S Subramanyeswar
Sep 06, 2023

Create, cultivate, concatenate ‘idea ecosystems’: S Subramanyeswar

The group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group India, chief strategy officer – Asia Pacific, and head of global planning council, shares what he would like to see changed or tackled next in the Indian advertising industry

Create, cultivate, concatenate ‘idea ecosystems’: S Subramanyeswar
Mobile companies are connecting us with show business and fitness, insurance companies are securing shopping and home services, and transportation companies are delivering goods in leisure and health with a partner network. Examples like these clearly tell us that just pursuing on historical ways of doing business according to the rule book of that sector is a thing of the past. With technology at the epicentre of everything that they do, forward-thinking companies are creating business ecosystems whose offerings revolve around human needs in the centre. It’s high time advertising agencies practice the same by ecosytemising their businesses centred around ideas for building brands.
Generally advertising companies focus on competition and disruption instead of collaboration, participation, and engagement. And even if they do, the predominant mode of operation is transactions instead of interactions. They seek to build and own the brand idea to optimize or extract value solely rather than co-create, share and generate value for everyone. It is conventional wisdom. But in today’s digital age, characterized not only by networks but by data-driven technologies, including AI, ML, and Quantum Computing that are blurring industries – we must think differently about how advertising agencies or businesses create value. 
No matter what clients deal with today, they want brand building ideas/solutions from agencies at the speed of Amazon, with the accuracy of Google Search result, the ease and zero-click convenience of a Domino’s Pizza order, the low prices of D-Mart, the personalisation of Netflix, and the selection/choice of Swiggy. At the same time, there is also an equally powerful demand from the audience on brands to be human and hyper responsive, socially responsible and environmentally aware, give world-class standards on innovation, guarantee security and privacy, and be open, transparent, authentic, and entertaining, all at the same time. There is no one single enterprise that can do all these on its own with its internally generated capabilities or resources.  
I believe an exciting future lies in agencies forging authentic and sustainable partnerships (not one-offs) around the nucleus of the agency and client - the technology partners, the knowledge partners, the academia, the government bodies, the research partners, media partners, investment partners, start-up partners, selective non-client companies, the general public, even the competitors if required, and any other market makers that can give the velocity. And here, the bigger the agency the better, because they have the advantage of pedigree, credibility, and strong continually tested processes and systems genealogy to build long-term brands. With faith in fifth gear between each other, and agencies dispassionately thinking about creating value for others first (then they can think about how it will benefit themselves), this ecosystem can create meaningful, valuable, and reciprocal interactions that produce new and shared value for all those involved as creators (including consumers in some cases), and for the brands or the content ecosystem for the brands that they build. 
This will generate a new form of multidimensional, constantly accelerating, explosive and smart growth for brands and the agencies that build them, taking the measures far beyond the traditional metrics of revenue increase, profit, or market growth. The age of competition as we know it will come to an end.     
On that note, I want to take this opportunity to wish Campaign India the very best in the world on its 15th anniversary. May it continue to be the nurturing idea ecosystem for the marketing, media, and advertising industry that it has always been! 
The author is group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas Group India and chief strategy officer – Asia Pacific and head of global planning council.
Campaign India

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