Campaign Editors
Sep 04, 2023

Global agency chiefs explain India's strategic importance

EXCLUSIVE: Hiroshi Igarashi, Jane Lin-Baden, John Wren, Mark Read, Martin Sorrell, Philippe Krakowsky, and Yannick Bollore describe the role their Indian operations play and why the market is increasingly critical to success

Global agency chiefs explain India's strategic importance

It's been 15 years since Campaign India first launched its website. Through publishing thousands of articles, videos, films, webinars and podcasts and judging hundreds of award entries each year, it has chronicled the unparalleled growth of the advertsing, media and marketing industries across the subcontinent.

Now home to one of the largest advertising markets in the world, there's little doubt of India's global importance, which is why it will be playing a larger role in Campaign's global coverage in concert with editorial teams in Asia and abroad.  

A similar scenario is playing out across our industry. As India takes a lead role in AI and data science technology, while emerging as a creative powerhouse (evidenced by its Titanium Lion at Cannes last year) our industry's largest companies are doubling down their investments in the market.

Below, we've invited the chief executives of the world's largest agency networks to articulate India's strategic importance to their companies and for the future of the industry at large. 


Mark Read
CEO, WPP

Just think of the skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century – creativity and technology understanding – skills that India has in abundance. This is why India is such an important part of WPP’s business

India is today WPP’s fifth largest market globally, having been one of our best-performing countries for many years. Our 10,500 people there support many of India’s most successful companies and many of the world’s leading corporations who are drawn to its markets.
 
India is a country of wonderful diversity, creativity, technology prowess and talent, making it a land of tremendous opportunity. Just think of the skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century – creativity and technology understanding – skills that India has in abundance. This is why India is such an important part of WPP’s business, for the contribution it can make to our long-term future success will require just these skills that India possesses.
 
Creatively, the work that we are doing in India is being recognised on an international scale.  The campaign from Ogilvy and Wavemaker for Cadbury with Shah Rukh Khan that harnessed AI to support small business owners at Divali won numerous awards around the world, including a Titanium award at the Cannes Lions Festival.  
 
And from a technology perspective, India will continue to play a key role in driving WPP’s transformation as a company. Today, 50% of WPP’s tech offshoring for our global clients happens from India, and we are looking to scale that rapidly. Our global centres of excellence and our support centres focussed on IT and commercial operations are helping our company transform from within.
 
WPP is proud of its many clients, talented people and long history in India. As one of our major clients, Hindustan Unilever, says: to win in India, you must win in many Indias. We want to be part of the fabric of Indian society, hence the WPP India Foundation partnering with and investing in schools to help thousands of children start out in life with the best education possible. It’s an investment we believe will continue to pay off as India reaches its full potential.


Philippe Krakowsky
CEO, Interpublic Group

The degree to which our business has become data-informed and technology-enabled, inclusive of developments in artificial intelligence – should play to India’s advantage...

For over a decade, we’ve been strong believers in India’s capabilities and prospects. As a results, we’ve built a scaled presence in the market, featuring thousands of employees representing our principal brands, across all marketing disciplines, from creative agencies to media, data and marketing technology.

Looking ahead, we see so much additional opportunity. The major global trends we’re seeing transform our industry – especially the degree to which our business has become data-informed and technology-enabled, inclusive of developments in artificial intelligence – should play to India’s advantage, given investments the country continues to make in infrastructure and education. We therefore see India as a place where IPG can anchor and root key areas of our business. For example, we’re currently building an incremental, 600-person strong global capability center for our media business in Pune, and in a few years, we expect that will double in size.

An additional, highly compelling fact also bears mention: we all know that India is one of the world’s most vibrant economies, and the world’s fastest growing advertising market. Yet, on an advertising-dollar-invested-per-person basis, it has a fraction of the concentration of spend you see in the U.S., Europe, or even China. There is so much room for growth when it comes to the intensity of advertising investments by global brands, and we think that’s a further indicator of the growth we can see.

Whether it’s talent that can help us power our global business, or significant domestic growth, we see a compelling future for Indian marketing and advertising.


John Wren
CEO, Omnicom Group

After grossing over one trillion Indian rupees for the first time in 2022 and being estimated to grow by 12 percent in 2023, India is a market full of potential...

India is a vitally important growth engine for Omnicom. In fact, it’s the third largest market for advertising after the U.S. and China. We have long been a major force in the market with creative powerhouses like DDB Mudra, BBDO, TBWA and OMG winning more than their fair share of industry awards year after year. In recent years, we expanded our capabilities beyond advertising to include digital transformation, commerce, agile content production and more, all of which are fueling our award-winning creativity. This also includes strong data and technology offerings led by Annalect India, our longstanding global capability hub that has three Centers of Excellence in Gurugram, Bengaluru and Chennai comprised of a diverse talent pool of over 1,600 employees and growing.

India’s leading talent in these high-growth areas makes it critical in the evolution of our business and the industry at large. One way we inspire this talent as well as future generations is through the Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), which was founded by DDB Mudra. MICA is the first residential academic institution in the Asia-Pacific region dedicated to meeting the needs of the Marketing Communications industry, and we are proud to continue following the progress of its graduates today.

After grossing over one trillion Indian rupees for the first time in 2022 and being estimated to grow by 12 percent in 2023, India is a market full of potential, and we look forward to being a part of its continued success in the years to come. 


Hiroshi Igarashi
CEO, Dentsu Inc.

Dentsu India was the first Indian agency to win the Cannes Lions Agency of the Year in 2022 with a piece of work that transcended borders, influenced cultural conversations, and had a positive impact on society.

As one of the most dynamic and fastest growing advertising and media markets globally, India is an incredibly important market for Dentsu. Having experienced rapid growth in the digital economy over the last decade it is entering an exciting new era of transformation with the recent launch of 5G. Home to the world’s largest population, India is rich in creative culture embracing religious and ethnic diversity, and with over half of the population under 30 years old, is projected to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2031. These factors make it a fascinating playing field for brands, both global and local, to create incredible customer experiences and engagement.

Dentsu India is celebrated within our global business for many reasons. It was the first Indian agency to win the Cannes Lions Agency of the Year in 2022 with a piece of work that transcended borders, influenced cultural conversations, and had a positive impact on society. Dentsu India is a hotbed of technology innovation and world class talent including our Dentsu Global Services that supports work we deliver for clients globally. A network of over 3,500 talented people under the leadership of India CEO, Harsha Razdan, Dentsu India sits at the convergence of marketing, technology and consulting and is positioned to disrupt the global marketing services economy and build new paths to growth for clients, partners and society.


Jane Lin-Baden
CEO, Publicis Groupe Asia-Pacific

We are here to connect India to the world and the world to India.

India is without a doubt one of the most exciting markets for Publicis Groupe. We have witnessed India’s growth through the lens of being a business and creative consultant to global companies who have chosen to establish a presence in India and, also to Indian companies spreading their wings to go global. India is a fascinating showcase of the digital to consumer (D2C) phenomena and the birthplace of new technologies, innovative solutions and creative platforms. We have worked alongside our clients as they underwent transformation and adopted some of these technologies which help them to navigate the changed post-Covid operating environment and stay relevant to their customers.

We are fully committed to India. We first entered the market in the late 1990s and have since created thousands of jobs. We have built a strong talent base here to serve our clients. Today, we have a total of 5,800 employees across eight cities including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Half of Sapient’s 20,000 global employees are here and PGD India employs over 1,900 digital, data and tech specialists. We understand and appreciate India’s cultural diversity and the opportunities it presents to the world. We believe in the potential of India as it grows from strength to strength. More importantly, we are here to connect India to the world and the world to India. 


Yannick Bollore
Chairman & CEO, Havas

India's burgeoning young population, coupled with a growing middle class, as well as its strong cultural identity and sense of creativity, paint a picture of untapped cultural and business potential waiting to be harnessed.

At Havas, we take pride in being the most meaningful, future-forward, and agile communications network with 70+ Villages around the world. India, for us, has emerged as a lighthouse market, especially on the back of the unprecedented growth it has achieved in the last five years. From just three companies in 2018, we have expanded to include 17 specialist divisions and agencies with over 2000+ talents. In 2023 alone, we added three new companies, and we still have a quarter to go.

With its vibrant and diverse economy, India has become an attractive destination for global investors and brands. Its burgeoning young population, coupled with a growing middle class, as well as its strong cultural identity and sense of creativity, paint a picture of untapped cultural and business potential waiting to be harnessed. What sets our vision apart is not just our commitment to growth but our commitment to doing so collaboratively. Our exciting pipeline of new projects is poised to attract not only new clients in search of innovative solutions but also top-tier talent eager to join a collaborative ecosystem that fosters creativity and excellence.


Martin Sorrell
Executive chairman, S4 Capital

The West continues to underestimate the quality and strength of Indian creative and technical talent. They will win out.

As I look at the forecasts for GDP growth by 2050, India is tagged to be the third largest country in the World after China and the US. Already the World’s most populous country, India is rapidly transforming under Prime Minister Modi’s charismatic leadership and benefiting from AsiaPacific’s growth and concerns about the US/China relationship.

By 2050 AsiaPacific will host three of the top five countries in the World - China, India and Indonesia. The West continues to underestimate the quality and strength of Indian creative and technical talent. They will win out.

Source:
Campaign India

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