In conversation with Campaign India, Vincent Digonnet, president APAC, Digitas and Razorfish, spoke about Digitas' new e-commerce offering. Publicis is also mulling the launch of its second digital agency Razorfish in the Indian market. Excerpts:
Campaign India (CI): When can we expect Razorfish to launch in India?
Vincent Digonnet (VD): Hopefully, before the end of first quarter of next year (around this time of year).
CI: What will be the focus areas for Razorfish when it launches in India?
VD: The DNA of Digitas and Razorfish is very different. Digitas is a marketing organisation that went into digital because direct marketing became digital. Digitas is consumer insights and consumer journey-led marketing organisation, while Razorfish is a technology organisation that develops the creative and innovative technology to transform businesses.
So, to start Razorfish you need to have a strong technology backbone, which is strong enough to be able to generate the kind of development that justifies the brand name. We have identified India at a tipping point a year and half ago, but back then we wouldn't have talked about launching the brand in India because the market was not very mature. There is a huge difference between the ability of Indians to develop complex technologies for other markets and the domestic markets. So, now we think that the market is ready and is going to move by leaps and bounds.
And, we will not launch Razorfish if we do not have the sustained development capability for a brand like that. Typically you can't have a Razorfish operation with less than 150 people just because of the sheer needs of development in different aspects. Overall, one is more of a marketing organisation while the other will be a technology-led organisation.
CI: To start off, here in India, will you be looking at acquiring any agency or start from scratch and hire talent?
VD: We will be looking at a combination of both.
CI: Post launch, how will both the digital offerings differentiate while pitching for new businesses?
VD: Digitas is more of an integrator. Anything which is going to be mapping the consumer insight or journey is going to be a Digitas-led project. Anything which is developing technology to transform business would be more a Razorfish initiative. To give examples of business transformation from the US market, a lot of newspapers have transformed from a traditional ecosystem to a new business model whether it is The New York Times or CondeNast Group, Razorfish helped them in this transformation. So, that would be 100 per cent Razorfish territory, and we define it as - business transformation through technological innovation. However, going forward, Digitas India could be offering solutions incorporating Razorfish technology.
CI: Moving on to the newly announced e-commerce platform, what do you think are the key differentiating factors for the offering?
VD: We are looking at the offering not just as a technology platform but have also developed it after looking at with a marketing lens. What it means is that not only do we provide 'plug and play', we also provide retail management capabilities, quantified traffic generation, and even a coupon management system. Basically, it is an ecosystem that allows people to not only physically activate a digital store, but to manage a whole set of capabilities to manage the online store successfully.
CI: Do you have the same offering in other markets that Digitas (or Razorfish) operates in?
VD: E-commerce and social media are the two key drivers of our strategy in the next five years. We are building a worldwide e-commerce suite, allowing us to develop it from high end users to open source solutions for start-ups. We want to be able to offer marketers the full range of platform development, but also operations management for the digital store. With that strategy, we bought a company in China that allows us access to the market and also develop our worldwide tools from that platform. Digitas in India developed their own capability and tapped into what we had developed in China and US to package this offering for the Indian market. So, we have a worldwide suite of product and offerings that are tailor-made to adapt to its market.
CI: Other than the e-commerce platform, what are the other areas that you are expecting growth from for Digitas India?
VD: The ability to develop CRM capabilities on new platforms - that's where the growth is. We need to move from traditional campaign management, which is decreasing in importance in the brand experience.
CI: What is Digitas India contributing to the global revenues of Digitas currently?
VD: Let's be honest. Digitas and Razorfish are still incredibly strong in the US. We would need to seperate. If I decide to take US out of the picture because it is such a large part of the agencies, I would say that both China and India are exponentially contributing to the growth of the network worldwide.