‘We want our fu­ture to be driven out of In­dia’

Alastair Aird, Global Chair­man of Wave­maker talks of ex­pec­ta­tions from In­dia as one of the Top 5 mar­kets of the agency, man­date for Kar­tik Sharma, mar­ket­place dy­nam­ics and meet­ing chal­lenges ahead

Impact - - FEATURE -

What are the ex­pec­ta­tions from Wave­maker? What will it do sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter for clients over what MEC and Maxus per­haps did in­de­pen­dently?

The dif­fer­en­tia­tor will be our un­der­stand­ing of the pur­chase jour­ney, putting the pur­chase jour­ney at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing that we do, and our ob­ses­sion go­ing for­ward with that pur­chase jour­ney. It was some­thing that we had, but didn’t op­ti­mize and am­plify for our clients in­side MEC. Every­body is very ex­cited, we can see what the value will be for clients. An­other fac­tor will be chang­ing our op­er­at­ing sys­tem to rapid growth plan­ning, for the ben­e­fit of our clients. So, there is a fun­da­men­tal change in what our fo­cus will be. From a peo­ple fo­cus, the dif­fer­en­tia­tor will be em­brac­ing P.A.C.E.D - the pace at­tributes and val­ues of Maxus, adding ‘D’ for di­ver­sity. Those val­ues will be the same ev­ery­where, but how Kar­tik chooses to bring that to life in In­dia is his call, as he had al­ready brought those val­ues to life at Maxus. We will see a lot of new pow­er­ful things for our clients through pur­chase jour­ney, through our op­er­at­ing sys­tem, through the new prod­ucts that we are de­vel­op­ing. We also see a huge op­por­tu­nity in e-com­merce, so you will see us move in that di­rec­tion.

For our peo­ple, we can com­bine our train­ing pro­grammes, bring the best of our train­ing to­gether, and bring our com­bined cul­ture to life.

Q] What is the kind of scale that this merger has achieved? What would be the size of the en­tire busi­ness both in In­dia and glob­ally?

The two busi­nesses that we are bring­ing to­gether will have 8,500 peo­ple. It would be 650 peo­ple in In­dia. In­dia will be­come one of the Top 5 mar­kets for us glob­ally. And you can work out what the likely per­cent­age is of In­dia as a con­trib­u­tor to us glob­ally - around 7%-10%. Our global billings ac­cord­ing to RECMA is $38 bil­lion for the com­bined en­tity. And sig­nif­i­cantly ex­cess of a bil­lion dol­lars of net sales and rev­enue.

Q] Glob­ally, it is un­der­stood that sev­eral lead­ing Maxus clients are be­ing lined up to move to Essence post the for­ma­tion of Wave­maker. Could you talk about it? And whether that is the case in In­dia as well?

When we set out in Jan­uary, what we were try­ing to achieve was to build three of the Top 5 global busi­nesses, and then also to strengthen Essence. Yes, cer­tain MEC or Maxus clients are mov­ing to Essence around the world, but there are also go­ing to be Mind­share and Me­di­aCom clients. Any move­ment of clients into Essence has been done via dia­logue with those clients first. What you are see­ing now is the end point of many months of con­ver­sa­tions with clients. One of our pri­or­i­ties is to strengthen Essence and launch Essence in a num­ber of mar­kets. And for the right client, Essence may be the place. Clients that we have moved to Essence from a US per­spec­tive are NBCU and Tar­get. Last week, we an­nounced Bri­tish Tele­com (BT) is mov­ing into Essence as well. But Essence is not go­ing to be a net­work op­er­at­ing in 50 mar­kets, that’s not their am­bi­tion. Their am­bi­tion is to pick and choose those mar­kets where they think that the busi­ness should op­er­ate, and In­dia is one of those mar­kets, with an ex­pected Jan­uary launch.

Q] What is at the cen­tre of your con­ver­sa­tion with mar­keters to­day?

The re­al­ity that CMOs face to­day is mas­sive com­plex­i­ties of how peo­ple con­sume me­dia and then the dis­rup­tion that is com­ing to their busi­ness, and how they can use mar­ket­ing to help ad­dress it. What used to be a rel­a­tively sim­ple busi­ness is be­com­ing in­cred­i­bly com­plex as we try and reach the con­sumer with the right mes­sage in the right place at the right time. With time be­com­ing such a pre­cious com­mod­ity, clients ex­pect us to work as an in­te­grated team, that we do be­cause we don’t have si­los or di­vi­sions. What ad­ver­tis­ers are ex­pect­ing is for us to work in­te­grated with all of the dif­fer­ent agen­cies that

It’s a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity to man­age a tran­si­tion from a global per­spec­tive. Whether this merger is a suc­cess or fail­ure will de­pend on what the state of our busi­ness is in 2-3 years’ time. ALASTAIR AIRD Global Chair­man, Wave­maker

they may use. We have the po­ten­tial to act right, be right at the cen­tre of that in­te­gra­tion.

Q] In the en­tire busi­ness of me­dia plan­ning and buy­ing, growth has re­duced and re­mu­ner­a­tion given to agen­cies has also come down over the years. What can be done about that?

Glob­ally, we have been in a low growth econ­omy and pub­lic com­pa­nies have grown their profit through re­duc­tion of cost. But you get to a point where you can’t take any­more cost out of the busi­ness. And I think we have reached that point. Pro­cure­ment in all or­ga­ni­za­tions has squeezed cost out of their busi­ness. As we go for­ward, we have to get back to the growth of busi­nesses, to the growth of brands. And part of that will be re­liance on growth of GDP and growth of world econ­omy as well. More money com­ing back into ad­ver­tis­ing to grow brands will start in the com­ing years. You have to in­vest in your brand to grow. The new re­mu­ner­a­tion mod­els for me­dia agen­cies will be tied to much more out­come-based re­mu­ner­a­tion in fu­ture. Ev­ery­thing that we are do­ing at Wave­maker will be aimed to drive our client’s sales. Our re­mu­ner­a­tion mod­els will need to be tied to dif­fer­ent things, whether that’s cost of ac­qui­si­tion, whether that’s click through rate, whether that’s mar­ket share growth, that de­pends on each in­di­vid­ual client. I am happy for our re­mu­ner­a­tion to be tied to those things that we can in­flu­ence and can di­rectly have an im­pact. But, I think there will be a change in the way that re­mu­ner­a­tion mod­els will move. If our re­mu­ner­a­tion is tied to the suc­cess of our clients, then that in­cen­tivizes us to grow our client’s busi­ness. If our client’s busi­ness grows, then we can make fair and rea­son­able profit.

Q] Have you set any rev­enue tar­gets yet?

We are in the process of go­ing through the first round of bud­get­ing as Wave­maker, from a pure busi­ness per­spec­tive. It’s a lit­tle early to say what’s the rev­enue tar­get-set­ting. It’s much more qual­i­ta­tive at this stage, about en­sur­ing that we have trained all of our peo­ple on rapid growth plan­ning as quickly as pos­si­ble, about in­te­grat­ing all of our peo­ple, more op­er­a­tional fac­tors rather than hard rev­enue or profit growth tar­get at this stage.

Q] What will be the USP of pitches at Wave­maker? Have you worked on the pitch strat­egy?

Hope­fully, our pitch strat­egy will be a linked to our pur­pose. We now ex­ist to build brands that pi­o­neer the fu­ture, in­spire so­ci­ety, and move cus­tomers to ac­tion. Our prom­ise in that ob­vi­ously is to be a key part­ner, bound to­gether by our pur­chase jour­ney ob­ses­sion, that we help clients trans­late au­di­ence in­sight and be­hav­iours into smart de­ci­sions to­day for a pros­per­ous to­mor­row. That is the core of what our propo­si­tion will be to our clients.

Q] What will be your top pri­or­i­ties once the launch and tran­si­tion phase is over?

We then move to fo­cus­ing on growth of our busi­ness, growth of our clients, growth of our peo­ple’s ca­reers and not in that or­der! We will launch our e-com­merce prac­tice glob­ally, and keep our con­tent fo­cus. Grow­ing our busi­ness with our ex­ist­ing clients is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant - en­sur­ing that what we do in 2018 for them is bet­ter than what we did in 2017. The busi­ness con­se­quence is that our rev­enue grows, profit grows, but we have to get the first two things right.

Q] What is the man­date for Kar­tik Sharma?

What Tim Cas­tree and I ex­pect of Kar­tik at a global level is to en­sure that the prod­uct that we de­velop, the sys­tems that we de­velop, the peo­ple pro­grammes, train­ing pro­grammes that we put in place glob­ally, need to work in In­dia. We also want his in­put in help­ing shape what Wave­maker be­comes glob­ally as an or­ga­ni­za­tion. We want our fu­ture to be driven out of In­dia as well. So, we want to steal with pride, prod­uct ideas, ini­tia­tives that ex­ist in In­dia to be­come scal­able glob­ally. We want to ex­pand with our big clients in In­dia, and work with them to ex­pand glob­ally. So Kar­tik should help shape our global prod­uct, and then In­dia and Kar­tik drive and scale prod­ucts out of In­dia to other mar­kets and to us glob­ally.

Q] Where do you see Wave­maker five years from now?

It will de­pend on things that will have been in­vented… that we don’t even know about to­day! Our suc­cess will be de­ter­mined by rapid growth plan­ning, whether the cus­tomer jour­ney is at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing we do, and whether we have moved our busi­ness from man­u­ally-driven busi­ness to a much more tech­nol­ogy en­hanced ef­fi­cient busi­ness. I want all of our peo­ple to spend more of their time un­der­stand­ing the in­sights and be­hav­iours that are go­ing to shape the con­sumer’s de­ci­sion, so that we can help make in­formed de­ci­sions for our clients that will grow and drive their busi­ness. We have to be strate­gic part­ners to our clients; that’s where the fu­ture of our busi­ness is go­ing.

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