Looking back: What have been the macro-level gains for India in 2011?
From our industry perspective, the big news has been the wholehearted acceptance of the independent agencies in India. They earned the faith and trust of some of the biggest brands and business houses in the country. Law and Kenneth got the mandate for the Hero group, Renault, Spencers and Kelvinator. Saints and Warriors drove away with Fiat and CreativeLand Asia with Audi; apart from adding Godrej to their roster. Pepsi and Airtel gave their money-spinning brand opportunities to Taproot. Curry Nation was entrusted with CavinKare and Emami. And Salt Brand Solutions got Kaya, Reliance RTL and Reliance Communicatios, BSE and more. This was also the awakening of clients to the fact that systems and processes and infrastructure cannot be weighed in the same scale as top talent directly working on their brands. This was most evident in the stories of big business moves through the year to non-network agencies. What this revealed was the consolidation of the "infrastructure" agencies, the direct talent on call with the independents with the "middle” agencies feeling the pinch.
The other big piece was the blossoming of e-commerce brands and the consumer’s acceptance of online trading with brands like eBay, Mytra, Flipkart, Infybeam, Snapdeal, fashion and u, etc making a lot of noise and changing the way people shopped.
Omnicom's larger presence in the creative space with Mudra created a lot of buzz. The commercial successes of movies like Delhi Belly, Aamir, Stanley ka Dabba, etc demonstrated how audience tastes have changed in India. And how the multiplex phenomenon is here to stay.
What kind of work / campaigns / events impressed you the most in 2011; and why?
Anna Hazare's civic movement campaign for law-making was a significant one which used various media intelligently to have maximum impact. It was one of the best orchestrated campaigns - from candle light marches, demonstrations, dharnas, rallies, debates, TV shows, et al tied up with a potent digital campaign using mobile, Facebook, Twitter, emails and the print media which apparently resulted in 3crore missed calls, 5 million emails and a movement that got the country together.
Away from home, the Libyan protests and the way the news was spread was to learn from.
Audi Digital, Vodafone's Facebook film and Cadbury's were notable campaigns of the year.
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?
True and false. Yes, there will be more consumption. Yes, the PSUs will invest more on everything. India is a growth story and will continue to be. So much of the media is not measurable so we don't know who will do more. We have been hearing this forever and there are increased consumption, but is it bang for the buck?
How can we sustain a strong and diverse talent pool in ad land which has equity across the globe?
The only way to create equity globally is by giving “talent” opportunities across the globe. Apart from migrating talent, the big equity will be when global brands make India the hub for creating and rolling out ideas. Some of the big global brands are already doing that and Indians are being better known within their networks. Global award shows are a natural stage for creative people. Frankly, great work on some of the big visible brands automatically has a glow effect across the world. Anyway with the rest of the world being stagnant, talent from across the world is already looking for opportunities in our region.
Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever said: India is the future of the world. Does this statement reflect the reality? Your comment.
That's an FMCG world view. We have our own set of issues and other markets also have a claim to the future. Why not China? South East Asia, Latin America and some other countries there, all of them are opportunity markets.
If you had to start this business all over again in 2011, you would...
We would change nothing. We are happy with the way things are and happy with the way life and business has panned out.
If you could design the Indian business for 2012 with a clean sheet of paper, what were the three things you would do?
Clean governance, clean competition, and clean people.
What do you ask the person in the mirror every morning?
Nothing. I am ten years too old for this question.