The Mindshare Mantra for the Digital Age

28 Mar,2012


By Johnson Napier & Insiyah Rangwala


With a new global CEO at the helm and a host of other reshuffling activity on the talent front, the most recent being the appointment of Greg Brooks as Global Marketing Director, it’s been a busy 2011 & 12 for Mindshare Worldwide. But organizational changes are just one aspect of the overall vision that the global media and marketing behemoth has charted out as it prepares to confront new challenges that the future will inevitably throw up.


In India for a one-day seminar titled Mindshare-Brand Equity Compass 2012, Marco Rimini, Leader, Business Planning, Mindshare Worldwide opened up to MxMIndia on how his agency is preparing to deal with the digital tide that is expected to sweep the sector off its feet, on the agency’s plans for India and emerging markets, and his mantras for surviving the slowdown blues. Excerpts:


Q: What is the moment of truth facing media agencies today where the medium of digital is concerned? How is Mindshare Worldwide gearing itself to face the medium for the challenges that it will throw up tomorrow?

The world is seeing a digital revolution and everything changes as a result of that. It will be important for organizations to get their balance right in the way they approach the medium of digital. As for Mindshare, first of all, it is about making sure that we have people who understand that we have information we share between people who understand the medium of digital. Also, the fact that we have to deal with technology ourselves.


Q: As one moves across markets from the US to Europe to Asia Pacific, what are some of the new digital trends that have sprung up in the recent past?

The most important thing is the amount of time people spend online and that differs by market and by region. And so obviously, the amount of time you spend online marketing to them changes remarkably by region as well. So in some markets, we are already seeing a 30-40 per cent spend by sectors such as financial services and telecom, going towards digital. Countries which are leading that race include the US and the UK.


Q: Asia Pacific is being touted as the region that’ll churn out highest growth numbers where the medium of digital is concerned. What are your views around this thought?

I think where digital is concerned, the Asia Pacific market is ahead because they can leapfrog ahead of the US and UK and because they have less infrastructure issues. For example, where wireless is concerned the Asia Pacific markets can leapfrog ahead because they don’t have to go through the cable revolution.


Q: But despite the decibels and the glory, why are adspend figures around the medium still abysmally low? Do you see the low growth as an opportunity or a challenge for the sector to deal with?

I definitely see it as an opportunity for both marketers and agencies to get it right, but to ensure that you go ahead you have to make sure you get your today and tomorrow also right. But I am positive of seeing healthy numbers being posted as we move forward.


Q: What are the growth numbers that you anticipate for the medium in 2012?

I think we will see an immaculate growth coming from the medium and it will differ across sectors. It is observed that sectors which sell online spend the most on online. Also, the sectors in which the advice is given the most online spend the most online. So you’ll see cars, telecom, retail, etc all have become very big spenders whereas you see less fast growth in the FMCG space.


Q: Which are the categories that will drive online growth in 2012?

I think it’s the ones that have a better online distribution presence; online distribution and online services will be the ones that will drive the growth. Examples include retail, banking, telecoms and cars. These are the top four high-probability sectors that I can think of.


Q: Going forward, can we expect a renewed focus on some of the emerging markets for Mindshare Worldwide?

There won’t be any renewed focus on any of our markets – we have always been strong in Asia and we expect Asia to continue to be strong for us. Also, within Asia we expect markets like Indonesia to drive substantial growth for us. If there is anything new it will be growth in Latin America and Africa.


Q: Mindshare India has seen some reshuffling in the recent past where a host of people have been promoted and new talent inducted too. Globally too, there have been a few key appointments as well. What more can we look forward to on the talent front?

Nick Emery has taken over as the global CEO for us and we wish Dominic Proctor well in his role as Group M in-charge now. Nick comes from a planning and strategy background and I think he is going to make sure that we all drive the company strategically and also do our marketing right. In fact we have just announced a new global marketing director for Mindshare Worldwide – Greg Brooks. Greg is coming from C Squared which was the organizer of the Festival of Media and also publishers of M&M magazine. So Greg is a digital maven; a digital consultant who used to be a digital journalist and his job will be to market Mindshare in this new digital age.


Q: Has the much-spoken about slowdown impacted growth at Mindshare?

I’ve heard a lot about this in the last 24 hours since I have been here but I have to tell you that if you come from Europe all of you here are being far more pessimistic; 6-7 percent growth is still very good and I am sure this will only be a very short-term slowdown in India and growth will continue to come. At the end of the day 6-7 percent is a very significant amount to stand by.


As for Mindshare, we expect it to grow more or less with the average growth rate of the economy. The target for us is to grow as per the relevant economic conditions; so we say that our target in Europe is to beat the economic growth that gets registered.


Q: What is the number you are looking at?

We only set targets at the WPP level and I’m afraid you will have to look at their targets rather than ours. Obviously the growth in Asia Pacific is higher than Europe and we expect the growth to continue to be high. Logically, Asia Pacific is a very important region for us. Also, recently Latin America has also become an important region for us.


Q: It was interesting to see representatives from P&G grace the panel for a Mindshare event. Worried about how Unilever will react to this?

(Laughs) I didn’t choose the panel, Vikram Sakhuja did. But we are very proud to work for Unilever and hope that we continue to do so.


Q: The team in India seems to be busy behind the Unilever pitch with hectic travel and meetings being the order of the day. Would you delve on what’s the current status of the pitch?

We are all very engaged in the pitch; we knew it was going to happen and look forward to doing it. We hope to continue working with them as they have been one of our founding clients and through JWT and Ogilvy before that — we have worked with Unilever for over 100 years so we hope to continue our association with them.


Q: What are the sentiments amongst your clients where advertising budgets are concerned?

I think in 2008-2009, you saw dramatic cutbacks but in the last 18 months or so we have seen clients being more confident about their spending decisions. As we know, some clients are spending right in the middle of recession. So I don’t see so much of restraint from the client’s end. I think the point here is that the financial community is more nervous than the client community — it’s a government issue and not a corporate issue that’s facing us this time. In 2008-09, it was more of a corporate issue.


Q: What will be your single largest agenda for 2012?

The focus will be on people – there’s a lot of talent out there especially in Asia. We have to make sure we get our fair share. It’s a work-in-progress; it’s always a work-in-progress.


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