Services has globally re-launched itself as a communications planning expert. India is the first Asian market in which this new avatar has been unveiled. Communications planning will now be an integral part of Carat's offering through its newly rolled out global 3C process. The aim is to change with the changing times and move away from a pure media planning model to delve into more holistic communications planning.
Carat will also have a repositioning statement for itself: 'Transforming Communications'. The 3C process consists of three elements. The first, Curiosity, will enable the agency to understand the clients' businesses, consumers and market dynamics by drawing inspiration from 'anything and everything'.
The second element is Creativity, which means finding newer and more effective ways of communicating with the consumer, especially in the wake of the digital revolution, which is catching up in India as well. "Even traditional media are becoming digital around the world; we now have OOH and television going digital," says Patrick Stahle, acting CEO, Carat, Asia Pacific Region. Therefore, Carat will provide a special thrust in this area.
Lastly, Collaboration implies working together to get the best thinking/strategies to better clients' businesses.
Charles Berley Jenarius, group CEO, Carat India, highlights the need for this new identity by tracing the evolution of the agency model. With specialisation, the traditional agency model broke down and creative and media became separate entities. Other specialisations, such as DM, PR and sales promotions, also sprang up.
"In such a situation, clients were on the look-out for a single entity that could take the responsibility of becoming a brand custodian, or one that would ensure that there was full accountability and that the marketing objective was achieved," Jenarius says. "We will be that brand custodian for our clients."
According to him, as Carat is an independent agency (without any creative agency affiliations) and is return on investment (ROI) driven, it will be an unbiased partner for its clients.
Carat's main objectives are reducing mere exposure based activity, evolving from channel centric planning to consumer centric planning, creating greater engagement through demonstration/experience based activities and increasing ROI for its clients through branded initiatives, accountability and revenue realisation.
According to Rob Kabus, regional director, communication planning, Carat, Asia Pacific, it's time to move away from target groups to human beings (humanising the TG), from exposure to engagement, from campaign awareness measurement to brand preference studies, and from campaign delivery goals to business goals. "That is why we're calling it moving away from purely media planning to communications planning," he says. As mass media involves broad targets and a fair amount of wastage, Carat will focus more on one-to-one marketing and profiled customers.
The media process, too, is being reversed as per the Carat philosophy. Instead of starting with messages and then bombarding the consumers, the consumer will decide what content he wishes to see, which is why Carat will create relevant, engaging content. Carat will also roll out a survey, the Consumer Connect Study (CCS), in India this year. In a sense, account planning is becoming a part of Carat's offering.
The Carat process will work this way: Consumer → Strategy → Engagement → ROI. Carat already has a specialised unit in place for Strategy: Deep Blue, headed by Carat's executive director, K Subramanian. Here, the job will be to bring in brand sensibility to the processes.
Carat Brand Experiences will tackle the Engagement part by making an on-ground consumer connect with the brand, be it retail activation, branded content (for which talks are on with Endemol), the digital and Internet spaces, product launches, road shows or exhibits.
The Strategy Productivity Insight (SPI) Division will deal with the last process: ensuring accountability and greater ROI. This will be done by measuring marketing ROI, forecasting sales, optimising the marketing mix, optimising ad spend volumes and developing marketing strategies.
Carat will also launch extensive training to enhance the skill sets of its team members. Several key people will drive communications planning at the agency, including K Subramanian and Naman Sharma (who will be in charge of data and analytics).
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