Should agencies be expected to achieve sales targets? No, but their role is to assist the client in achieving them with creative and strategic insights, reflected Harit Nagpal, MD and CEO, Tata Sky, at the Goafest Conclave 2013.
Touching upon the role clarity issue, he said, “Agencies are brought in to give creative and strategic insights and you can’t expect them to help you achieve your sales target.”
Urging the industry to think differently and independently for TV, print, outdoor and other mediums, he said agencies tend to create a 30 second TVC and work around it for everything else. “We need to take an independent creative route be it outdoor or a print campaign. It can’t be about creating a 30 second TVC and everything else revolving around it. Agencies must realise the complexity of the business and response to complexity should come through smart, independent thinking for each and every medium,’’ he added.
Stressing on the importance of hiring experts, he said, “It’s important to hire specialist agencies from across the globe. Of course that comes with a cost but it’s always important to hire experts with domain expertise.”
The talent issue
“Lack of focus on the bigger picture was leading to death of imagination and insight, and agencies need to realise that there is life beyond the 30-second television commercial,” said Arunabh Das Sharma, president - revenue, Bennett Coleman and Co.
He further said that the idea of having separate creative, media and account planning divisions was causing serious impact and dissidence among marketers. “These days it’s hard to see high quality media planning. What we see is only high quality of media buying. It will work for a few years but after sometime it would become counter-productive,’’ he said, and added that media planning is subservient to media buyers today.
On the talent front, he said decline in the quality of ‘client-facing’ talent was leading to non-sustainability of the business. The struggle to match compensation of other sectors to attract the right talent and high attrition rates were other issues that the industry is struggling to cope with, according to Sharma.
“Quality and consistency in thought cannot come with this kind of attrition,” he underlined.
Hindsight and foresight give a great insight
In a panel discussion, Sunil Alagh, founder, CEO, SKA Advisors, noted that research by itself never brought out a great campaign because competing brands also do the same research. “Hindsight and foresight give great insight,” he said.
Underlining the need for clients to stick by their agencies when the combination was working in the market, he cited his Britannia experience. The Lowe was the then creative agency in India when Danone, the parent company, changed its creative agency at least t a couple times. “We continued to work with Lowe in India and refused to budge to demands of global realignment. It’s very important to stand up with your agency in situations such as this if your agency is doing a fine job,” he added.
Alagh noted that marketers were losing focus on what works and what doesn’t in India. He pointed to colour and symbol as the two things that work best in India, to which R S Sodhi, MD, GCMMF, added ‘jingle’. To buttress his point of view, he drew the attention of the audience to religions in India. Religion, he said, was more than 1000 years old - and all religions had a unique colour, symbol and jingle to them.
And we know they have endured as brands.