Size & Price no longer differentiating factors: Anita Nayyar

11 Oct,2013


Media agency network Havas Media has completed 7 years in India. Ranked as the fastest growing agency in 2012 by global media researchers RECMA, Havas Media grew at 43 per cent in a market which saw growth of 15 per cent.


Post a global rebrand earlier this year, Havas Media has bagged several new businesses. Its new wins include Voltas, Aspiring Minds,, Wonder Cement, Neo Milk Products, Career Builder, Halonix, Simmtronics, Mobis, Bloomberg TV India, LG Electronics and more recently Emirates.


In the midst of a hectic schedule, Anita Nayyar, Chief Executive Officer, Havas Media Group in India and South Asia took time to answer our questions. She’s been particularly candid in her responses and just for that, we would say: Three cheers!


Seven years here in India… if you have to sum it up for us in one sentence, what would it be?

It’s been a challenging journey.


Did it help that you were growing at the international level too at the same time?

Growth at International levels always has a positive rub-off locally especially if you are part of global wins. Post our rebranding earlier this year , there has been a higher degree of integration and we now follow a much simpler, integrated and meaningful structure to customize solutions. The  systems, processes, knowledge and tools shared across the globe bring a lot of synergy across the network. Sharing and exchange of knowledge and ideas helps adapt the same to different markets. More so, there is an exchange of business ideas, for example at our internal Asia Pacific Summit some of India’s strategies towards new business was a talking point of discussion.


India is very well-leveraged on Indian brands and businesses or the India divisions of international brands. This 2013 has seen Voltas India, Aspiring Minds, Amway-Beauty,,, Career Builder, Simmtronics, Neo Milk Products, Bloomberg TV India, etc.


Havas Media has had an interesting last year with many new client acquisitions. So what worked for you last year which didn’t earlier?

We have had more crest years than trough ones. 2006 when we started and 2010 were comparatively low in compitches and also as graded by RECMA. We strongly believe that our tools and processes are our USP. We are the only agency who differentiates itself by working on brands to make them more meaningful. We have been singularly focused and aggressive towards new client acquisitions. Unlike most agencies who believe in picking up clients of a certain size we have always looked at future potential of a brand, partnered them and grown with them. All this coupled with our passion and challenger mentality has worked well for us.


Since buying constitutes much of the business, do clients find the negotiation power of the networks bigger than a relatively smaller player like yours? Or is that not an issue?

Size and Price are no longer the differentiating factors. It is a sum total of a lot of factors more importantly about ideas and innovations. We have been successfully able to demonstrate our buying power. It is no longer about big volumes. It is about being Smart and buying smart.


Havas Media is not much in the awards circuit. Is it by design, or is it quality of work or is it just that you don’t find winning awards worthwhile enough?

Priorities are different at different stages in an agency’s lifecycle like that of any brand. While setting up, the focus is more on gaining new business, servicing and retaining them. So the award application process does take a backseat. Winning awards certainly adds to market perception and we have seen enough of that happening. It is not as though we have not submitted good quality award entries as our work and product is what we take immense pride in but we’ve for some reason been very unlucky and won only some. Everyone likes winning but it’s not always the best athlete who wins, it is also following the rules and getting it just right and there are far too many factors that influence the process. In fact in 2013 we were on the shortlist for the (Excellence in Radio) ERA Awards and won a Bronze and Special Award at the DMA ECHO Awards India 2013.


We take pride in our work and client delivery. We have delighted clients and the testimony lies in retaining them over years. That to us is the biggest award.


How much of your business is now centred around digital?

Around 15-20% but you will see this figure grow.


You were among the early entrants in mobile. How’s that doing?

Operations with Mobext in India started about mid 2011 as a pilot outfit. This quarter on you will see us more aggressive on mobile with more resources allocated. Clearly we see it is a high growth area, hugely scalable and Mobext is armored with technologies for emerging and developed mobile markets which we are looking at leveraging for the Indian end-customer.


Havas has been active on sports internationally, but in India that’s not done too well. Why.

As you are aware India has limited sports to cricket with little focus on the other ones like soccer, tennis, hockey etc. Even the national game does not find too many takers. The gestation period for sports led solutions is very long and low on priority with clients. Unless of course it is cricket. This limits the growth of customized sport solutions and hence we’ve been going slow on the same. It is best to concentrate on what converts. However, we are doing our own bit in the area of sports hoping to take it to a better level.


Below The Line is another area that is growing in demand as traditional media gets expensive. How active are you in that space and going forward to see much grow?

BTL even for mega-brands today is becoming increasingly important more so with its direct speak mechanism. Havas Media Active our OOH division takes care of BTL. We are certainly looking at scaling it up.


And lastly: Seven years hence, what do you see Havas Media doing and growing to?

Everyone talks of integrated and digital but India needs a lot more stepping on the pedal.


Advertising in its old format does not exist. The future is to those who will unlearn and re-learn and this means domain knowledge, its application, processes for execution, collaboration and attitudinal and mind-set shifts.


We see Havas Media Group in India still relatively smaller, more agile, completely integrated with digital at core – as brand architects providing meaningful experiences – some award winning, some effective for our clients and their customers, scoring No.1 on client delight.


Our focus is on adding incremental value to clients, training, investment in digital and looking at alternate revenue streams.


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