Can JWT create digital Hungama with stake buy?

14 Jun,2012

 

MxMIndia spoke to a cross-section of media professionals to elicit their views on the JWT Singapore acquisition of a majority stake in Hungama Digital Services

 

Hungama’s telecom business is intact

 

By A Correspondent

 

Make no mistake. Hungama hasn’t sold out. Of the 1000+ employees, only 120 will be off to the new company which will only be 51 percent owned by JWT Singapore. And the key telecom business is intact, as are various others.

 

When on Wednesday, leading advertising agency JWT confirmed its acquisition of a majority stake in Hungama Digital Services, the digital and promotions marketing division of Hungama Digital Media Entertainment. The size of the deal is not known, though the digital services division is said to have aggregated a turnover of Rs50 crore last fiscal. WPP reportedly earns revenues of over Rs 2500 crore from India and Hungama earned around Rs 450 crore last fiscal.

 

The new entity which will be called Hungama Digital Services Pvt. Ltd.will be a full-service digital agency specializing in digital marketing and social media solutions. As part of the acquisition, Hungama’s activations arm, Hungama Promo Marketing will become a part of Hungama Digital Services Pvt. Ltd. and provide an engagement platform linked to online and offline deliveries.

 

However, it is not known who from the existing team at Hungama Digital Media would move to the jv. “We haven’t received the new org structure,” a Hungama spokesperson told MxMIndia.

 

Said Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, “With JWT, we are now part of the largest advertising network in the world. Hungama Digital Services is the coming together of two exceptional teams in a globally relevant market.” “With this partnership with JWT we hope to offer integrated digital and experiential services to our clients and prepare brands to connect, interact and now transact with their customers.”

 

Hungama Digital Services has been a dominant player in the digital space for 13 years and is spread across six cities in India. In fact the creative services devision is what Hungama started out with over a decade back. The 120-strong team will continue to drive the agency, including servicing old and new clients and offer creative and promo marketing services, viral marketing campaigns, social media marketing and mobile marketing, applications, managing websites and video services.

 

For JWT, it’s a good acquisition, an insider told MxMIndia. Said Colvyn Harris, JWT India CEO: “Digital is our next new frontier.The idea of the partnership is to build a digital offering for our clients so we can live up to being a ‘single source’ partner across all their ‘marketing solutions’ needs. What will be most effective in the future is a new set of talented, digital high end specialists who will add new skills and capabilities to what JWT already offers to its clients. We want all our clients to be leaders in their respective categories.”

 

“We have greatly expanded our digital capability across the region, and we are not standing still. JWT will continue to hire new digital experts and explore possible acquisitions across the region this year,” said Michael Maedel, President, JWT Asia Pacific.

 

See earlier report: JWT acquires 51% stake in Hungama Digital

Raghav Anand, Segment Leader-Digital, Ernst & Young (The observer and often advisor)

Raghav Anand

I think Digital is an extension that every creative arm should have, but the real efficiency comes from how well it is syndicated with the overall collusion. Most of the agencies which have bought digital companies have not been able to integrate them into the overall setup, and hence not been able to leverage the synergy. So, how well you integrate and leverage the synergies will really decide whether it’s a fantastic acquisition or not. Apart from that, the other important things is that companies like Hungama are not just agencies, they are more of digital workflow companies which do a lot more than advertising and creative. They integrate into mobile and few other things. So it’s important for an agency to fully leverage them.

 

Arvind Sharma, Chairman of the Indian Subcontinent, Leo Burnett (He recently acquired Indigo, a digital agency)

Arvind Sharma

Setting up an outfit from scratch has its own merit as you don’t have to pay a hefty acquisition price. However, I think this is a chicken and egg situation as the challenge is that when starting from scratch, you lack the scale and expertise in the beginning which is a handicap when attracting talent or meeting the needs of a client. You get stuck in sub-optimal size and scale. Particularly in Digital, one needs technical expertise and should be armed with a suite of capabilities to meet the clients’ demand. Therefore, it makes sense to acquire an agency of 150-plus people who are specialists, especially in the digital category which is witnessing a lot of interest from clients too. It immediately gives you scale and expertise. Also today clients want gamut of services under digital. They are not looking for few pieces of digital work; hence having an in-house digital agency helps in delivering.

 

Mahendra Swarup, Former CEO, Indiatimes, Chairman, Smile Interactive (He’s worked with Pepsico, Indiatimes, Smile Interactive whose Quasar was acquired by WPP, and is now a well-known VC)

Mahendra Swarup

I think Digital is not an easy space to get into for traditional agencies. And at this point of time, digital agencies’ valuations are pretty realistic, so it’s always good for the traditional agencies to take over an existing team which understands digital. Also, the digital space is going to start growing at a fast pace, although at this point of time, it has a very low share of the total spends. But it will probably end up growing almost by 75 to 80 per cent year on year. So, it’s a big growth area. Also, I think organic development of a digital agency within an existing traditional agency is just not possible, the existing teams will not understand this space at all. So it’s more an acquisition of knowledge and competence, rather than of revenues. It’s only a question how do they (traditional agencies) get into a space which they will then grow faster.

 

Alok Kejriwal, CEO & Co-founder of Games2win (He’s a contemporary of Mr Neeraj Roy…)

Alok Kejriwal

Whatever be the nature of the investment, I think it is brilliant that Hungama Digital has managed to get a partner like JWT. It shows that people who have been around and helped build the digital landscape over the last 10-12 years have finally begun to see the fruit of their labour as it has been one long arduous battle. Neeraj Roy has fought many battles to get media owners and brand planners to get convinced about the digital platform for India.

 

Creative people are not like cement bags where you can go to the market and buy them. They are like yogis in the mountains. So when you get hold of a yogi, you’d do anything to keep him. It’s not one size fits all. JWT has a large client portfolio while Hungama has the digital capability. There are some cutting-edge creative digital agencies in the world that are the ones trying to set shop inIndia. For them to buy it makes a lot of sense, but then there are existing creative agencies inIndiathen why buy an outside agency when they are cutting-edge themselves? If you look at Quasar, which is a WPP company, they too are doing a good job. So it varies according to the needs of the marketplace.

 

Mahesh Murthy, Founder, Pinstorm (He embraced digital early and is known for his forthright views on everything!)

Mahesh Murthy

India is one geography in the world where MNC agencies are absent among the large digital agency houses. The basic reason is perhaps their unwillingness to give up on their bread-and-butter – that is media kickbacks and TV film production over-billing. Both of these tend to disappear when you move online and digital-first agencies like Pinstorm have built large practices by focusing more on new technologies and processes, having avoided the kickback-led business that still drives mainstream advertising. Given India’s importance on their global client rosters, the MNCs here have finally figured out that if they can’t build a digital business themselves, they’ll try to buy one. I personally don’t think these random purchases will make much of a difference.

 

Vikas Tandon, Founder & Managing Director, Indigo Consulting (Indigo was acquired recently by Leo Burnett)

Vikas Tandon

It is no surprise at all. The pace of change in the world today is stupendous, and digital media is causing consumer behaviour to change very rapidly. There is no time to build the expertise from scratch, and scale is also critical to success. Another compelling reason is there is not enough digital talent out there – a lot of the experience and expertise resides in entrepreneurial outfits. Hence acquisitions make eminent sense.

 

Karl Gomes, Co-founder – AgencyDigi (He co-started the agency after a great run as a digital CD)

Karl Gomes

When it comes to digital, any news is good news. In fact if you look around in the media marketplace, there have been similar news developments that have happened in the recent past. The focus for agencies should be about coming up with the right idea and focus on the consumers and brands. In today’s world you have to collaborate. My only worry with these acquisitions is I hope they don’t treat them as another division but they work together and in a synergistic fashion. They need to be sitting together on the table when a brief comes across to them rather than just approach it passively. So, an acquisition like this should be good for both the people buying them and for people selling them. We have been approached by agencies but we are completely funded by clients and their business. So we will continue to run independently.

 

Compiled by Shruti Pushkarna, Johnson Napier and Tuhina Anand

 

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