Devina Joshi

Lodestar Universal shouldn’t grow watching its competitors: David Morgan

David Morgan, president, Universal McCann, Asia Pacific, is currently on a visit to India. In an exclusive with agencyfaqs!, he, together with Shashi Sinha, throws light on the way forward for Lodestar Universal in India, and Universal McCann in the rest of Asia Pacific

David Morgan, president, Universal McCann, Asia Pacific, is on a visit to India, two months post the formation of Lodestar Universal (the result of a merger between Lodestar and Universal McCann in India). In a candid chat with agencyfaqs!, he talks about his plans for Universal McCann in Asia Pacific, and more specifically, Lodestar Universal in India.

“My first job is to take forward Universal McCann’s global vision of ‘Next Thing Now’ and adapt it suitably in the A-Pac region,” says Morgan, who is less than three weeks old in the organisation. Prior to this, he has worked in the media function for agencies such as JWT, Leo Burnett, Carat (London), MindShare, mediaedge:cia and Euro RSCG.

While he is upbeat about the fact that Universal McCann has a rich client roster globally, he also has his feet planted firmly on the ground. Speaking about Lodestar Universal in India, he says, “We’re very clear that we can’t be number one in terms of billings and scale.”

“GroupM is way ahead of everyone, and we certainly don’t want to be ‘GroupM Part Two’,” he continues. “Lodestar Universal is a communications specialist, and the agency certainly cannot grow watching its competitors all the time. We have to look inwards.”

The immediate priority for Lodestar Universal will, therefore, be to grow its existing businesses, by driving value into its existing client relationships. This will be done by getting the people and systems in place. A common culture of ‘embracing change’ will be embedded among people in the agency. Lodestar Universal will also send out its feelers into the market, to ensure that the best pool of talent is attracted to it. It aims to be seen as a progressive and strong media entity. “Only once these things are in place, we will aggressively go after new businesses,” Morgan says.

Further, the agency is also eyeing growth in the non-traditional media space as an opportunity area. When asked about the trend of large agencies acquiring smaller outfits to cater to this space, Morgan admits, “Yes, an acquisition is an easy way out for most media agencies.”

“At Lodestar Universal, we’re open to such acquisitions, provided it is indeed necessary and will benefit our clients,” Morgan says. “But that’s not one of our immediate priorities right now. As I said, once our management structure, businesses and processes are in place, we will look at this area seriously.”

He further reveals that in a few weeks from now, Universal McCann will launch a branded process/philosophy globally, which will be brought to India as well. This process will help planners in the organisation to address client needs more effectively both in the traditional and more so, in the non-traditional media space. Further, the agency will invest in developing a proprietary tool that will ensure a greater thrust on measurability and return on investment (RoI), a matter of concern for most clients. “This tool will help us measure brand engagement, as opposed to purely brand exposure,” Morgan says.

He is, however, against the thought of a media agency launching several tools and applying them all to one brand. For the record, Lodestar Universal has 14-15 tools in India at present. “It’s not the number of tools, but how one uses it which is important,” Morgan advises.

Amongst its other plans, Lodestar Universal will also soon roll out ‘TV Graphics’, which is a segmentation of raw TAM data. TV Graphics will fine-tune TAM data to target the varied viewers within a segment in a better manner. “One will be surprised to know that there are different profiles of people in the same demographic group,” says Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal. “For instance, TV Graphics can throw up that a young male, SEC A, may be best reached on STAR Plus, of all the channels!” says Sinha, hypothetically. “The data is all there; one just needs to know how to use it well.”

Lodestar Universal already has Media Graphics in place, which is a segmentation of NRS data.

Apart from this, Lodestar Universal is also eyeing branded entertainment through advertiser funded programmes (AFP) for the first time. For its client Nerolac, it has conceptualised the show ‘Nerolac Impressions Jama De’ along with Contiloe Films. This weekly reality show delves into the concept of home makeovers, and will have the spouse of a celebrity redo the entire home while his/her beau is away on a trip. When this celeb gets back, the viewer gets to see the surprise on his face to see how his home has been transformed. This half-hour show will air on Zee TV on Saturdays at 7:30 pm.

Speaking on a broader plane, Morgan says, “India is the least of my worries at the moment, with Shashi at the helm of things. Universal McCann needs to pick up in China, which is where I will be placing my focus in the near future.”

© 2006 agencyfaqs!

Have news to share? Write to us