An interview with Parthasarathy Mandayam, CEO, South Asia, Mindshare. This is part of a special series of conversations with media agency heads - interview 22 of 31.
What, in your view, was your agency's best campaign of 2019? What about it impressed you?
There were so many great, award-winning campaigns last year; it’s hard to choose one. I am especially fond of campaigns that transformed the experience consumers had with brands – like the “Truckasana” campaign for Castrol, the EVM deployed by Lifebuoy at Kumbh Mela and the industry leading voice engagement created for Idea.
In 2020, what is that big trend that ought to concern or excite media agencies?
I think the biggest thing that concerns as well as excites us, and marketers, is the aspect of evolving regulations around the usage of data. I believe it gives us an opportunity to do true data-driven marketing in a responsible manner, but we need to evolve significantly to unlock this opportunity.
In the context of media planning/buying, what's the one global practice/trend India will do well to catch up with fast?
There has traditionally been a division between 'planning for brand' and 'planning for demand', with distinct processes, touch-points and skill-sets involved in each. This needs to be brought together and planning for an integrated consumer journey needs to be done.
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?
Products that are viewed as discretionary expenses will be affected the most, especially among the less affluent sections of society.
And within that, what consumption trends are you seeing in rural versus urban markets?
Growth in the past has been powered by small town and rural markets. And the slowdown has affected these markets to a higher degree than large urban markets.
In the next 12 months, the solution to the digital ad fraud menace will come from...
There is no one silver bullet to resolve ad fraud, because the frauds are also evolving at a rapid rate. The only solution is to have stringent processes and guardrails that also evolve as quickly. GroupM is leading this initiative by deploying relevant tools, guardrails, measurement systems and contractual agreements to prevent brands from incurring legal, reputational or financial losses.
What kind of specialisation/talent is missing in media agencies today?
Agencies today have invested in specialist talent in areas like data science and ad tech. We have always had expertise in consumer insights and planning rigour. However, what is in short supply is talent that’s able to integrate these two to unlock real value.
I wish clients would...
With data being the core that powers growth for brands, it is beneficial for clients to consolidate the various elements of marketing around a unified data lake rather than letting it stay fragmented across multiple agencies.
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.