Hype is what gets you going, so believe most media agencies. But, for the Havas-owned MPG or Media Planning Group, it's quite the contrary. The agency has been setting up its Indian operations in virtual silence, with no attempt at customary one-upmanship. "We are the seventh-largest media services company worldwide (minus Asia and Middle East), and I would rather let my work do the talking," says Sandip Tarkas, president, MPG - South Asia.
With the agency having been 'soft launched' as late as October last year, the former general manager of Mindshare Fulcrum would know the importance of concentrating on 'work'. "There are disadvantages of starting late," he explains. "Visibility has to be that much higher and the battle is a lot tougher.
But one look at the agency's client roster and all doubts vis-à-vis strength and size are put to rest. Apart from the Reckit Benckiser (estimated to be worth Rs 60 crore) and Intel businesses - for which the agency will do both planning and buying - MPG also has Dell, Microsoft, MSN, Radico Khaitan, HDFC Bank, SBI Mutual and Voltas (planning). Further, the agency has aggressive plans to acquire new business with a clutch of full-fledged offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and satellite offices in Chennai and Kolkata.
"MPG will be positioned as a media boutique," Tarkas asserts, following it up with a clichéd, "Ours will be a differentiated product, customized to suit client needs." Egg him about these 'differentiated offerings' and you draw a blank. "Our range of services will be exposed in April this year," is the best you can get out of him.
Though planning is crucial to MPG worldwide (the agency is known for its superior planning abilities), Tarkas quickly adds that, "Buying will not take a backseat. Planning and buying are integral to the business, which will not be compromised. The point here is that we would prefer to partner with our clients and work as a thinking agency."
In short, "ideas will be crucial", but again Tarkas chooses to take a cautious approach regarding the tools the Indian agency is likely to borrow from its parent. "We will use some of their tools, especially the ones that can be adapted to Indian conditions. But what is crucial for us is to understand and learn from their reservoir of experience." Currently, the Indian team is forty strong, but there are plans to close the year with an additional twenty. "We are a lean and focused organization, with plans to get bigger and better," the note of warning cannot be missed.
Capitalized billing is currently a little below the Rs 200-crore figure, and Tarkas is keen to see that grow by 25 per cent. "It is a modest target, which we hope to achieve this year," he says. Key areas of growth include categories of healthcare and technology (the latter is the mainline sector for sister agency Euro RSCG), which will form the crux of their client portfolio. "Our existing crop is a decent mix of FMCG, financial services and technology, and I don't see why we can't grow the current sectors," Tarkas reasons. "Besides new areas, organic growth is also crucial to the survival of an organization." Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!