‘Asia is creating its own strategic thinking and best practices’

Q&A with Edward Pank, MD, Warc Asia

Dec 16, 2013 03:55:00 PM | Article | Ananya Saha

On the sidelines of the first edition of Warc Conversations in India, Campaign India caught up with Edward Pank, MD, Warc Asia to talk about the idea behind bringing the Conversations to India, learning from the market and Indian advertising. Edited excerpts:

This is the first edition of Warc Conversations in India...

We reached out to many of our client-partners, and looked for ways to follow the conversation that was happening in Indian industry and look at key issues. JWT has a leading position in the Indian market so it made sense for us to collaborate with them on this event. Yes, it is the first time we are having a conversation in India. It is great that we have done it now and we managed to pull it off quite quickly. When it is on a smaller scale, with 40 to 50 people, we can have more free-flowing conversations and be more candid.

We always look at other markets to enhance our learning. What can other markets learn from Indian advertising?

I think India has always been a strong advertising market. Indian advertising tends to be emotional, based on deep consumer insights, and in that regard, it has always been doing pretty well. What is interesting from my point of view is for Indian advertising is to export their strategic thinking to other developing markets, such as Africa. A good example would be Horlicks, in terms of how it is being rolled out in African markets now.

Asia is not aping the West anymore - maybe in the past but not anymore. This region is creating its own strategic thinking and its own best practices and I think it’s time for rest of the world to learn what is happening in Asia.

What would you deduce from the discussion at Warc Conversations in India?

There is a massive opportunity in Indian market with the emerging consumer, certainly at the bottom of the pyramid, the emerging consumer. As digital penetration increases, whoever can get the first mover advantage in the segment will win. I get a sense that a lot of clients are nervous, and that is a universal insight - I see that in lot of markets, and they are quite risk-averse. But if clients take a step of experimentation like Coke does by setting aside a budget for trying something new, take the learnings, you can breed cultural experimentation and help propagate more innovation; in digital, in marketing and communication thinking.

Is Warc looking at having more Conversations in India?

Yes. We hope to have many more after this inaugural session. We are planning to host one in Mumbai, possibly next year. I would look forward to have more activities on-ground in India because India is one of our largest markets in Asia Pacific.