afaqs! news bureau
The Planner’s Special

"Talent today does not find the agency business attractive"

An interview with Anita Nayyar, CEO, India & South East Asia, Havas Media Group. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 21 of 31.

What, in your view, was your agency's best campaign of 2019? What about it impressed you?

Without a doubt, I’d name the Durex campaign, which has completely changed the face of condom advertising. From a consumer perspective, the campaign breaks all taboos and inhibitions, making discussions around the act interesting and pleasurable.

In 2020, what is that big trend that ought to concern or excite media agencies?

The biggest concern for media planning and buying agencies will be to engage meaningfully with the audience in a hyper-cluttered media environment. This concern itself is a source of excitement for agencies, as they try to find effective and impactful ways to engage.

In the context of media planning/buying, what's the one global practice/trend India will do well to catch up with fast?

We should catch up with the trend of deciphering the digital ecosystem well, and making it measurable and accountable.

From a media spend perspective, which product groups do you suppose will be most affected by the economic slowdown that has crept up on us - and least?

Spends across all product categories have been affected. The low phase the automobile sector is going through is something that one reads and hears about on a daily basis. E-commerce spends should be least affected.

And within that, what consumption trends are you seeing in rural versus urban markets?

Urban markets are saturated; it is rural markets that bring a ray of hope. The industry will be driven by rural consumption across product categories.

In the next 12 months, the solution to the digital ad fraud menace will come from...

We will solve this problem if we have strict laws, digital policies, and regulations. These are of utmost importance.

What kind of specialisation/talent is missing in media agencies today?

Media as an industry – especially media agencies – is facing a huge talent shortfall, as talent today does not find the agency business attractive. Ours is a resource intensive industry in which people need to be looked after well. However, the shrinking margins in agencies are making the business unattractive. Hence, we see a dearth of talent and skill sets.

I wish clients would...

... respect the value the media agencies bring to the table as they did many years back. Treat agencies as partners and not vendors.

Nayyar will no longer be associated with Havas Media Group w.e.f. May 2020.

Note: This interview was conducted for the mid-March edition of our magazine afaqs!Reporter. It is a special issue dedicated to the top media planning and buying executives, who service some of India's largest advertisers. Market conditions have changed dramatically since this interview was first written and any apparent obsoletion therein must be seen in that context. To read/download all 31 interviews, please click here.