Ananya Saha
Aug 10, 2015

'Big guts are better than big money': Sam Balsara

Madison's Balsara,'s Amarjit Batra, Google's Sapna Chadha and RK Swamy BBDO's Srinivasan Swamy were among speakers at an IAA-DAC event in Delhi

'Big guts are better than big money': Sam Balsara
​The International Advertising Association India chapter (IAA) and Delhi Ad Club (DAC) organised an event in New Delhi on 7 August, on the theme '​​Emerging agencies: challenges and opportunities'.
Drawing on learnings from Madison's growth in India, Sam Balsara, chairman and MD, Madison World, offered some tips to smaller agencies as they seek to take on the Goliaths. 
Balsara​, who started Madison in 1988,​ advised smaller agencies to take one step at a time, and beat the big (agencies) by 'thinking small'. 
Balsara contended that the 'law of disadvantage’ works in favour of smaller agencies. He explained, "​We tend to work harder if we know our disadvantages. Big guts are better than big money.” 
Other 'laws' he spoke about highlighted the importance of service, innovation, investing in technology, research and data, specialisation, focus, and organisation building.
'Take dotcoms seriously'
Amarjit Singh Batra, CEO of online classifieds marketplace Olx India, revealed that the site started advertising in 2011. “When we began (to advertise), we did not have any blueprint as to how internet companies should advertise. To make a real brand in the country, we picked a leaf from FMCG advertisers,” he said.
In the course of his presentation, Singh suggested ways for ad agencies and dotcoms to come together by highlighting the 'problem areas'. Among these problem areas he cited was that except for television, ad agencies lacked expertise in other mediums. He contended that extension of digital campaigns is hardly suggested, and changing teams lead to inconsistency and information loss. 
Singh urged advertising agencies to treat the ‘dotcoms’ differently, and seriously: “Present to us insight-driven ideas. Take us seriously as a business. We have big dreams but simple expectations. Get it right the first time, because there might not be a second time.” 
'Jack of all, master of some'
The event also saw Sapna Chadha, head SMB of Google India, and Sundar Swamy, CMD, RK Swamy BBD​O, make the case for smaller agencies.
While on the one hand Balsara urged smaller agencies to believe in the power of specialisation, Swamy argued otherwise. He said, “We should be jack of all trades and master of some.”  
He made the case for agencies to make profits in a sustainable fashion. “Think of your agency as an asset that can be passed onto the next generation. Thus, you will create value. One obvious route is to scale up, and avoid the things or people that are not adding value,” he surmised.
Campaign India

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