‘Our scale gives us the start-up challenger advantage’

Q&A with Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India and South Asia

Oct 21, 2013 02:47:00 PM | Article | Ananya Saha

Havas Media recently completed seven years in India. 2013 saw the agency winning new businesses such as Voltas, Aspiring Minds, Wonder Cement, Amway (Beauty), Career Builder, Shaadi.com, Simmtronics, Neo Milk Products, Bloomberg TV India and Halonix, while Havas unit Arena added LG Electronics to its roster globally.

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group, India and South Asia, talks about the journey thus far, for the relatively new media agency.

How has 2013 been for Havas in India?

It has been an action-packed year. Towards the end of 2012, we decided to strike hard right in the first quarter of 2013. In a tight economy and challenging business (environment), our work and optimism paid off. 2013 rang in with wins right from January and at a regular pace from there on. It has been a good year, not only in terms of business wins but also in terms of renewed aggressiveness.

We’ve seen old clients wanting to work with us, which speaks of quality of work, trust in the relationship and loyalty - really a practical manifestation of the meaningfulness we bring to a brand in the long-term. Our focus is on delivering a better solution as brand partner to our clients, and to optimise our talent to speak to the customer in a complex multimedia world.

Apart from this, the global rebranding has created an integrated structure for Havas, which has opened up avenues of greater collaboration across teams at the local, Asia Pacific and global levels. The exchange of ideas and new processes to understand, design, activate and optimise, coupled with data-fuelled human insights, is a game changer with huge potential. In a nutshell, we see it as a learning year.

There have also been several new hires during this year...

From the end of 2012, we’ve had a people growth of almost 15 per cent as of September 2013. Arena hired Love Guglani (vice president) and Saurabh Bhatnagar (group account director – digital). Havas Media Delhi appointed Roopali Sharma (vice president) to manage key clients. Kunal Jamuar (executive director – West) moved to Lagos and we shall announce his replacement soon. Recently, the senior digital and Mobext India teams have also been revved up. The announcements of which will be made shortly.

What has been the growth rate for Havas India? What have been the contributors to this growth?

RECMA has graded us the fastest growing agency at 43 per cent when the industry average was 15 per cent in 2012. RECMA 2013 has graded Havas Media at number one in new business achievements (year to date).

It has been our challenger and entrepreneurial approach and strategic brand evaluation, which has contributed to our growth.

In the past seven years, how have the revenues grown for Havas in India? What is the contribution of digital in this?

Havas is one of the youngest agencies on the block. It is thriving without the norm of continuous consolidation. Our leverage has been delivery, and our growing a base of loyal clientele.

We are digital at the core and its contribution is about 15 to 20 per cent, a number you will see increasing.

You were responsible for launching specialist brands in India. This year saw new entity of Havas Media, and consolidation of sub-brands. What led to this change, and what effect did this have on the group's business?

January saw the global rebranding for Havas. At the global level, we have Havas Media and Havas Worldwide. Arena was launched, MPG and Media Contacts got merged into Havas Media. In India, Havas Media Group now includes Havas Media, Havas Digital, Arena and Havas Sports & Entertainment. Digital is an intrinsic part of every proposition. Then there is Mobext for mobile and Ecselis for performance marketing. We also Havas Media Active for OOH, which exists only in India.

It was a global mandate to realign the group to create a transparent, nimble, creative, collaborative, connected set-up to maximise internal talent and processes for effective client servicing. The group has stuck with global as well as local accounts across - it works and has huge potential for the future.

What is Havas’ USP over bigger entities such as IPG Mediabrands or Group M?

To us, size does not matter. Being business partners to our clients is our clear differentiator. Rather, our scale gives us the start-up challenger advantage. We have the knowledge, clout, experience and tools as well as the nimbleness to adapt or change our strategy or approach in real time.

Havas has clearer skies and moves effectively, decisively and together - where everyone is a stakeholder.

Is Havas exploring fresh revenue strategies?

We will be concentrating on internal consolidation and scaling up of available technologies and capabilities in India.

What will be the future growth triggers for Havas in India?

Leveraging digital with the group’s technologies and data collaborations in India is a focus area for Havas. This will include mobile and data. We are not opposed to traditional media – it is our core strength and will have a longer life span in India. Apart from this, we will invest in training, and optimising the group’s integrated structure and relationships.