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OCT 23, 2013 #018

We believe that sport is on a break-out point. For the longest time it’s been a cricket-only country Uday Shankar CEO STAR INDIA

Publicis acquires Beehive Communications


oday, Publicis India scored another win by picking up ten year old mid-sized full service agency Beehive Communications. Rumored to score revenues of nearly forty crore rupees, Beehive Communications, Publicis says, will help it rise to the top of Indian advertising. Storyboard’s Animesh Das reports. It’s been quite a year for Publicis India. After acquiring digital agency iStrat and brand consultancy MarketGate last December, the agency infused some much needed firepower to its leadership by getting Ambika Srivastava, Partha Sinha and Bobby Pawar on board. This week, it’s added to its kitty - it’s latest acquisition, the ten year old mid-sized full service agency, Beehive Communications.

Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia

Says Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia, “We set ourselves a target about a year and a half back to say not only do we want to double our scale, width and depth. But we, really want

to set ourselves up to take a fair shot at being the top three. When I say the top three, we want to be in the top three by scale, we want to be in the top three by reputation, we want to be in the top three by recognition. And so, we knew we had to do discontinuous things to get there. The strategy includes building scale, the strategy includes adding width of services. And the strategy includes adding depth of talent on our bench.” B Sanjit Shastri, CEO, Beehive Communications, adds, “I believe Publicis is structured right for a company like Beehive to be a part of. And to make things happen together with Publicis. That’s the first reason. Number two, I believe the management of Publicis has the right attitude of giving an organization the freedom to work in an open platform. And third, their focus on digital, new media and traditional media is something that we found very exciting.” Believed to have revenues to the tune of forty crore rupees, Beehive Communications currently services around 30 clients, across its advertising, digital, media, public relations and research teams. Prominent clients include Chambor, General Motors, Jockey, Indiabulls and Tourism Malaysia. The agency, which has offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, employs nearly 130 people. Though it will continue to operate as a standalone agency

for the time being, its marriage to Publicis means a name change to Publicis Beehive. Says B Sanjit Shastri, CEO, Beehive Communications, “We have a fairly unique mix of clients, a lot in travel, a lot in retail, a lot in… and some now in real estate and education. I believe that now the kind of bandwidth and knowledge Publicis brings to the table will really add value for those clients. But more than that, I believe that as part of the Publicis worldwide group, we will be able to do a lot more in this space.” Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis South Asia, adds, “What Beehive brings is, that they bring us scale. Most people don’t know, but they are fairly large size. They bring us, a much wider array of services than we currently provide. And most importantly, they bring us media. So it’s going to be interesting. Because Publicis Worldwide will now have a offering that will start with upstream consulting, creative, BTL, ATL, both, media, digital across all forms.” Publicis says this acquisition is part of its strategy to increase revenue from non-traditional advertising to 15% by next year. Only time will tell if Publicis makes it to the top three of Indian advertising, but it’s certainly got other agencies, and their holding companies, sitting up and taking notice. Publicis Groupe, as a network, has been slow to get off the blocks as far

Amul, it’s you who should be ashamed... Almost always, I love what Amul does with their topical ads. On the occasions that I dislike them, it is almost always I feel that the pun is much too forced. I cannot remember a time when I felt that the subject of the communication was unfairly targeted or that the comment was not fair. This time, unfortunately, I do. I think that this communication targeting Ishant Sharma is in very poor taste and grossly unfair to him. Ishant is not guilty of match-fixing. He is not guilty of corruption. He is not guilty of a crime. He is not involved in scandalous behaviour. All that has happened is that we have seen that Ishant Sharma cannot handle the slog overs well – and, on last occasion, his poor handling of his last over, without argument, cost India a match. There is no need whatsoever for him to be ashamed. By this warped logic, anyone who fails or does poorly at anything should be ashamed. A CEO whose company makes more losses (or less profits) than anticipated or projected by himself or herself should be ashamed. A child who is otherwise industrious and intelligent but has a bad case of examination nerves should be ashamed if he or she does badly. An aspirant for a job should be ashamed if he or she is nervous during an interview, and, as a result,

fails to get the job. Closer to Ishant, Chetan Sharma should be ashamed when Javed Miandid hit him for the last-ball six at Sharjah, Gavaskar and Tendulkar should have been ashamed each time they failed in a match that India lost, Milkha Singh should be ashamed that he failed to win gold at the Olympics. Amul has, unfortunately, played to the gallery this time, looking at superficial outpourings of public sentiment and pandering to this seeming sentiment, much as news channels decide on their stands on issues of the day. Up to this piece of communication, I saw Amul as a responsible editor, curating the most important issue currently, and using their cutting humour and simple art and presenting the resultant creative as a commentary on society, as the best editorial cartoonists do. From an RK Laxman to an Oliphant or a KAL, we smile each time we see their cartoons primarily based on their acute insights and their ability to hold a mirror to the society we live in. This Amul communication looks malicious, unfair and, to people like me, patently non-humorous. The ad embarrasses Ishant in the context of his family, friends, colleagues and anyone who has seen the ad. As far as I am concerned, anyone who has had anything to do with

this communication, whether at the advertising agency that created it or the management at Amul that cleared the communication should be ashamed of the work. This, to me, damages brand Amul. Amul has always been soft and friendly, making me smile during difficult times and helping me get more out of good times. On the occasions that they have taken pot-shots at people, the people have been the identifiable bad guys, not just an individual who had a bad day at the office. Amul is, through this piece of communication, upending the very spirit of sports. This communication suggests that winning is everything, that failure is something to be derided and mocked. The creators of this ad need to read a bit about how the greater world sees the issue. “Why do we say “it’s not the winning but the taking part that counts”? It’s a phrase echoed by the founder of the Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who said “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” Most people seem to agree that trying and failing is more admirable than not trying at all.” BBC says on ethics in sport. Do you get that, Amul?

Click on the image to watch how consumers could get two Cokes for the price of one

This ad is, unusally for an Amul ad, malicious and distasteful

Publicis, with this acquisition, significantly boosts their digital team size, offerings and capabilities

as their India game is concerned, but recent acquisitions, ending with Beehive, demonstrates their intent to up the game. But there is little left to buy. While more acquisitions might see them gain in expertise and in widening their range of offerings, there is little scope to add big revenues inorganically. The next six months to a year will be critical to Publicis’ plans in India,

as new acquisitions will have to blend competencies and cultures. If all the recent buys remain standalone, disparate companies, there will no osmosis between the companies and the talent in the companies. That will be the big challenge. To join the dots and get a Beehive, say, to work with an iStrat or a Marketgate to deliver higher quality solutions to clients in any one company’s basket.

That is a challenge many agencies have struggled with, let alone an entire network. The advantage that Publicis enjoys is that all the units mentioned here are represented on the Publicis Groupe board, including newbie Beehive. If this board can make it easier (and imperative) to work smoothly with each other, that will make their ambition to be in the top three in India more achievable.

2 Peter Claridge

OCT 23, 2013 #018

issues of the day Micromax sees record levels of social engagement When you think about it, signing a Hollywood star to be the brand ambassador of Micromax doesn’t actually seem that far out. If you watch as much TV as I do, you can’t have failed to notice how much effort Micromax puts in to its adverts in order to make them appear as non-Indian as possible. Young, beautiful, non-Indian actors appear in locations that look like Miami, Malaysia and Australia. Remove the Micromax logo and you’ll be forgiven if you thought you were looking at Samsung’s latest ad. Yet, the Hugh Jackman announcement did send shockwaves around the Twitterverse and, once Facebook caught up with the Twitterati, there was even more widespread disbelief. Infact, when I texted the news to my wife, she immediately replied back with “are you serious?” followed a few seconds later with “don’t want to be a demanding wife, but can I have one too?”. The geek in me did a little summersault that she would be so interested in tech and gadgets, but alas, it turned out she wanted a Hugh Jackman rather than a Micromax Canvas Turbo. Back to the announcement. This is the stuff PR and branding dreams are made of. In the olden days of 5 years ago, such groundbreaking news would require press meetings, hoardings, newspaper articles, interviews - the works. Today, it is a single tweet, a post on Facebook and a video on YouTube. The result is a wider reach than ever before to your target market. Dear old school marketing directors, this is the new world of advertising, please catch up. In a sign of the times, Facebook lagged behind Twitter when it came to breaking the news, but it had far wider reach thanks to its 90m users. Micromax posted the announcement around midday and by early evening there were less than 400 Likes, 130 comments and 70 shares. This was quite surprising because in the last 30 days, Micromax posted 56 times and got an average of 1,150 Likes, 170 comments and 66 shares per post, so how could news about Hugh Jackman becoming the brand ambassador get lower engagement? As I said, it seems that it takes some time for information to really disseminate amongst Facebook users as the weekend turned out to be very good for Micromax’s community engagement. Whether it was the result of some paid promotion or just the fact that it took 24 hours for those behind the bleeding edge of brand news to find out, the post went viral. By Sunday evening, the post had earned over 6,800 Likes, 315 comments and 700 shares. When I checked the post on Monday lunchtime, the number of interactions increased even more to 9,600 Likes, 377 comments and over 900 shares and the numbers increase with every page refresh. With over 900 shares, it’s by far Micromax’s most shared post ever and the user reach will be off the charts. However, it’s surprising that this isn’t Micromax’s most liked post (so far). That accolade goes to a post from June, which talks about the Canvas 4 phone which got over 13,600 likes, most likely as a result of some paid promotion. When it comes to number of comments, the Hugh Jackman post can’t compete with past posts by Micromax. This post, for example, which is a contest asking people to post relevant comments to win a Bolt A67, garnered nearly 8,000 comments. On Twitter, where information is shared, distributed and forgotten about in minutes, the response towards the brand was muted. The initial tweet drew lukewarm engagement, just 19 Retweets, 2 Favorites and 7 replies. Compared

to other tweets, this doesn’t even make the top 15 in terms of engagement. The recent #DashBerlinWithMicromax contest drew over 50 retweets on many Micromax tweets and over 20 replies per tweet. Another recent contest with the hashtag #MicromaxBoltA67, which was tied to the Facebook post with the most comments, also received 25 retweets. That’s not to say people weren’t talking about Micromax on Twitter though. They were doing a lot of talking. On an average day, Micromax gets about 60 people that @mention the brand in a tweet, on Friday, this number shot up to 381, six times higher than normal. The word ‘micromax’ was also trending all day as plenty of people were digesting the news. However, since Twitter has an attention span that would make a goldfish point, laugh (and promptly forget why it was pointing), the number of mentions dropped to 131 and 104 on the following days as people moved on to the next shiny object or contrived hashtag campaign. In a cue to how important (as if we didn’t already know!) this announcement was for the company, the Micromax support team went in to overdrive on Friday and over the weekend, replying to 60 tweets per day. This is interesting because usually the support team takes the weekend off, as seen by the chart below where the days with zero replies are the weekends. That said, the replies by Micromax were all fairly similar in nature and were directed to people that were amazed about the announcement rather than to tweets that were complaints or showed any negativity. Infact, 38% of Micromax’s replies are to positive tweets while just 5% are to negative tweets. Of increasing importance to marketers is YouTube. It’s the place they can get away with uploading longer length, branded content that is created on a much tighter budget than a TVC. In this case, Micromax directed everyone to check out its 11 second teaser ad, in which Hugh Jackman appears for all of three seconds. Blink, and you might miss him. After a good start on Friday with 31,500 views, once news got around (the Facebook effect?) the number of views shot up to 225,000 by the end of the weekend. Currently it’s clocking in at over 333,000 views, 1,200 Likes and 300 comments, which makes it the most successful video Micromax has ever uploaded. By comparison, Micromax averages 23,000 views per video, so Hugh Jackman has already helped them get ten times the number of views. I was really surprised to see Micromax make this announcement on a Friday of all days, but the strategy appears to have paid off. While the company could have leveraged Twitter to a greater extent as it does with its contest, the results on Facebook and YouTube speak for themselves with high engagement and user feedback. The announcement also makes for a fantastic case study for other brands that are looking to go purely digital when it comes to announcing big news. Methodology All data was collected from the Unmetric platform and the date ranged from January to October 2013. Peter is the marketing manager for Unmetric, the company that asks brands if they are social enough. Follow him on Twitter @unmetric or @PeterClaridge

Hugh Jackman seems to have helped Micromax hit the jackpot on social media

OCT 23, 2013 #018

the really long interview


uday shankar


into the fold every year and because of digitisation and rural consumption, spend on subscription is going up. So, I see a meaningful increase, year on year on both advertising and subscription revenues.

Now, you brought up digitisation. Overall, digitisation and broadband, they seem to form a very big part of your sports punt. How do you react to that and what will you do for revenue? Uday First of all, when we talk about digitisation, most of the time, we’re unconsciously only talking about television or cable digitisation. As it is, DTH is also digitisation. It’s digital delivery of signal, which is already huge. 40 to 45 million digital boxes have been sold already, there are more than 30 million active subscribers, and then there’s this cable digitisation. So together it’s already become one of the world’s biggest digital markets. And then, you talk about mobile and internet, which is growing very rapidly. There is not too much of fixed line consumption here, but mobile consumption is very meaningful and we think that’s going to be growing at a very attractive clip. Let’s not forget that all this growth in mobile consumption of content has happened without any strategic and deep involvement or initiative on the content and marketing front. But, as more and more content companies get focused on that, this segment is going to explode.

With the gentleman’s game in its grasp, this week, STAR India turned its attention to the beautiful game. STAR India has picked up a one-third stake in a company jointly owned by Reliance Industries and IMG, that’s set to launch an Indian Premier League style football tournament starting January 2014. STAR is paying Rs 2,000 cr in a deal that includes equity and broadcast rights for 10 years. STAR India CEO Uday Shankar explains why to Storyboard editor Anant Rangaswami. Rough numbers here. Approximately Rs 4,000 cr in cricket from 2012 to 2018. Now another Rs 200 cr or so one hears on football. That’s a lot of money in sports. Why do you think this is right? Uday We believe that sport is on a break-out point. For the longest time it’s been a cricket-only country. But it’s easy to look back today and say that it’s a cricket-only country. If you go back by 10 to 15 years, cricket is as big as it is today in this country, primarily because two broadcasters, STAR Sports and ESPN, who decided to take a leap of faith in cricket. They invested in quality programming and broadcast, built viewership, and made sure that people were available to watch it. So, cricket is this big today. We think that there’s an opportunity of a similar nature with some other sports. Maybe not as big as cricket because cricket is huge and has a head start. But, we see that opportunity in Football. I think it was because of that, that Reliance and IMG came together to give football a leg up. When we started talking, we discovered that both parties shared that dream and we felt that it’s time to get in and give it a good try. So, where do you see the revenues from football coming in from? And at what cost will it come? Who will lose out to this? Uday Nobody will lose out. I think it’s not about losing out. In fact, if anything, at STAR, we believe that cricket should be and would be bigger than what it is today and so would be a few other sports. As you know, we’ve already taken a leap of faith in hockey through ESPN STAR Sports, in badminton and, now, we think football has a lot of potential. As it is, there is meaningful viewership for something like the English Premier League (EPL) which has got nothing to do with India, it’s just a global beam that we take and broadcast. Of course, this year ESPN STAR Sports has been doing some Hindi commentary, which, until now, wasn’t there. But still, football has a meaningful viewership. I don’t think it’s about anyone losing. If I play five years ahead, I think cricket would be way bigger than what it is today and there will be 2-3 big, promising, meaningful sports. Now, there are two streams of money. One is the advertising money and the other is the subscription money. If so much money goes to cricket, football or the sports you’re building, it’s got to be at somebody’s cost, shouldn’t it? In the sense, what happened to IPL, those 45 days, does it takes money away from the GECs? Uday As you know, that didn’t turn out to be the case. There was a lot of apprehension when IPL was coming up, that it will mean reallocation of revenues from the GECs. But that’s not what has happened. The big GECs in this country, since the launch of IPL, have all grown at 15% or plus CAGR, minimum. IPL has grown, and so have the other sports. The country is growing. We keep talking about the slowdown. But, even in the slowdown environment, the country is growing at 5% to 5.5% of GDP. It will continue to grow. The new eight to nine million cable and satellite consumers are coming

Now, you just did this India-Australia (cricket series) package for the Internet at Rs 100 for the whole tournament. What kind of numbers are you seeing from there? Is it meaningful and worth the effort for all of you? Uday It’s definitely meaningful. It is not as good as we would like it to be. There are a couple of teething problems. First and foremost, making a payment is

I have always been a big believer in the power of languages. As the demography of cricket consumers was going down the popular strata, the commentary in English was one big hurdle that existed because 15 years ago, there were many people who were comfortable with English and English commentary who were watching cricket not very easy because it’s a country where credit cards are very few. There are a lot of debit cards but the habit of online transaction is still not very big. Those who are comfortable with it, we see very impressive uptake from them, but, we’re working on that. We never expected it to be an overnight affair. The option to make it free was there, but we felt that we should move the market towards the habit of paying and consuming. We’re seeing the results of that in television entertainment, where some of us, over the early initiatives of pay revenues, have created a benefit ecosystem. We’re doing it here as well. While it’s not making a significant addition to our bottom line yet, the initial experience is very positive. Do you think we’re ready for pay-per-view, as in, pay for this event or a premium high-priced event in India? Uday Our experience of suggests that the country is mentally prepared for it. You have to solve for ease of payment and consistency of delivery. The network quality is very important and that’s why the initiative, whether it is Reliance or the initiative of 4G, etc. is very important. If people get consistent content all around themselves, I think a large number of people are willing to pay and we all underestimate people’s proclivity to pay for content, when and where they want it. Suppose I ask you to give me a number. What is the potential for sports content in India? Uday Over a period of few years, depending on how the Wi-Fi and 4G networks roll out, if some of the roll out promises that we see are maintained, then we’re talking about numbers in multiples of ten million. Which is a huge number! Look, if we see the data of the number of subscribers who are coming in to consume video content, either on mobile or other hand-held devices, that number is already very big. We’re talking about 30 to 35 million people who are regularly coming. If you also look at the whole VAS market, even as of now, when no sincere, strategic attempt has been made to develop content, uniquely for smaller screens, the economics of that is very impressive. We’re talking about already

more than Rs. 2,000 to 2,500 crore of VAS market. So, if that grows and particularly, if the entire 4G, Wi-Fi delivery system delivers on the promise that it is holding, then we’re talking about a very big market. We’re talking about 40 to 50 million steady, regular, daily consumers on digital screens. In revenue terms, that number could be several thousand crore rupees. You’ve spoken about hockey, football and cricket. What else are we going to see coming from here? Because that’s still not part of your vision to have a boom in content in sports. Uday Why would you say that? We are very keen to make domestic cricket big. We have the rights for India’s domestic cricket, Ranji Trophy and all other tournaments. We are involved with university cricket championships. So we think that it will take us some time but we think domestic cricket, in the relevant markets, can be very substantial. Between things like football, hockey and badminton, it’s a very rich portfolio. How was your badminton (the Indian Badminton League) experience this year? Uday We were surprised. We thought that it would be much smaller but we were pleasantly surprised by it. And, what is the experience with the Hindi commentary? Uday Our Hindi commentary has been an unmitigated joy. I have always been a big believer in the power of languages. As the demography of cricket consumers was going down the popular strata, the commentary in English was one big hurdle that existed because 15 years ago, there were many people who were comfortable with English and English commentary who were watching cricket. Today, that demography has changed dramatically, and we were doing very little to make the engagement deeper through the audio track. A few experiments that were undertaken were, at best, half hearted. The quality of commentators was not good. The people who were doing the commentary, even if they did a good job, they didn’t have the same equity as a big ex-cricketer doing commentary in English. So, we decided to change that. We went and got people like Saurav Ganguly, Kapil Dev, Navjot Singh Sindhu, Ramiz Raja, Wasim Akram, players whose authority was unquestionable. They had very high credibility among the Hindi viewers and that has really worked. The time spent is significantly higher, the reach has been helped and people are coming in for specific commentators. Are we going to see more languages? Uday That’s what we would like to do, ideally. It depends on how soon we can do that. But yes, our desire is to get a couple more languages. What was the need for the Star World HD Premiere channel? People who were watching that kind of content were happy watching it two to three months later… Uday First and foremost, they were not watching it two to three months later. They were watching it several months later. Sometimes, when a new season began in the US, the old season was (still) going on here. So, we’ve got to appreciate that the audience that consumes this kind of content (Hollywood drama), they are increasingly, globally connected. There’s a conversation that goes around on Facebook and Twitter and they were feeling increasingly disconnected. It was doing two things. Firstly, some of them actually travel a lot. So, they would watch something elsewhere and come back and realise that history was still playing out here. So, there was frustration on account of that and it impacted the engagement. The second thing was that it was a clear setup for accelerating piracy because, you watch it there and the minute the show was premiered or an episode went on air in the US, you could go to one of those torrent sites and just start watching it. We were struggling because of it. There was this perception that English movies work in India but English drama doesn’t work in India. When we did our internal research, we realised that these were the challenges. So, we felt that there was an audience that was willing to pay premium, and for them it’s important that they are treated at par with the best in the world. That’s the premise of the channel. We’ve decided to offer the best content that’s available, only if you have access to all the top American broadcast networks because it is the best of selection from the top Hollywood studios. So, in one shot, pirated content in India has become irrelevant or the attractiveness has gone down because the subscription is sixty to seventy rupees per month. That’s really not much for the people who enjoy this content. Are you happy with the revenues you’ve seen in the recent launch? Uday It’s really early but we’ve been blown away by the way it’s taken off. The ‘premium plus’ segment is totally gung-ho about it. When I talk to senior people in the corporate sector, youngsters with very affluent backgrounds; there is huge appreciation for what we’re doing and the fact that it is happening outside of the US (day and date content for American drama is available only in India as of now) is a huge positioning statement.


OCT 23, 2013 #018

the back of the book

Imagine, a movie trailer that gives a $100 million return “What if telekinesis was real? How would you react? Our hidden camera experiment captures the reactions of unsuspecting customers at a New York City coffee shop as they witness a telekinetic event,” says the description of the film on YouTube. Click on the image to watch the TVC and you get an idea of how other people reacted. And what is this elaborate production for, you ask? For the promotion of a movie, as a trailer. “A trip to the coffee shop can bring out your inner demon. Patrons at 'Snice Cafe in

New York City's West Village learned that scary truth as part of an elaborate prank. Twisted jokesters rigged tables and books to move by remote control, making it appear as though a possessed woman, who was angry over spilled coffee, had telekinetic powers. The crew even constructed a fake wall and pulley system to create the illusion of a customer flying up into the air. The people behind the adaptation of the classic horror film "Carrie" staged the prank as promotion for the movie, which debuts in theaters Oct. 18,” says

So much expense on something as a trailer must have raised eyebrows and questions on RoI on the investments made. How many views would this video have got, you wonder? As of now, it’s got almost 38 million views on YouTube. That’s 38 million people who know of Carrie, the movie. That’s 38 million people who have a fair idea of what to expect from the movie. It intrigued me enough to find out more about Carrie. “A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom,” says IMDB. “If you’ve got a taste for terror,” the movie’s poster says. After watching the trailer, you would not only know the answer to that, you would also know if you want to see the film. By the time the movie released, the number of people who would have seen the trailer, if the momentum continued, could be well in excess of 100 million. And if even 10 percent of those who see this end up seeing the film, paying $10 each, the return on investment from this trailer would be – hold your breath – as much as $100 million. Welcome to the world of film marketing!

Nothing to say except that we badly need a campaign like this in India. Who is going to create one? Ogilvy, are you listening?

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Publicis Groupe acquires Beehive Communications; Storyboard editor Anant Rangaswami tells us why brand Amul should be ashamed of itself; how...