : Advertising

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AD Club-AAAI row ends finally

The biggest news broke out of Mumbai when it came to advertising in the year gone by was the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and the Advertising Club Bombay’s decision to jointly  present a creative award at the forthcoming GoaFest from next April onwards. The award would be called the Abby. The decision came after about three acrimonious years that saw the AAAI quietly telling its members to boycott the Abby Awards. And the Abby awards were used to be seen as a one-horse race with O&M and its ‘men in black’ cantering away with all the awards, at what was slowly becoming a lackluster show. On the other hand, the last GoaFest was without O&M and Lowe, because Lowe’s head Balki decided not to enter in either categories thus making it a Prasoon Joshi show.

AAAI president Madhukar Kamath along with JWT’s Colvyn Harris, Contra ct’s Jagdeep Bakshi and Shantakumar’s Saatchi & Saatchi met AdClub Bombay president Bhaskar Das, who was accompanied by LodeStar’s Shashi Sinha, Bates’s S Kamath and O&M’s Pratap Bose to sort out the issues.

While the mood and tone at the meeting were really cordial, a lot better than the meeting two years ago in which an AAAI member asked an AdClub office-bearer to “get out”, there are still some issues that need to be resolved. Most important is the branding of the event. Some AdClub office-bearers are bitter to see the entire branding being hijacked by the AAAI.


The future is of retail

Exploring the `future of media’, Starcom MediaVest Group has launched a new agency. Called FutureWorks, the agency will handle all of the Future Group’s media duties. It is also going to be an option for advertisers to communicate with the consumers in the stores. However, all are not so happy with the move obviously. There are firms that start from street signage and then go to the malls, but in this case, Future Group is going to outdoor business from the malls.

FutureWorks will manage the media strategy and investment needs of all the companies and brands belonging to Future Group. Given their success including in the media business (for instance Tesco Media), Future Group would find the latest venture also a lucrative business opportunity.

Starcom MediaVest Group South Asia CEO Ravi Kiran feels, “as organised retail is a sunrise industry, there are a number of opportunities just waiting to be tapped.”  Since Future Group has been around for five years, it has somewhat of a first mover advantage. “But because the sector itself requires so much detailing, special attention and expertise need to be allotted to handling this business,” he explained.

The agency has been set up with the goal of delivering ‘return on objectives’ and ‘consumer connections’ to the Future Group brands. Starcom Worldwide India head for South and West Manish Porwal said, “we believe communication needs of a retail brand is fundamentally different from that of packaged goods and other classical categories. To provide focus to Future Group’s opportunities, we decided to create the brand new unit, with its own vision, leadership and operating processes.”

Similarly, ad guru Alyque Padamsee has launched a video-BTL advertising medium called LeagueOne, which is digital display combined with specific BTL activities to provide maximum impact and results to brands at its outlets. LeagueOne aims to be the one-stop solution for advertisement campaigns, media planning, marketing plans and BTL. Padamsee said, “for years, advertisers have wanted to impact customers with audio- visual force while the latter are shopping. LeagueOne offers you a marketing miracle. Shopping is going to be more fun than ever before. LeagueOne is in a league by itself. It puts a sting in the tail of retail.”


Rise of Online Agencies

Astrong trend observed in the advertising space last year was the consolidation of online media agencies and other online marketing initiatives. Recently WPP Digital acquired a 75 percent stake in Quasar Media, a subsidiary of Smile Interactive Technology Group specialising in digital marketing and web solutions. In the last eight years, StudioSmile has invested in the digital industry with successful start-ups like Quasar, Tyroo and Zoomtra.com.

Launched in 2005, the Delhi-based Quasar Media is the largest digital media and e-business services firm in the country with offices in Mumbai and Bangalore. Its clients include MakemyTrip, Monster, Microsoft, Motorola, LG, Zapak and VISA.

The domestic digital media is expected to grow to $560 million, representing almost seven percent of the total advertising expenditure by 2009. WPP Digital is the digital investment arm of the media behemoth WPP Group. Its prime goal is to champion digital technologies and new media innovations and to stimulate, support and enhance existing company activities in this area.

Percept Holdings also announced its intentions to invest $5 million in new media domain, and launched Percept Knorigin, a tech media and service provider. It will focus on servicing Indian and global clients by leveraging digital media technology like the internet, mobile, gaming and 360-degree capabilities of the Percept Group. Percept Knorigin targets revenues of $10 million per annum and will expand into a team of 100 within the next three years.

DGM India was launched to deliver RoI to online advertisers. DGM India, a part of DGM Holdings of Britain, was officially launched in June. Its principal activity is the delivery of RoI through affiliate marketing, search engine marketing, display inventory and e-mail, either as individual channels or as a complete solution. The domestic industry has responded quite favorably to the launch, as evinced by the signing up of advertisers such as Yatra, Naukri, Sify, FernsnPetals,  etc.

Similarly, Microsoft India also announced the launch of a new ad platform called Sponsored Spaces. Sony Ericsson had already used the WindowsLive Spaces to promote its K810i handset with Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions. This platform allows advertisers to use the social networking scene, communicate, and engage directly with consumers. Sony Ericsson has been one of the first companies to use this community-based advertising platform in April with its Share the Real Me site. The mobile phone company had also launched Share the Real Life in June, as an integrated marketing campaign to launch its new K810i handset models.

“With blogging emerging as vibrant in the country as the rest of Asia and more Indians using the Internet, advertisers will need to build successful campaigns around their brands in the Indian blogosphere,” said Microsoft digital marketing revenue and strategic business India head Rajnish.

Eyeing this opportunity, Dentsu India launched the world’s first online media trading portal Lastminute inventory.com, a portal for trading of remnant media inventory. The portal claims to be the world’s first online real time media exchange and is dedicated to trading, thus monitoring inventory available with media-owners till the very last minute. The portal provides a new buying channel for media owners to reach and engage geographically scattered media buyers, both big and small, looking for a win-win transaction in the purchase of available last-minute media inventory.

Compare India is also a very good example. A Web18 venture re-launched Compare India recently. The consumer electronics and durables comparison portal now sports a new spiffy look with a user-friendly interface.  The portal also has updated its database of 5,000-plus consumer electronics and durable products. It also has info on various aspects like merchandise, quick shopping tips, latest and upcoming launches, shopping exclusives, latest price drops, shopping video and experts’ views etc.


BBDO ups India ante

BBDO India strengthened its presence with Josy Paul coming in as chairman and national creative director. Paul was joint NCD with JWT. With this two BBDO agencies in the country today—RK Swamy BBDO and BBDO India. RK Swamy has a minority stake in BBDO India, while BBDO Asia retains a significant minority stake in RK Swamy BBDO.

BBDO Asia-Pacific chairman and CEO Chris Thomas said, “BBDO and the Swamys are hugely ambitious in India. Josy shares that ambition. He brings experience tinged with edginess, a belief in the power of ideas and a desire to challenge the existing norms of the market.”

RK Swamy chairman Srinivasan K Swamy said, “we went with this plan to BBDO over two years ago. The idea was to have a dual brand offering in the market for an even more effective competitive position.  A multiple management and team structure will unleash a lot of energy, and we are       all confident of gaining a higher market share here.”

BBDO Worldwide  president & CEO Andrew Robertson said, “RK Swamy helped us conceive and launch BBDO India. People from RK Swamy BBDO and Hansa played significant roles in the team that won the 7Up business.”  Thomas said, “the two will work on foreign and domestic clients. We even see situations where the both will work for the same client, either on different brands or by offering different services. We will leverage the collective strength of the BBDO group for the benefit of our clients.”


IPG integrates Lintas India with Lowe Worldwide

The Interpublic Group has fully integrated Lintas India into the Lowe Worldwide Network. The equity buyout extends the 40-year -old partnership between Lintas and IPG.
Lintas India, which was founded in 1969, had IPG holding 40 percent of the equity. It acquired another nine percent in 1998. Lowe India is the flagship agency, but the group also includes two other independent advertising companies, as well as India’s second largest media business with leading brands such as Initiative, Insight, Interactions, Intellect, and Media Futures.

“Lintas India, as one of the most successful businesses in the Lowe Worldwide group of agencies, serves the network as a resource center providing talent, experience and service to our global clients. This deal will allow us to expedite development through closer networking with IPG’s specialised firms abroad. This is all about meeting the challenges of our industry,”  Interpublic Group EVP for network operations, and Lowe Worldwide world Stephen Gatfield said announcing the move.

The then Lintas India CMD Prem Mehta said, “there have been significant changes to the way we serve the needs of our many global clients who now require globally integrated management teams for their brands. In addition, our Indian clients now need more and more services outside the country. This move will further strengthen Lintas India’s successes. Being an integral part of a global network will take the employees, the work and the services provided to our clients to the next, 21st century level.”

Lowe Worldwide is an interconnected global community of agencies. Its global client roster includes Unilever, Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Saab and Stella Artois among others.


W+K enters desi shores, finally

Wieden+Kennedy caught up with its India entry deadline finally, after buying out the three-year old Delhi-based creative agency ‘A’.  The partners of the agency ‘A’ V Sunil and Mohit Dhar Jayal would be profit-sharing partners in the W+K global network post-deal.

With this, A merges with W+K to create W+K Delhi, which is the eighth W+K office worldwide, and the only one in the country. W+K Delhi became operational in November.  As is known, the agency already had Nokia in its fold even before it had officially launched.

Sunil and Jayal would the two members of the new leadership team for India, and they would be looking at adding more names in second and third rungs in the days to come.  W+K is already looking forward to its share of the assignment that would focus on the creative direction.

Speaking on the merger, W+K Global chief operating officer Dave Luhr said, “W+K Delhi is an exciting addition to our global network. With the expertise and creativity of Sunil and Mohit, we will have immediate impact in this all-important market. The opportunities in this country are enormous for this agency.”


WPP takes in Bates-Enterprise

British media conglomerate WPP bought 74 percent stake in Mohammed Khan’s agency Enterprise Nexus for Rs 40-45 crore. Post-buyout, Enterprise Nexus was merged with Bates India and the merged entity was called Bates Enterprise. Following the buyout, Bates Enterprise is WPP’s sixth agency in the country after JWT, O&M, Grey World-wide, Equus Red Cell and Rediffusion DY&R. Late last year, the Interpublic group-owned Lowe India, which had a 40 percent stake in Enterprise Nexus since 1993, sold off the entire stake to the WPP Group. The group has now picked up an additional 34 percent stake from Khan.

Enterprise was set up in 1983 by Khan, while Nexus was set up in 1985 by Agarwal. Enterprise Nexus was formed in 1997 with 60 percent stake with Khan, Agarwal and their third partner Arun Kale. Later, Agarwal and Kale sold off their holdings to Khan and went  separate ways. Enterprise Nexus today claims a billing of Rs 250 crore while Bates, which handles the creative duties for Nokia, Indiatimes and Indian among others, generated a billing of Rs 150 crore. WPP continued to consolidate its networks here by merging the Indian operations of Bates Asia with David, O&M India’s second agency network.


Foreign agencies make a beeline for domestic PR networks

The PR industry had some  good developments in the year with a number of foreign players buying out local agencies. The Publicis Groupe acquired Hanmer& Partner. This acquisition was in line with Publicis Groupe’s plans to expand its offering in high-growth emerging markets such as India. Following this, Hanmer was aligned with public relations firm Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L), and the domestic agency was renamed Hanmer MS&L. This acquisition strengthened MS&L’s presence and capabilities in the country, while offering H&P’s clients access to an international network.

H&P specialises in a wide range of industries including consumer, lifestyle and hospitality, financial services, IT and telecom, media and entertainment, auto, aviation, engineering and infrastructure, and healthcare. It works in tandem with its specialised division Hanmer Reach, a unit that helps clients reach audiences across different geographies and diverse cultures. The firm also has several divisions including Hanmer Interactive, a multimedia division that focuses on web-based solutions, Hanmer Events and Hanmer Advertising.

Genesis Burson-Marsteller also announced its strategic alliances with the WPP Group companies BKSH & Associates Worldwide and Quinn Gillespie & Associates to offer global public affairs capability to companies in the country. The move also created an international network of public affairs professionals to offer integrated multi-market public affairs campaigns across Washington, Brussels, Hong Kong, China and India.

The alliances were announced by WPP Group executive vice-president for public relations/public affairs Howard Paster. Emphasising the importance of these partnerships, Paster said, “it will act as a two-way bridge to help our international clients to ably navigate regulatory environment and policy developments seamlessly across the international marketplaces.”

The Genesis Burson-Marsteller public affairs practice is focused on key vertical segments such as retail, healthcare, energy, aviation, financial services, infrastructure and ICT.

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Neeta Nair

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