Ankit Ajmera

<B><FONT COLOR="#FF0033">GoaFest 2007:</FONT></B> Meenakshi Madhvani holds a mirror to the ad fraternity

Madhvani talked of the factors that are hindering the growth of the Indian advertising industry, and cautioned that it might not be pleasant for its members if she held up a mirror to it

At the ad conclave jointly organized by AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and IBF (Indian Broadcasting Federation) on the sides of GoaFest 2007, the point of debate was whether the Indian advertising industry could take a quantum leap from its existing size of Rs 15,000 crore to a whopping Rs 50,000 crore. Several panellists at the forum presented their opinion, but Meenakshi Madhvani, managing partner, Spatial Access Solutions, started off saying that she would hold a mirror to the industry, which would not be pleasant for many.

According to her, the current size of the advertising industry was larger than the quoted Rs 15,000 crore, if the Rs 10,000 crore BTL (below the line) industry were included. She said the Rs 15,000 crore figure is applicable only to the mass media and, by ignoring the share of BTL, the advertising industry was not only limiting its path to growth, it was also displaying how disorganised it is.

Comparing India’s per capita advertising spends with other Asian markets such as China and Thailand, Madhvani said the gulf is huge. While in India, per capita advertising spend stands at $3, in China and Thailand, the figures are $30 and $48, respectively.

The biggest block facing the advertising industry today is that most media and creative agencies undervalue their work and, as a result, can never charge a fair price, she said. Media agencies often work on a commission as low as 1 per cent; for creative agencies, the figure is a little higher at about 5 per cent. The entire industry still runs on the belief that if I do not do it, someone else will.

Madhvani said she felt strongly that such incompetence on the agency’s part was often borne by the media owners and this should not be the case.

She further said that advertising was a tool to change people’s opinion, perspective and attitude. But the irony was that the advertising industry, instead of being an agent of change, was serving merely as a commission agent. “The consumer is changing, but the industry is not,” she quipped.

Madhvani said the industry needed to create leaders who were not just page 3 personalities, but actually inspired the youth of the country. For inspiration, the advertising industry can look up to the Indian IT industry, which has truly world class leaders. This is the only way in which the industry can solve it talent crunch.

Madhvani suggested that the Indian advertising industry is currently standing on three pillars: the agencies, the media and the advertisers. If a fourth leg by the name of ‘accountability’ were introduced, it would make the industry more balanced and stable and lead to a better path of growth.

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