afaqs!

Goafest 2011: Advertisers want agencies to be their strategic partners

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Goa | In Advertising | April 08, 2011
At the first session of the Goafest Advertising Conclave, advertisers shared their views on whether or not agencies are ready for the new decade.

Much has changed in the realm of communications. With the dawn of a new decade, are agencies well equipped to meet newer challenges and the changing dynamics?

In the opening session of the Goafest Advertising Conclave, held at Zuri White Sands, Goa, on April 7, advertisers presented their views on the topic. Srinivasan K Swamy, chairman, Goafest Advertising Conclave 2011, chaired the session.

In his opening address, Swamy spoke of the reasons that ail advertising. He spoke of relent crunch, indiscriminate pitching, reduced profitability, traditional agency structures, and disintegrated agency services.

He said that the agency of the future must be 'unlike an agency'. According to Swamy, agencies must act like communication consultants as against creative or media consultants. He encouraged the idea of agencies partnering and advising clients, and not just being a factory of ideas.

Following Swamy's address was the first speaker of the day, Rajiv Dube, director, group corporate services and director, Aditya Birla Management Corporation.

Dube said that there are many issues that need to be addressed. He said that advertisers would wish agencies to be their strategic partners and not just a source of creative inputs.

"We require our partners to sit with us and think the future before putting our heads together. And, we hope to frame the vision of the future together," he said.

"We would like agencies to understand our business as much as we do and help us understand the consumer's point of view as well," added Dube.

He further spoke about how services by an agency have disintegrated, with organisations developing specialised arms for various services such as advertising, media buying, and public relations, among others single agency.

"What we used to get under one roof, we now get it from 10 different partners. There is a lot of specialisation, but we would be more comfortable tomorrow if we could get all the services from one agency," Dube said.

He stressed on the need for building long-term strong relationships where agencies could work with advertisers, without having to pitch every now and then.

Dube also touched upon the challenge of attracting the right talent, a problem faced by both agencies and advertisers. He said that stability is of prime significance and one must invest and pay stronger heed to attract, retain and engage talent on a long-term basis.

Talking about remuneration, he said that advertisers do not shy away from spending more than usual for quality work.

"The world has moved away from a fixed remuneration structure. The world of tomorrow must feature both the fixed and variable. To get quality work, we have to pay attention to the remuneration structure," Dube said.

Among other points in his discourse, he also suggested how senior managements must show greater involvement in the work. According to him, advertisers like to see similar levels of seriousness as is shown during a pitch process by seniors.

Dube ended his speech on a lighter note and suggested that advertising agencies must get over their self-obsession as the world of communication revolves around advertisers.

Mayank Pareek, managing executive officer, Maruti Udyog said that after the dramatic changes the previous decade witnessed, the one ahead shows further promise, with India emerging as a stronger economy than ever before.

Pareek spoke of the emergence of the rural economy. According to him, the concept of the village belonging to the poor is a myth. He said that one of the major challenges for agencies ahead is to communicate with this section of the population.

Pareek stressed on the need for stronger partnership between the agencies and advertisers.
"It can no longer be about a brief being given and creative work being churned out. Agencies and advertisers must work as co-partners and focus to bring out relevant solutions," he said.

Pareek said that new ways to measure quality work must be thought of. "During the slowdown of 2008, the first thing that was cut was the ad budget. What is difficult to quantify, the board members cut first. Agencies must find new ways of relevant measurement," he said.

Towards the end, Pareek spoke of the rapid emergence of new media. He said that on the advertiser's mind are questions as to how new media will help communication, if the right content is available on that platform and if that content is engaging enough.

"New media is at the height of its hype curve. It is growing, though at real and substantial levels," he said.

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