Delighted to be stepping into large shoes…

05 Oct,2016

 

Neeraj Roy, Managing Director and CEO of Hungama Digital Media, was elected as the President of the India Chapter of International Advertising Association (IAA) on September 23. A veteran of the Indian digital media domain, Roy has been an active member of various industry associations and has also been a Vice-President of IAA India. A fortnight after he took charge, Roy spoke with Santosh Jangid for this interview in text and video.

 

The IAA India Chapter is decidedly the most active associations in the Indian A&M industry. And it was all thanks to your predecessor Mr Srinivasan Swamy. Your thoughts as you have taken charge?

If we look at IAA in India, we have completed 25 years. It is part of an institution which is now over 75 years globally and its representation is essentially to the media, marketing and advertising community. Over the last four years we have been extremely fortunate and privileged to have the energy and enthusiasm of Srinivasan K Swamy or Sundar as we call him to energise IAA in India in a manner which he has done is unprecedented. He has been pretty much at the centre of numerous activities that have been undertaken and we are delighted that he is now going on to take more senior responsibilities within IAA global. I am delighted to be stepping into the very large shoes of Sundar and hopefully will continue to take the tradition forward in what we have been attempting to do in the Indian media, marketer and agency fraternity.

 

Any specific deviations from the past, or will it be business as usual?

Over the last six years, IAA has done about 120 events for the media, marketer and the agency community here in India. As I see things, we break it up into three distinct segments – there are those activities which we qualify as part of a knowledge series which is essentially there is an imparting knowledge by a way of specialist. These could be in the form of actual conferences and workshops or they could be in the form of interactive webinars. The other thing that we have done is that we have celebrated creativity and leadership. This is made up of numerous awards that IAA has undertaken. We have the IAA Leadership Awards which our partner Colors supports us on, we have had a very distinct and unique programme which is the IAA Olive Crown Awards which is the first and the only one of its kind which recognises creativity towards sustainability and a better planet. This was an initiative which was instituted during the tenure of my good colleague Kaushik Roy and we’ve got in recent times the IndIAA Awards which is a recognition of creativity done in a very different way. The third cluster of activity that we really want to focus on is how do we give back into the industry given that there is so much activity, so much knowledge that’s coming in. Parts of this whether they are converted in the form of research, basic papers which can be circulated back to benefit all key stakeholders. Ours is a problem of plenty and the focus is largely going to be to sharpen this to make them more relevant and more contemporary to the needs of the industry.

 

There is a sentiment that perhaps there are very many events that IAA India conducts and it may make sense to have fewer events. What are your thoughts?

It’s an opinion and we value any feedback and 120 activities in a matter of six years of which my sense is about 112 have happened in the last four years, is certainly a good problem to have. Several of these programmes that we undertake are using technology in a certain way. For example, the entire webinar series that we do, these could be for groups as little as 15-20 people but they are very targeted delivering knowledge and sharing experiences from specialists in their respective domains. So, to me, it’s not about quantity as it is about relevance, what is the impact that we are having and are we addressing the core needs of the stakeholders that that we represent and that’s the manner in which we will take this forward.

 

You’ve been one of the early entrants in the digital arena, and of course mobile entertainment. There is no real big bang digital event in the IAA India calendar now (Digiyatra did not happen this year with Kyoorius Designyatra). Will we see an increasing focus on digital?

Digital is a state where this country is right now. Our belief is over the next 12-18 months, there will probably be over Rs 4000 crore worth of communication that will all happen around the entire proposition of digital and this will be undertaken by numerous stakeholders. There will be those who are enabling this which could be telecom networks, there will be those who are further aiding it which could be device manufacturers, various media businesses whether they are in print, in radio, in broadcast or in films. Each of them are seeing a shift in consumption that’s happening on digital and digital is not merely impacting the broader media marketing fraternity, it is going to percolate into every aspect of our lives. Therefore, for me, it would be relevant to bring in as much of a focus not for the sake of “being seen as digital” but for this fact that digital is genuinely impacting and creating efficiencies, delivering disruptions across businesses and I think that is an aspect that we would certainly want to not only focus on but we would like to bring groups of specialists to our principal stakeholders and members such that they can benefit from that learning and prepare their businesses better in this broader theme of digital that we are all tremendously fortunate to be a part of.

 

An association is as good as the people who manage it. A word on the managing committee that you have?

Absolutely, we are fortunate to have the kind of management committee and it is very aptly broken up. You’ve got absolute industry leaders who have been associated with IAA for several years now. People such as our previous Past Area Directer Pradeep Guha, one of the instrumental people to have brought IAA to its current position, people like Sam Balsara, Past President Raj Nayak, Past President Kaushik Roy, our immediate Past President Srinivasan K Swamy and the new team which is taken on board which is the vice president Monica Tata – COO of BTVi as well as the newly appointed CEO of the Sakal Group -  Pradeep Dwivedi and our Treasurer Jaideep Gandhi. Apart from that, in the managing committee, we have very active participation by my colleagues Janak Sarda and Ashok Venkatramani from ABP News. The good thing is that because there are different type of activities that we have undertaken, each of them have taken responsibility of various types of forums and its pretty much in that sense on auto pilot. Over the last 12 meetings that we’ve had at the IAA, at least half of them were followed up by dinners with respective management committee members hosting them. So, you are absolutely right, an association is as good as its members and its core team and the kind of feeling and friendship that exists and what’s nice is within the IAA, over the years we have grown to become great friends all with one common cause to try and do as much for our industry and give back in whatever small way that we can.

 

Given that the majority of people in the trade are youngsters, many under 30 or even 25, what will IAA India be doing to engage them? There are of course some knowledge and ‘Young Turk’ events. But something that will engage them further?

It is something that not just now but it is an aspect over the last couple of years has been a big focus within our management committee discussions which is why programmes like Young Turks, the webinar series, our debates, these have all been initiatives to draw upon what we call as the young professionals. We have specific programmes for them which is called The Future Leaders Awards that we have inculcated. Even in terms of the manner in which IAA has chosen to communicate not just within its own membership group but also with industry and other stakeholders. We’ve done our best to embrace newer technologies, embrace social media, and the respective teams which handle each of these particular forums. Each year, we look back at what we have achieved and we set new goals for ourselves. The participation of the younger generation is an integral part of any organisation and as IAA, across the key principal stakeholders of media, marketer and agencies, we are continuously looking at ways by which we will have more participation from them, more leadership and responsibility as well to be held by them and you will continue to see that focus as far as IAA India chapter is concerned.

 

One last word to industry people who are reading and watching this… on asking them to join IAA India and what will be the benefits they will get by joining it?

If you visit our website, our entire theme in this is broken up. There is an entire series of knowledge which is broken up by various activities and events that we undertake. We believe that networking is a great offering that has happened on the back of the numerous types of programs that IAA has done in unique manner and we feel that recognition of excellence whether it’s in the form of creativity and leadership. One of the big focus areas for us this year will also be to highlight innovation because we feel that innovation across businesses needs a lot more attention and there’s a premium towards that. Each of these are values which both our existing and prospective members stand to gain and benefit from. Ultimately, the membership fee structure for the association has deliberately been kept at levels which calls for as much of participation and it’s also in two-tiers in its own form. There is membership for a younger generation who just wants to see what do I benefit and get out of this till they actually want to become full-time members.

 

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