In April 2018, Panasonic appointed Vivek Sharma as managing director. He is the first Indian to take over the role of MD in the history of the company. Previously, he worked as joint managing director with the company.
In the past, Sharma has worked with the Everstone Group, Morphy Richards, Inalsa Appliance, Maharaja Appliance, and Phillips India.
Anchor by Panasonic recently released two TVCs which were conceptualised by Leo Burnett. The company is spending an upward of Rs 100 crore on marketing.
In an interview with afaqs! Sharma talks about Anchor's new ads, the content landscape, and his expectation from agencies, in a quick chat.
1. How would you define your personal brand of leadership? How have the past few months at Anchor Panasonic been; what has kept you busy? And how much of your time is spent dealing with marketing and media?
Every leader/manager has their own style. My style has evolved depending on the background I work with. Leadership styles evolve as you move to various companies. To begin with, I am a micro-level person. I like to go into details, be centralised and I like to have my finger in every pie. In that sense - what the pie is like; is it cooking properly; is there enough sugar etc. So once the basics are right and a person can make a good pie, then I tend to give a lot of leeway. Something I personally ensure is that the person who delivers the job gets the credit. My personal belief is on a poster in my cabin which says - You don't build the business, you build the people and they build the business - that's where I come from.
2. In a press note, you mentioned you are keen on "enhancing consumer connect" for both brands Anchor and Panasonic. How do you plan to do this? What are the channels/platforms through which this can be achieved?
At the end of the day, for any brand, the core of existence or of being is consumers. So, what is a brand that doesn't connect with consumers? Therefore, consumer connect, relevance and acceptance are the three things around which any brand lives or dies. In our case, apart from doing a 360-degree multimedia campaign, we have spent two times more than any other single campaign in the past. So, putting our money where our mouth is, behind the efficacy of the brand and product segment we are in.
Recently, for the second time, we advertised on Mumbai and Delhi Metros (two rakes). The last time it was for the launch of Urban Roma. That proved very successful. Seeing the response, we might run it again for another month few weeks down the line. We are focusing on all Out of Home media. We are also doing a lot of work on digital, where youngsters are active. We recently tied up with a lot of agencies too. We are getting novelty and taking the connect through to a lot of interfaces and stretching it as far as we can go.
3. A brand you admire and why. Also - ads you have learnt from - that is, whichever brand, in your view, has got its advertising bang on - and why?
A brand need not necessarily be a marketing brand, it could also be people. One brand I really admire is Amitabh Bachchan and another is Sachin Tendulkar. I am not a fan of brand Virat Kohli. So, when it comes to Bachchan and Tendulkar, their agencies and marketing companies have done a good job. In Bachchan's case there's invention, re-invention, re-engineering, re-positioning, all of which is continuously evolving; that and the ability to cut across income segments, age, economic background etc. I don't know of any other brand in India which has been able to do that. Even today, if his ad comes on TV, people stop their work to see it. The flip side is sometimes people don't know which side he is advertising for. 'Woh Bachchan sahab ki ad thi' and that can happen. However, in his case, it happens less than it does with others like Shah Rukh Khan.
It's the same for Tendulkar. Among the younger set, a good brand value or association would be Akshay Kumar, although he hasn't made it too big. But he is pretty prominent these days. In corporate brands, I admired Parle, an FMCG brand which has evolved. It maintains its significance for the target market they seek to cater to, is a growing company, has immense recall and is an Indian brand that has done well.
4. What's the most important quality for an advertising agency partner to have today?
It is to create a communication that is relevant, unique and can strike a chord; be it emotional or rational and more importantly, connect with consumers.
5. Advertising has given way to 'content'. How do you define this word? And what's the role of 'advertising' vs 'content' in the life of Anchor and Panasonic?
It is not only in advertising. Content is a buzzword everywhere. You make a simple presentation, it is content, but it has to be meaningful and has to provide some value, change perspectives and behaviour, that's what content should do. For us, content is a medium to reach out to consumers to make them understand and that's where the role of agencies come in. With Hotstar becoming a hot property and the convergence of media, the definition of content is changing.
6. Rival brands in the electricals space (Havells and RR Kabel) are prolific advertisers. To what extent do you track their media presence and how does that impact the way you/your team briefs your agency and media partners? (Also - Havells has taken the emotional route whereas RR Kabel has taken the fun/comedic route... your recent ads for Anchor are humorous...)
Our brief to our agencies doesn't change. But at the same time, we have tie-ups with agencies that give us detailed movement by rival brands in the market and they keep presenting us, periodically, with what sort of media spends are done by competitors. We evaluate each of our campaigns and get details of what space we are taking; we always try to benchmark the top five players in the industry. This is what our agency partners are attuned to after working with us.
Our story and initiative is because of our objective and not because a rival brand has done something. We respect our competitors and they have their objectives. We are not as big a brand as Havells, RR Kabel or Polycab. What is important is our objective and consumers. Our objective is to stay different and unique. In the case of this campaign, I am happy we chose to be different and go our own way, it has kept us closer to our objective.
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