Starcom, media specialist, is seriously looking at the possibility of partnering with standalone creative shops. Currently, it is evaluating some nine local creative agencies in the Delhi and Mumbai for suitable alliances. Once such alliances are in place, Starcom, hopes to increase its billing by 25-40 per cent over the next couple of years.
The rationale for entering into an alliance with creative standalones, explains D Sriram, chief executive, South East Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group, "…is to grow volume of business". So, besides Delhi and Mumbai, the media house may also look at tie-ups with creative agencies in other 'smaller' centres.
However, Sriram reiterated throughout his interaction with agencyfaqs!, that while his company is in talks with various agencies, what is important for the marriage to happen is 'the right cultural fit'. "There have been instances in the media industry in the past of similar relationships going sour. Which is why we are very clear about the kind of people we would talk to." The agencies under scrutiny are not large; Sriram specifies they are in the Rs 20-30 crore range with just a handful of accounts, those that cannot invest much in research, tools and people, but have a strong creative product. "Such partnerships will facilitate focused creative inputs," explains Sriram.
While Sriram did not rule out the possibility for partnering with more than one agency in a market, what he is certain about is that the decision on any partnership will be taken after a lot of deliberation.
"The strategic decision to partner with creative agencies is part of Starcom's 'external focus'," points out Sriram. By external focus, he means marketshare growth. "The last three years, our attention has been on making Starcom a financially well-run company. Now, in addition to focusing on profitability, our focus is also on share growth."
'External focus' entails understanding the position of Starcom vis-à-vis competition and getting into the consideration set of clients. "We have just celebrated our third anniversary and we rank fifth or sixth in India, which is not bad at all considering our age. While we are not aiming to be the number one or number two any time soon, we need to be more energetic in our drive towards increasing the share growth of Starcom," Sriram emphasises.
Getting into the consideration set of clients is a task fraught with challenges. Sriram feels Starcom has the wherewithal to be there. "Starcom has a unique competitive edge in terms of strategic planning. Because of that advantage we come out with actionable, compelling media strategies. The unfortunate part is that many clients do not really understand the benefits of strategic planning. And the media fraternity is to be blamed for that. Among other misconceptions - such as, size equals to buying capability - this too needs to be corrected," says Sriram. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!