Manmohan Taparia
Jan 04, 2012

Looking back: 2011, Going ahead: 2012 - MG Parameswaran

Third on our list is MG Parameswaran, executive director and chief executive officer, Draftfcb+Ulka, who shares his insights

Looking back: 2011, Going ahead: 2012 - MG Parameswaran

Looking back: What have been the macro-level gains for India in 2011? 

India is being seen by the world as a market for sustained growth, and this got reaffirmed in 2011. We Indians got out to realise that we are part of a global soul when Jasmine Revolution entered India in the form of Anna Revolution. I don’t think one year can make or break a country’s global standing, unless we had a revolution. But if we see 2011 in the context of this decade, it did reaffirm India’s position as one of the fastest growing large economies in the world. Give or take a hiccup or two.

What kind of work / campaigns / events impressed you the most in 2011; and why?

The mobile sector continues to produce some of the best advertising in the country, Vodafone, Decomo and this year Airtel got its mojo back. Obviously the sector has marketing leaders who are willing to take calculated risks with their advertising strategies. We keep hearing of digital digital, but it took a Tamil song to prove to us that digital viral spread can indeed by fast and large. No brand has been able to achieve this scale of ‘virality’ if one were to call it that.

They say growth in India will be driven by rural markets, the 350 small towns spread across the country and PSUs. True or false? And why or why not?

Rising tide lifts all the boats. A fast growing economy will drive growth across all geographic zones and segments, but we are seeing faster growths in the smaller towns and rural India. So as we see the 50+ million plus population cities growing, we are seeing faster growth, in some sectors, in rural and small town India. This is driven by greater disposable income and spare cash in the hands of the lower middle class India. If you were to look at luxury goods the game is just about starting in the metro cities.

How can we sustain a strong and diverse talent pool in ad land which has equity across the globe?

Indian agencies have in the past invested in recruiting talent and training them with excellent programmes. At Draftfcb Ulka the Star One entry level programme for MBA and creative talent is in its 22nd year. If Indian agencies have to continue to send its goodwill ambassadors to the rest of the world, we have to do more and more of recruiting, training and mentoring of talent. Fortunately the industry continues to attract very good talent in the country. The Industry leadership needs to step up and improve its people quotient.

Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever said: India is the future of the world. Does this statement reflect the reality? Your comment.

Yes, India and China are going to shape the world. I only hope that this is not just wishful thinking. To achieve this status, we need need people at the helm of affairs in the government, the bureaucracy, professional management in companies and the Indian business owners to get together and agree on a common minimum programme. Unfortunately this is not happening, FDI being the latest example. Unless we see this happening, our march to the top is going to be one full of stops and starts.

If you had to start this business all over again in 2011, you would...

This year was a special year for us at Ulka. We celebrated our 50th year this year with several events. I would have done all that, if I were to start 2011 again. We had agency alumni parties across 6 cities, we had large client parties in two cities which was attended by our Global CEO Laurence Boschetto, we launched our Draftfcb Ulka Brand Building Advertising Book of Cases II. And more.  The surprising hit of the year was the Cogito Consulting’s BrandWealth Seminar that we did across Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. If I were to start 2011 again, I will give these seminars a greater role in the calendar of events for the year.  

If you could design the Indian business for 2012 with a clean sheet of paper, what were the three things you would do? 

Three things that are my perennial favourites; concentrate on client and brand issues. Not just what is articulated by the client but what could be the underlying problem. Focus on understanding how the consumer is changing, how he or she is connecting with the brand. And most importantly, equip the teams with ways of making the connection and creating great advertising. As the agency starts its journey in its 51st year, we will rededicate ourselves to our credo, Building BrandWealth for our clients, or as we said in our 50 year anniversary, “Making Brand Famous. Making Clients Rich”.

What do you ask the person in the mirror every morning?

How much fun are you going to have today?

Campaign India

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