Being one of the top agencies within the GroupM family isn’t an easy task when you face competition within and outside of home. Mindshare, however, has formed a niche for itself in the media agency space by building differentiated, strong and relevant products. Prasanth Kumar, who took charge of the agency last year as CEO South Asia, tells BrandWagon’s Meghna Sharma how Mindshare stays on top of the game with its constant quest to think radically, make smarter decisions and structure strong business units.
Mindshare India has been on an awards spree lately — with a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions for its ‘6 Pack Band’ campaign, the highest numbers of metals at the Media Abby’s and the Agency Network of the Year title at Festival of Media Asia Pacific. Do you have to watch out for the trap of complacency at the top?
At Mindshare, we have an insatiable drive, a hunger to create new things. And provocation, being one of our core values, aptly defines this culture we thrive on. We are a team that embraces the statement — ‘this space is where you can’t afford to be tired’. We see no sense in resting on the peak but see it as a dare to scale new heights and hence the question of complacency is redundant to us.
The team at Fulcrum really understood the pulse of Brooke Bond Red Label and its core proposition of ushering in change. The Glass Lion at Cannes recognises the hard work and effort put in by the whole team, along with our partners at YRF and strong support from the Unilever team. The idea also took into account one of India’s true passion points — music — to communicate such a powerful message. As a team, we are on a constant quest to think radically.
It has been a year since you were named as the Mindshare CEO for South Asia. What changes have you ushered in so far at the agency?
Taking on the leadership role, one of the first decisions was to choose the right people for the right roles — a point which is strategic in any business. Hence, the major focus area was structuring strong business units led by practice heads to make people play on their core strengths.
The second focus area was bringing on board diversified talent. We went beyond the realms of pure media agency talent to scout for ‘the best man for the job’. I believe a great team is one that has different skills, experience and ideas, which lends a brilliant new edge to the business.
Another major shift was in thinking. We went from being output focussed to outcome focussed. By introducing integrated parameters and with a dynamic understanding of qualitative outcomes v/s quantitative outputs, we were able to attract new business and ensure client delight by almost hitting bullseye with the results for most campaigns.
When compared to other Asian markets, what are your views on Mindshare India’s performance? What advantages and challenges does the industry face when it comes to the fragmentation of media, especially mobile?
Compared to our Asian counterparts, we face equal or more challenges. Last year, Mindshare India walked away with prestigious accolades owing to the brilliant work across verticals, which we look at as a great pat on the back, and motivation to push harder.
To answer the second part, for us, fragmentation of media is not a threat. We look at it as a growing opportunity. It presents an opportunity for integrated and simultaneous use of media spaces.
The fact is that unless you are experimenting, you will not be able to move. Here, the key would be to
strategically and systematically drive solutions and look at challenges as a chance to unearth possibilities.
How has integrated Urban+Rural ratings from BARC changed the measurement ecosystem? How do you see it altering the way marketing budgets are deployed in the ‘many Indias’?
There is more viewership learning patterning from 49% of our critical audience. This makes things more robust than what we have had so far. It is getting more interesting to read the data. Some of the learnings like importance of FTA (free-to-air) and the significant contribution from rural and its distinct play of viewership patterns are driving us towards the right solutions.
How does Mindshare differentiate itself within the group and outside?
Mindshare has ensured that we build and differentiate strong and relevant products and practices for now and the future. Our philosophy of being adaptive is put into action while we work on campaigns and projects. Today, the client has ceased to look at us as only as a media agency because we are able to bring in the importance of deeper consumer understanding using and leveraging the data sets along with many
In fact, we look at ourselves beyond being the old traditional media agency, when we look for solutions for brands. The solutions can come from anywhere and it is important as a culture to build a practice bringing in unique and innovative thinking. The ecosystem for us has expanded and weaves across technology and diversified practices. This is mostly possible through our strategic partnerships across businesses and innovations on data and product.
What is the future of media agencies in India? What changes need to be made to stay ahead in the curve?
As media agencies, we need to cease being restrictive. Media is a space of endless possibilities and we work in a dynamic universe where nothing is constant.
For example, our recent partnership with Gramener strongly resonates with our belief of dynamism.Through this partnership we are looking to create bespoke products in the data management and visualisation space.
The first project undertaken after the partnership was for English news channel Times Now on May 19, 2016, when the state election results were announced.
The team put together a unique, real-time visualisation of historic and current data, dating right back to the time of Independence in 1947. This garnered high ratings for the show, stood out strongly in the news clutter and gave viewers a compelling experience.
We envisage partnerships like these and are working towards it effectively to set standards for the future of media agencies. And yes, we will have more news in this space soon.