We are keenly looking for acquisitions

Written by Lalitha Srinivasan | Updated: Jun 12 2014, 05:54am hrs
Advertising agency Leo Burnett India, part of the Paris-based Publicis Groupe, is looking to acquire agencies that specialise in experiential marketing and creating advertising and marketing content on platforms such as mobile devices and social media, according to Saurabh Varma, the newly appointed chief executive of Leo Burnett India. After taking charge, Varma has revamped the agencys operations by bringing changes in processes, structures and people management practices. In India, Leo Burnett has clients ranging from Coca Cola Indias Thums Up, Maaza and Limca brands; McDonalds; Procter and Gambles Tide detergent; and Bacardi, among others. In an exclusive interview with Lalitha Srinivasan, Varma speaks of his India plans. Excerpts:

Whats the rationale behind Leo Burnett Indias restructuring plans

Having seen India from close quarters and having experienced close to 15 different markets across APAC (Asia Pacific) in the last seven years, I felt the chance to create change in India was real. I wanted a change in the way we approached a problem and the way we looked for solutions . Also I wanted a change in our processes and a change in people.

India is ready for a change from the classic, 30 second-narrative to ideas which are more experiential. The industry needs to change the paradigm and create content which human beings can play with and pass on to others. The days of creating a television commercial and then calling the digital guys to create a 360 degrees campaign around it is pass.

What are your key priorities in transforming Leo Burnett India

I have focused on three major priorities which include integration and specialisation, building HumanKind brands and attracting new age talent. Today, clients want integration (integrating different media) but it cannot happen at the cost of specialisation. So, even as we create integration, we will continue to build special capabilities.

We will need new storytellers to change the way of stories are told in advertisements. So our objective is to attract new talent for that. Our focus is also on building HumanKind brands, using creative techniques that have the power to transform human behaviour. My belief is that the kind of people who will lead the new wave in advertising will be different from the people who led the old wave.

How significant is your agencys role in Leo Burnett Worldwides operations

Leo Burnett India is a priority market for Leo Burnett globally. We are a significant contributor to Leo Burnetts APAC revenues and our hope is that with our fast growth, our share of revenues will increase significantly over the next three years.

What are Leo Burnett Indias inorganic growth plans

We are keenly looking for acquisitions across experiential, mobile data and social media sectors.

Tell us about the agencys organic growth strategy.

Organically also, our focus has been in moving into new revenue streams including experiential, mobile, data and e-commerce. Our focus over the next six months will be to cover the significant gaps that are apparent in our portfolio. On the new business front , we have won 20 mandates across the Leo Group in the last six months.