Looking back: What have been the macro-level gains for India in 2011?
A year marked by tremendous economic grief in most parts of the world, much of it directly affecting the ordinary person on the street, has in broad terms been reasonably kind to us. While inflation continues to bite, the underlying growth of the economy and by implication, incomes results in the mood here being still of cautious optimism in stark contrast to large parts of the developing and developed world. On balance, India has consolidated its claim of being delinked from the Western contagion.
What kind of work / campaigns / events impressed you the most in 2011; and why?
Social Media are front and centre of so many interesting things happening all over the world. The terrific ‘Old Spice Centaur’, the Arab Spring and the Anna movement in India, on a lighter note, the wildfire impact of a song that went viral all make you wonder, ‘Why this kolaveri di?’
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?
Totally true. Middle India has been overshadowed by the dramatic, and rather visible transformations witnessed in the top six metros. However, the winds of prosperity and change that caused the metropolitan morph have been every bit as strong in the next, and the next tier of city and town. The rise of TV in particular has brought the whole world, with all its delights, into living rooms all over the country and triggered appetites for a new and improved life. It can be fairly said that this consumer driven cycle of desire driving progress will be with us for a long time and drive change deeper and deeper into the hinterland.
How can we sustain a strong and diverse talent pool in ad land which has equity across the globe?
For an extended period through the 90s and into this century, the advertising business grew by offering cost reduction rather than value enhancement. Pressure on margins translated into a reduced appetite for high quality intake, which now had more, and more lucrative options to pursue. The best minds on every sort of campus or other talent pool was out of reach for the advertising industry and the gap has only widened with the passage of time. Unless the profession goes back to a focus on creating value and not just cutting cost, good talent will remain unaffordable to advertising. Blaming it on globalisation is misplaced. People who in the 70s and 80s would have gladly joined advertising are now attracted to consultancy, FMCG, banking, venture capital and the like which aren’t in Singapore or New York, they are right here in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.
Harish Manwani, the COO of Unilever said: India is the future of the world. Does this statement reflect the reality? Your comment.
It is hard to take up issue with this proposition on so many different levels: a young population; a consumption driven economy growing at a solid 7-8 per cent year-on-year; broad consensus on continuing economic liberalisation (which does get held hostage to various political compulsions from time to time); free media; high internal mobility of talent; all of these can only add up to India being a significant player and stakeholder in the future of this planet.
If you had to start this business all over again in 2011, you would ...
Do more or less what we have in fact done anyway.
What do you ask the person in the mirror every morning ?
I hope you are still as foolish and curious as you were last night.