Industry experts vow trade at E4M Conclave

01 Oct,2014

Although MxMindia wasn’t invited to the exchange4media conclave, since it was webcast, we grabbed the opportunity, to ensure our readers are well-informed of what some of top industry folk present spoke. MxMIndia is media-neutral and is fine with tracking the events of organizations and publications which perceive us as competition


By Sneha Johari


The exchange4Media conclave drew a host of the global creme de la creme of the media, advertising and marketing agency heads. Starting off at the time of post-lunch happiness, the Conclave began at 3pm with Geetu Verma, Executive Director, Foods & Refreshment, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. With over 25 years of the marketing industry experience, Ms Verma has worked with some of top-draw FMCG majors.


Her topic, Marketing in the New World, was based mainly upon the fact that today, we live in a highly technology-enabled world where change is the only constant. However, change itself is not the only parameter to measure anything. “The pace of change is enabling consumer patterns. It is rapid yet insidious. But what does amplifying the dimensions of change mean for us marketing and communication specialists? When you’re looking around you, nothing seems to be changing. However, the moment you decide to look back, you see that a lot has changed,” said Ms Verma in her talk. She emphasized the fact that change is not about to happen but is here and now. The technology age has revolutionised our way of life. But this is not new. If we look back in history, we see that the industrial revolutions, the light bulb, vaccines have been changing the way people live to today’s social media and apps like Uber, which is revolutionising how we travel.


“There is an explosion of info and the number of users on mobile and getting online is increasing every day. However, the control of this content is no longer in our hands. You have to have really exceptional confidence in your product or brand and the rest is up to the consumers. We have to equip ourselves with the right skills,” she added. To enlighten the marketer for today’s New World, she recommended 4 Ps: product, price, place and promotion (to be used wisely) along with another 4 Ps: purpose, participation, partners and privacy. “Brands need to have a purpose which consumers can identify with. People want to connect with a purpose. Not having a purpose makes you redundant,” she signed off. Chaired by Sam Balsara, CMD, Madison World, who asked Mr Verma about the risk smaller firms take (easily) as opposed to the risks which bigger firms are wary of taking, Ms Verma said that calculated risks were easy to take but it also depended on how good the creativity of the firm was.


Tim Andree, Executive Chairman, Dentsu Aegis Network & Executive Vice President, Member of The Board, Dentsu Inc burst on the scene, literally towering over everybody. At 6’11”, he is Japan’s tallest executive, he joked. “Digital spends on marketing are currently triple as compared to that of traditional media spends,” he said without wasting any time. Speaking on ‘The Future is Technology’ and chaired by Noor Fathima Warsia, Group Editor, APAC Digital Market Asia.


Mr Andree talked about the convergence of technology across platforms and geographies. People and technology are already seamlessly connected. In developing countries, the emergence of scaled infrastructure is driving social, media and mobile. “40% of users now follow a brand on social media. The industry, too, has grown consumer-centric but its connection points are always people. As digital adspends are expected to grow, media is becoming accessible on demand and in real time, especially social media,” Mr Andree explained. He further stressed that the advantage to marketers from technology was clear and inevitable. But, in order to engage, the content must be entertaining and delivered at the right time while thinking of (a user’s) personal cultural interests.


“One must realise that the world is now data deterministic and technology driven. However, the data and the tech need to be used in the right way. They are just tools which help move people,” Mr Andree explained on the implications of technology and the future while adding, “We need to be visionary and brave and embrace innovation. We need to anticipate what is coming in the future. This isn’t new, technology and communication have evolved together!”


Michael Wall, CEO, Global Lowe Lintas, had a slightly mixed topic to cover. He spoke about technology crossing over with creativity and what marketers needed to focus on. “The modern world is imploring us to rethink who we hire and what their skills are. We need to make a new use of the medium and technology. Technology can revitalise sectors whose health is failing by creativity. By the application of technology, the evolution of the phone happened over 150 years in a long and linear process. But emerging economies did not have to wait that long. They are now reaping the benefits of low-cost smartphones in their respective markets,” Mr Wall said. Citing an example of the Volkswagen Darth Vader Superbowl (2011) commercial, Wall stressed on how television was actually still incredibly relevant. “With the advent of digital has come the arrival of big data. Technology is a core competency today and being always on will remain relevant for users across platforms,” he concluded while maintaining that content was king. This was chaired by Rohit Ohri, Executive Chairman, Dentsu India & CEO Dentsu Asia Pacific (South).


John Sheehy, President, Global Operations, StarCom Media Vest energised the audience by asking them to think about what they’d invest in if they had a dollar to invest. Well aware of the fact that he was speaking to an audience frazzled by a lot of information and the time (post 8pm!), he made a quick but important survey of the five things needed under a topic titled ‘Staying Ahead of #WhatsNext in Media’. “Change is driven by the pace of technology. The five areas to invest your dollar in are: Audiences, which is the target of your information consumption, Content, which is driven by the consumer and technology, the way to engage and drive relevancy to hit the segment at the right time, Convergence, which is everything that the traditional media is not, Programmatic, which matches the supply and demand of info and audiences in real time, and Mobility which entertains, connects, informs and enables commerce in,” were Mr Sheehy’s golden points for marketers. Coming back to the dollar he had asked the audience to think about investing in, he said that his job involves the decision making considering the following points: How to make that investment and where, What are the returns, How do we shift the mindset of our 1000+ employees to cater to the needs of certain geographies other than their own? Rajiv Dhingra, CEO, Wat Consult, and the chair of this session, helped Mr Sheehy reiterate that the next generation of businesses and business owners are going to be young, like more than 65% of the Indian population which is under the age of 35. He also mentioned that today, almost 900 million people own a phone; and that mobile search has overtaken desktop search in this new age.


The event concluded with a chat with Dominic Proctor, President, GroupM Global moderated by e4m group chairman Annurag Batra on working for a balance in the fused world of creativity and technology.


Note: We reported this event from a livestream/webcast. Due to a connectivity glitch, we were unable to stream the sessions of Vishnu Mohan, CEO, Havas Media, Asia Pacific (Topic: Marketing as good as it gets – Tryst with Technology), Vikram Sakhuja, Global CEO, Maxus in a dialogue with  Karthi Marshan, ‎Head Marketing, Kotak Mahindra Group, Anil Jayaraj, Chief Marketing Officer, Pidilite Industries, Sagnik Ghosh ‎Vice President & Head Marketing at Axis Bank (Topic: Only Digital matters! Or it doesn’t?) and Mike Cooper World Wide CEO, PHD (Topic: Game Change: The Future of Work is Play). Please visit for detailed reports on these.


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