After authoring three books MG 'Ambi' Parameswaran, executive director and CEO, DraftFCB+Ulka is out with his recent creation: Ride the Change which is a compilation of 37 articles written by him over the years for various publications.
Q. What led to Ride the Change?
Ambi: First off, believe me, I didn't write them thinking they'll make for a book someday! (chuckles). I looked at 50 in all, and while selecting the final lot, I discovered that most of them are about change. On further segmenting, I realised that a fair number of them are about changing consumers, markets, marketing and advertising, which explains the four sections - the order of these is also a reflection of how things changed, with consumers leading it, followed by markets. Newspapers have a short shelf life, and these articles merited a wider audience with a longer shelf life, the primary reason for this book.
Q. Your earlier book, Building Brand Value, was not for 'flight reading' in your own words. What about this one?
Ambi: Oh, this is totally for flight reading, and can be consumed in about two hours. It's a compilation of short articles, and while there is some amount of sequencing in the book, a reader could begin anywhere…unlike a regular book that is sequenced by chapters, there is freedom for a reader to move around.
Q. The late Subroto Sengupta, former CEO of Clarion Advertising, is believed to have influenced you to turn author. Your comments?
Ambi: Yes, well, he met me a year before he passed away as he needed some assistance to finish the second edition of his book, Brand Positioning. He also included one of my pieces in his book. Then I got to know he passed away, and hadn't been able to complete the book. Tata McGraw Hill approached me and asked me if I could help finish it. I was happy to, as Sengupta meant a lot to me. Furthermore, it amazed me that till Sengupta took to the pen, there were really no books by Indian authors on advertising! And I'm talking of the late 1990s here. The only other advertising author I can think of is Kurien Mathews of Radeus. These two gentlemen were the only ones who made a conscious effort to share their knowledge with the younger generation through their books.
Q. How did you first turn to writing?
Ambi: When I started teaching at Somaiya School of Management 14 years ago, I realised I didn't have a decent quality collection of case studies to give out to my students. I then wrote cases on Santoor, Sundrop and others and passed these on as handouts. I realised I could put these together and come out with a collection of Indian cases of relevance. That is how the first book happened.
Q. Almost all the articles in Ride the Change bear findings from some study done by DraftFCB+Ulka or Cogito Consulting. True?
Ambi: Of the 37, about 14 would be based on the work done in our agency. Proprietary tools and studies - FCB Grid, AutoMood or WomanMood - have thrown up interesting data that deserved to be shared. Rest are based on other published business data gathered from various sources.
Q. Are you satisfied with the kind of advertising, media and marketing books currently on the shelf by Indian authors?
Ambi: I am glad to see Indian authors increasingly competing for shelf space and succeeding at that. I'll say we have at least 10 good Indian authors to write on these subjects. I admire writings by Rama Bijapurkar, Anand Halve, Jayanta Sengupta and Vanita Kohli-Khandekar to name some.
Q. Who does this book target?
Ambi: Young executives, product managers, marketing managers, and even students of management and marketing who want an insight on the dramatic changes in the marketplace over the last 10 years. There are articles on teenagers increasingly playing a role on the purchase decisions, the changing role of women in society and the delegation of responsibilities by the man of the house to his wife, which was unthinkable some time ago.
Q. Is it a difficult task to get the new generation to read?
Ambi: Every generation thinks the younger ones aren't laying its hands on reading good material. But one has to understand that the youth also has a lot more information thrown at them than what we were exposed to. It's the 'neither here, nor there' kind of books that fall in the middle that will be under pressure.