R Balki , Group Chairman , MullenLowe Lintas Group


“I don’t know why it is such a big deal, I just had fun and I’m just going away, I think nothing interesting is happening in advertising right now, so my going away is one day of excitement, it is like award shows to be forgotten, after a day,” says R. Balakrishnan aka Balki (Group Chairman MullenLowe Lintas Group) with characteristic candour, on the reactions to the news of him bidding adieu to advertising after a three decade-long career in the industry.

Balki spent the bulk of his advertising years at the MullenLowe Lintas Group. He joined the agency (then known as Lintas) in 1994, in its Bangalore office.

Yannick Bollore , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer , Havas Group


Havas is a digital native company: Yannick Bollore

“I think the average age of employees at Havas is 27, it is a digital native company,” says Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Havas Group, in a matter of fact manner exuberating quiet confidence, while we quiz him on the group’s digital focus and growth plans.

“Everybody is digital. Out of 20,000 people today, 10,000 of the people were not here two years ago. All these 10,000 people that have joined us are all 100 per cent digital, they all understand digital. We don’t have a digital specialist; everybody is a digital specialist. We have to first understand that we have technology specialists but we do not have digital specialists. I have 20,000 people in Havas, if anyone tells me that he doesn’t know digital and he doesn’t do digital for clients then he will not stay at Havas. Everybody is digital because digital is a part of real life, it’s not something different,” elaborates Bolloré.

Michael Roth , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer , Interpublic Group of companies, (at Cannes)


We have become stronger, bigger and our price has gone up: Michael Roth

Treating each existing client as a new pitch is the way one should treat clients, believes a visibly exhausted but upbeat Michael Roth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Interpublic Group of companies, (at Cannes).

Rob Norman , Global Chief Digital Officer , GroupM


We need to create advertising assets that are not just compelling but "thumb-stopping" creative: Rob Norman, GroupM

Addressing delegates at the International Advertising Association (IAA) Cabana, during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016 in a special session held by Hindustan Times, GroupM’s Global Chief Digital Officer Rob Norman stressed upon significant issues in managing supply chain in digital media.

“Everything boils down to an interesting notion - what presents an authentic opportunity? Every advertiser, when he spends money on an impression or on any other unit of advertising has the legitimate expectation that the publisher will be one in which the advertisement is seen by a human being for at least a feasible amount of time, and not by a robot or a fraudster,” he said.

Arun Iyer , Chief Creative Officer , Lowe Lintas


“Go to a pitch with your point of view, not necessarily what the client wants, because at the end of the day they come to you because they want your thinking,” believes Arun Iyer, Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas.

“We don’t carry options for pitches we go with a point of view, we strongly feel about, which is also why about 80 per cent of the pitch work is actually the first piece of work that we do for a client,” he shares.

Iyer, who took on the mantle of CCO last year, was earlier joint NCD with Amer Jaleel. As CCO, he believes one of his jobs is to make sure that while today is good, the next six months are lined up well.

The agency has consistently been in the news be it for kick-starting the year with its winning performance at the Effies or its recent work on Google’s photo feature that is being widely shared.

Rana Barua and Ashish Chakravarty , CEO and CCO , Contract


In a freewheeling chat, Rana Barua and Ashish Chakravarty, Contract’s CEO and CCO respectively get talking on the agency’s recent wins, which include ITC Personal Care, Century LED bulbs, Abbott Healthcare, Lupin OTC, Orient Fans, Reckitt & Colman, Garnier among others. Contract has also won the mandate for mygov.in, one of the largest mandates from the Government of India.

The duo field questions on receiving offers from other agencies, what is a compelling offer to them, taking Contract to the next level why clients are willing to wait for the agency today and more

Charles Courtier , Global CEO , MEC


MEC’s Global CEO Charles Courtier gets candid about not playing the under-cutting game, why more regular pitching is the new normal after the ‘Mediapalooza’ of 2015, take-aways from as well as focus areas for MEC India

Sajan RaJ Kurup , Founder & Creative Chairman , Creativeland Asia


Last year was an eventful year for Sajan Raj Kurup Founder & Creative Chairman Creativeland Asia, a visibly exhausted but spirited Kurup gets candid about why industry do’s are ‘unexciting’ for him, why staying away from Goafest has added to the agency’s culture and focus, expanding operations beyond India, Why charging a pitch fee still works for CLA, his thought process behind work for Micromax, and life after Parle Agro.

Carter Murray , Worldwide CEO , FCB


Carter Murray, Worldwide CEO, FCB, talks about his expectations from Rohit Ohri who will don the role of Group Chairman and CEO (India) in January this year, speculations around talent moving from Dentsu to FCB. He also reacts to speculations around Satbir Singh, and talks about reasons for not wanting to make any revolutionary changes in to the agency in India. Excerpts:

Vikram Sakhuja , Equity Partner and Group CEO , Madison Media Group (including OOH)


“All media agencies today are gearing for change in an environment of digital, data, and technology. This is potentially changing the way we target, work seamlessly across media, deal with a connected consumer and deliver outcomes. This re-engineering, if you want to call it that, is as applicable to Madison as it is too any other agency. I hope to play my role in being a catalyst of change”

Sheldon Monteiro , Global Technology Officer , SapientNitro


We are looking for brands that are looking to change the status quo

Jim James , Founder and CEO , Eastwest Public Relations


Mobile communications mean that it is possible to be on 24/7, and there is an anxiety that the competition will be using speed as a source of competitive advantage. Clients therefore have less time to plan strategy and to consider results. This I think is a shame, but I do not see the pace of change becoming any slower, only faster as 4G networks roll out and communications will not rely on Wi-Fi enabled locations. In other words, we will be able to work in real time from anywhere. The opportunity for the PR practitioner is to be a trusted advisor to the client by keeping focused on the messaging and the media while the client manages their internal processes.

Jonathan Hughes , President, International , Golin


I think Asia is beginning to understand the dividends that can be had when you treat your brand or company reputation like any other commercial asset. A good reputation pays off in terms of consumer preference, customer loyalty, talent attraction and retention and faster recovery when issues inevitably occur.

Ameer Ismail , Executive Director , LinOpinion GH


One of the primary innovations has centered around how we work. We have successfully adopted Golin’s G4 model, which has transformed the way we work and enabled us to better our product. We have also successfully leveraged our partnership with Mullen Lowe Lintas Group and make use of the unique expertise and talent that resides there.

John Sheehy , President of Global Operations , Starcom Mediavest Group


The pace of change in the marketplace, driven by convergence is so rapid, so pervasive, that clients who haven’t done a pitch, in the last couple of years, are stepping back and saying it is getting more complicated, and asking ‘as an agency how are you helping me bring these together and drive us forward?’. Part of the pitch is to understand agency’s capability that is the primary driver.

Dr Michael Karg , CEO International , Razorfish


What I have noticed about the India market is that historically it has always looked to the West and US to develop similar services. It is missing a big trick by not developing its own Indian way of engaging the consumer. It is very different from China for example, where the platforms are completely unique from those of the western world and are tailor made to the needs of the local consumers.

Alex Leikikh , Global CEO , Mullen Lowe


There are some markets converting to Mullen Lowe immediately. Mullen Lowe, NY, Boston, Brazil already converted. However there are some markets where the brand has been so strong for so many years, like Lowe Lintas in India. It is a household brand. I don’t think we should paint the whole world with one Mullen Lowe brush. In some markets where the brand is so strong like Lowe Lintas in India, maybe we don’t rebrand it. I am not going to go and push all markets and rebrand everything. There is a case to be made in certain markets where the brand is extraordinarily strong.

Suzanne Powers , Global Chief Strategy Officer , McCann Worldgroup


In India there is this thing of National Identity. At the same time there is this ‘Arm Chair Globalist’ which constitutes 67 per cent of the total. Arm chair globalisters are the ones who have not really travelled much but are interested to know what is happening around the world. And when you go back to the trust on the local brands, it is one of the highest. It is almost 75 per cent. Therefore, there is a huge trust on local brands as well. Globally, more than half of the people prefer global brands but in India it is less than half.

Arnab Goswami , Editorial Director & Editor- In- Chief , Times Now


There is no point blaming anyone including the media buying fraternity for that. The only option if your viewership has fallen is to do soul-searching on the subject and find the reason. One day you say that TAM is bad and tomorrow you will say that BARC is bad... you can’t keep blaming measurement systems, but you can have a strong connect with the viewer to the best of your ability.

MK Anand , MD & CEO , Times Network


2016 is the year of marketing and improving our sales position and mostly by improving our yield; and by improving yield I’m not going to say that I will mindlessly change my prices. I want to tell my brands and business partners that just because I am sitting, don’t take me to be a duck.