Madhukar Kamath, Group CEO & MD, Mudra Group (Chairman – Organising Committee for AdAsia) and Ashish Bagga, CEO, The India Today Group (Co-Chairman for AdAsia) were recently in
as part of the AdAsia 2011 Road Show. Marylou Andrew caught up with them to talk about why the Congress is useful in the current marketing environment. Pakistan
MARYLOU ANDREW: Why is the
AdAsia Road Show important?
MADHUKAR KAMATH: AdAsia 2011 will be held in
from October 31 to November 3. There are four areas that you build a Congress on. The organising aspect; putting together content that will attract a great draw; ensuring that delegates from across Asia attend, and ensuring that there is good interaction throughout the social events. There will be 20 sessions spread over two and a half days and 40-45 speakers of global repute, experience and knowledge. Given the product and content, we wanted to spread the message in as many countries as possible. We have done road shows in New Delhi Thailand, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam and we are going to Tokyo, Jakarta, Malaysia and . We are hoping to attract about 400-500 international delegates; some from Europe and the Singapore US, although it will be of greater interest to people from Asia. However, AdAsia is not just about ads and Asia. The eyes of the world are now on Asia. Every global corporation has new strategies for handling Asia. At AdAsia people will come together to see what is relevant and what they can take out and apply to their context. It will be a very enriching experience.
MLA: What useful purpose do congresses like AdAsia serve?
ASHISH BAGGA: The world is changing so drastically and it is important for us to keep abreast of best practices as seen by the experts. We have looked at the different domains of marketing, advertising, etc., and identified the thought leaders and best practitioners and invited them to come and talk to us. If AdAsia did not exist, you would have had sporadic interventions by inviting one or two speakers on a local level and that would be it; AdAsia gets the best minds from across the globe. Our theme, ‘Uncertainty: The new certainty’ demonstrates that there is so much disruption happening in business models and ideas. We do this once in two years but perhaps the time has come to do it annually, because the world is changing so dynamically. Nobody anticipated that we would go through such a drawn out recession and now that we have emerged from it, we are looking at opportunities and if these guys can help us with even two or three good ideas which we can take back to our businesses and work domains and make a change, it’s worth it.
MLA: Your theme is interesting, but are ad agencies tailoring their business models and solutions to reflect this reality?
MK: Building a brand is a joint project between the marketer and the advertiser, and everyone knows that the people involved in brand building have to keep their minds open to new learning. The environment is forcing and dictating the change that is required in marketing organisations, media companies and ad agencies. Given the current scenario and the flux, every single company that is connecting to consumers through any brand, whether it is a service brand or a media brand, is changing its thinking.
MLA: How will media owners benefit from AdAsia?
AB: Media has seen much turmoil and change over the last couple of years. As you know, media is largely dependent on advertising. In the Asian region, mainly
South Asia, media is very cheap and the business model is constructed around advertising, and when advertising takes a beating, whether it is because of the economic slowdown, technology or new media forms, conventional media models come under threat. Publishers have broad based the touch points of their respective brands to different media forms. The conventional model of a print and TV media brand has changed dramatically. What has not changed, and probably will not change quickly, is the trust and faith readers and users have in established media brands. By building multiple touch points, you are building your brand and that brand can manifest itself across many platforms. What those platforms are, what opportunities are available, what is the learning from the developed world? This is what publishers and media owners would like to learn,
and people who are at the leading edge of change will enrich the audience.
MLA: How will agencies and the media in the region change within the next two or three years?
MK: Agencies across the region are changing in terms of structure, their approach to the business and the new talent that needs to be attracted. The requirement for brand builders will exist as long as brands have to be built, but you have to be cognisant of the fact that brands have to be built differently because of the complex media environment, the interplay between different existing media and the changing demands of the consumer.
AB: It’s a unique challenge for agencies and media and the issues are common. It is basically the consumer whose environment has become that much more complex. It is very important for media to understand this, but unfortunately conventional media with conventional editors find it increasingly difficult to keep pace, therefore we need to re-skill our content creators and experts. We need to understand that the days of one-way communication are gone. You might publish a newspaper in the morning but you need to engage with your readers through the day, hour and minute. Media brands have to be built and nurtured adequately across platforms and they have to address their consumers in a way which is engaging and across the continuum.
First published in the September-October 2011 issue of