The biggest buyer of advertising services in the country is neither Pepsi nor Amazon. Or any such entity from outside the shores of this nation.
It is as homegrown as homegrown can be.
It is the Government of India. With its various ministries and enterprises engaged in both sectoral and public good.
Tourism, health and sanitation, petroleum, minerals, banking, finance, railways, highways, airlines, infrastructure.
You name it and there's always a need for partners in such endeavours, and to strategise on it better and communicate about them better.
The Government of this country probably consumes more man hours than the next ten advertisers put together.
Unfortunately almost all those hours are spent on timesheets monitored closely in New York, Tokyo, London or Paris.
Anywhere between 15 to 22 per cent of Government of India money ends up repatriated to any of these countries.
And the best part is these countries aren't even doing any technology transfer, or skills training, or knowledge sharing to deserve these moneys. All they are doing is lending a moderately recognisable brand name, that's all.
After that, it's an Indian set of brains working together to analyse the Indian set of customer to find a uniquely Indian way to communicate.
Now, aren't there any homegrown agencies that may have these brightest set of Indian brains who would understand the Indian consumer at least as well?
Of course, there are.
Actually scores of them.
With a string of proven case studies and some of the best strategic and creative talent in the country you could find.
And yet none of them handle even one Government of India advertising mandates of any consequence.
And the reason for that is simple. The eligibility criteria for handling most Government accounts.
The place where most of these agencies falter is not on capabilities.
But on the size of annual billings.
Which actually has zero bearing on the output that the advertiser should be interested in.
All that this billing number really means is that the Government would be making this number even fatter. That's all.
For an American or a Londoner or a Frenchman to have an even better annual retreat.
The annual billings clause from Government advertising tenders has to go if they really want to support Indian enterprise and Indian thinking.
Let the Americans come too, no problems, we'll all take them to the cleaners more than a fair number of times.
One of us will.
I am always surprised by the quality of design, planning and communication work done by a hell of a lot of independents.
It is time the Government let them have a fair shot at their duties.
It's time they dropped the billing clause from their RFPs.
Let the independents just take a shot at it.
The locals will show the globals.
(The original post was published by Ashish Khazanchi, founder and managing partner, Enormous Brands, on Facebook. )
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