Dominic Proctor, chief executive, MindShare Worldwide spoke to Campaign India on the sidelines of Media Spikes 2008 in Bali, Indonesia on the recent MindShare restructuring that has taken place and how it will benefit clients going forward.
How will the recent restructuring affect MindShare’s Indian operations?
In the same way as the rest of the world. What we are doing is basically broadening the company. We will eventually bring in more products and services into the business. What we really will be doing, and this is the tough part, we will be breaking down all the silos that exist and create a company that will make it much easier to access for our clients. There is no change in terms of staff, either. Gowthaman will continue to run the business in India.
What was the overriding need for the recent restructuring?
The restructuring was not so much a need, but more of a reaction to clients saying that they did not find it easy to work with companies that had so many different moving parts. The idea was to make it much more streamlined, much broader, much further upstream, in terms of strategic advice. But basically, more accessible and getting rid of barriers that service companies tend to put up.
How do you see the reorganization helping clients?
Clients will now be dealing through one point with every specialist that they ever need to speak to, so it will be the accessibility of the company that a client would benefit from since they will be dealing with fewer people. We will be putting together what used to be different divisions in terms of econometric modeling, market research, media research modeling. It’s all going to become one business science group.
With the recent Madison-Mediacom win of the P&G media AOR business in India, have you had discussions about how this will affect the Unilever-MindShare relationship?
Absolutely no, it’s a completely different agency to us. If you look across WPP’s roster of agencies, they handle multiple different advertisers in the same category across all their agencies; media agencies, PR agencies, creative agencies. It’s unusual for WPP to sell control of one of its agency. But they decided in this particular case (to do so).
With all the recent talk about ‘small is beautiful’ in the advertising business, how do bigger agencies like yours deal with the challenges of competing with smaller boutique agencies?
Small is definitely not beautiful in the media agency space. It may happen in creative but in media, it’s definitely big that is beautiful. Our strategy is to scale up and grow the business. That has ramifications in terms of how people fit into a much bigger organization but it’s a challenge that’s worth facing, to get the scale that’s required.
What are your plans for Mindshare India?
Our plan is to continue to grow our business and broaden our offering. For instance, we would still be interested in growing our analytics business, our content business. We have grown the company way beyond the origins of the company which were more traditional media planning and buying, to give our clients what they are asking for, which is a much broader service in keeping with the digital age.
Would MindShare be looking at acquisitions in the digital space, in the coming months?
We are not breaking our leg to look at acquiring companies. If the right one comes up we will have a look. If you look at the history of MindShare, there have hardly been any acquisitions around the world. It has always been more organic growth, which in a way has helped us to maintain a singularly unique culture. We wouldn’t turn away from those acquisitions; it’s just not been our style.
What do you see as the business model for the industry in the future?
I see our role becoming more hardwired into the client’s business. Our role will become more of the backbone of a client’s marketing effort. I think the advertising agencies are facing a challenge in time because they need to continuously invest in serious creative talent so that they can continue to be the people who come up with the big idea. That’s under pressure because there are so many other companies that are coming up with the big idea, whether it’s the media agencies, PR agencies or clients or the public, through user generated content. The model that we see is that of successful media agencies becoming more of the permanence of a client’s infrastructure. It is certainly our ambition and something we are making a good headway on.
But the model that you mention, suggests that media agencies will gain in terms of control. How practical would it be to implement such a structure for a client where you have to deal with various different agencies like creative, PR, which may not go along with giving up control?
I don’t see it as a battle between the creative and media agencies. I see it as a natural collaboration between the different agencies. Yes, collaboration is difficult but that’s what the client wants. We are a service industry so that’s we have to work towards.