Congratulations on being elected president of the AAAI for 2009-10.
When Madhukar Kamath was elected to the post of president, he spoke passionately about the need to make the AAAI inclusive. He spoke on the need to rejig the AAAI in order to better respresent media agencies and digital agencies. I’m delighted that this finds reflection in the composition of the executive committee through the presence of Vikram Sakhuja and Tapas Gupta.
I’m also delighted to see that the overall composition of the committee is younger, also reflecting the changes in the environment.
I’m disappointed that, overall, this is still a Mumbai-Delhi club, with Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai, important centres all, finding no representation. Agencies in these cities have their own unique problems; problems that Mumbai and Delhi are unaware of and unappreciative of. A few months ago, in our annual issue, we did an in-depth cover story on the world beyond Mumbai and Delhi and, in the process, discovered how woefully short we were of knowledge of these markets.
The story will, in all likelihood, be the same with the AAAI. While individuals in the exec committee might have intimate knowledge of these markets, the AAAI, as a body, knows little and cares little. Can you, during your tenure as president, do more for the industry and professionals in these markets?
Perhaps, even if an individual from these markets is not elected, one could be drafted as an ex-officio member of the committee so that the concerns of these markets are heard?
Similarly, there are two other ‘constituencies’ which need representation because of their unique issues and concerns. One is women. Considering that Indian adland hardly has women at the top, it might be a good idea to co-opt a senior professional who can place women’s issues before the committee for attention and discussion. The last constituency is youth, whose issues and concerns certainly need to be discussed considering the demographics of the country.
During the past month, I have been fortunate to meet a number of global heads of agencies, Asia-Pacific heads and heads of agency verticals. The discussions have boggled the mind and the changes that the industry will witness are, to say the least, phenomenal. A lot of this ‘knowledge’ is in the heads of CEOs and C suite executives; the AAAI could do adland a favour if it can find a way for the knowledge to trickle down.
Which brings me to the larger issues: addressing the image of the advertising industry and training. Both these are required urgently to: 1. Make sure that tomorrow’s graduates see advertising as a preferred career option and, 2: Make sure that talented professionals find good reason to stay in the industry. Much has been spoken about and written about these two issues but little has been done about it.
There is no doubt that we are having problems with talented entrants into the industry.
We have reached a stage where we have learnt to be very satisfied – perhaps even excited – when we celebrate ourselves. We have our own awards shows, our own panel discussions, our own industry gatherings where we pat ourselves on the back.
What we need to do is to reach a stage when someone from adland is celebrated by Economic Times, CNBC, NDTV Profit or Bloomberg.
It’s a reality that the post of president comes with a short duration. It’s important for you to hit the ground running and stay running. Make your agenda clear to the world at large; demonstrate your commitment and all in the ecosystem will come running to support you.
All the best.