Suraj Ramnath and Ashwini Gangal

Why the angry Indian consumer is giving the media buyer sleepless nights...

When consumers bash ads on social media, brands make quick decisions to withdraw them. But, it's the media buyer who does the dirty work.

Never mind ASCI. Never mind the law. Nothing makes an advertiser decide to pull an ad off air faster than the wrath of the offended Indian consumer on social media. Collective wrath, that is. Most recent examples include ads by Ola Cabs and Havells.

But, then what? Then begins the dirty work; media planners and buyers, who haggled with media owners, especially TV channels, to put the ads on air, have to go back to them and get them removed. Easier said than done.

While some media agency professionals shrug it off saying it's part of the job, others would much rather do without the last minute stress. A look at what they said about the all too frequent affair.

Edited Excerpts.

Dinesh Rathore, chief operating officer, Madison Media Omega

Why the angry Indian consumer is giving the media buyer sleepless nights...
Why the angry Indian consumer is giving the media buyer sleepless nights...
Why the angry Indian consumer is giving the media buyer sleepless nights...
Why the angry Indian consumer is giving the media buyer sleepless nights...
There is huge pressure from the brand. But, what can an agency do since many of these channels operate from Singapore and Hong Kong. We may want to pull it out and people here may help us out, but Singapore and Hong Kong don't work on weekends. There is pressure from the consumers on the brand. Today, the level of patience is very low with people. Clients want to start a campaign in a hurry, and then pull out in a hurry as well. They think media agencies are magicians. It's like when I press the switch, the light should come on, and when I switch it off, the light should go out. As an agency we can tell the client that we understand the situation and we are trying our best to do whatever we can. It's not as though that one spot will make or break the brand, right? If they are facing the heat on the social media, then the damage is already done. They can't blame the media agency for that. We are only executing what you have given us to do. I would blame the manager who is taking a call. Why are you taking a call on a Friday or a Saturday morning?

Pratap Bose, managing director and chairman, The Social Street

The media agency does what the client tells them. They don't take an independent decision. It is a joint decision between the client and the agency. More often, it is the client's call. The channel logs closing on Friday evening is a technical issue. If you have logged into Star and the tape is already gone, then obviously you can't do anything.

Divya Radhakrishnan, founder and director, Helios Media

When it is a brand, people turn it upside down. It is only going to be pulled out due to request. The channel is not going to pull it off, right? If they do that, then where will they go for inventory at the last minute? A reasonable amount of lead time would need to be given to pull off. It is not bound by the law that it needs to be pulled off, but it is a moral thing. For that you would need to have a stipulated lead time. You can't be unreasonable about it.

Mallikarjun Das, chief executive officer, Starcom MediaVest Group

This is just one instance. There could be a possibility where you have to pull out an ad because of The Advertising Standards Council of India's (ASCI) rule or any other reason. I feel it is a bit of nitpicking. These issues existed before (the advent of) social media and will continue to be there. Not all channel logs close on a Friday. There are some channels which require just a day's notice, but still the odds break down to 60-40 per cent from Monday to Thursday versus Friday to Sunday. Agencies face many such pressures and this is one aspect of operational pressure. The media agencies obviously understand it. At the end of the day, the agency, the client, and the channel work as partners. To my knowledge, we never have had issues with our media partners.

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