With the launch of its retail and shopper marketing agency, Integer and the acquisition of Indian digital agency Magnon, last year, TBWA has finally been able to give the much-needed push to its business in India. Though the agency network of the $3637-million advertising and marketing communications services conglomerate Omnicom Group has been in India for around 13 years, its growth has been rather slow, and only in the last two years has the growth story for the network gained some momentum.
In a conversation with FE BrandWagon's Anushree Bhattacharyya, Keith Smith, president – International, TBWA Group, talks about how the agency is gearing up to wage a full-scale creative war against other conglomerates such as WPP and Publicis Groupe in India. Edited excerpts:
How was last year for TBWA?
2012 was very good for TBWA financially. We had significant growth in 2012 and our margins got even better. The other step that we had taken last year is that we had replicated the integrated market philosophy which has worked for us so well in developed markets such as France or developing markets such as China. In order to live the philosophy, you need to have four or five communication arrows in your bow which includes advertising, digital, retail and activation and we now have more or less all the components in place.
TBWA is a big brand globally, but in India it is yet to make much noise. Why?
It is true that we (Omnicom Group) are not as big as WPP, but WPP has been here in India forever. TBWA has been here for effectively 12-13 years. India is a tough market and it takes time to establish your credentials. WPP had it its own way for a long time and when you look at Publicis Groupe, I am not sure constant acquisition is the answer. If you, as a group, are looking at an acquisition, then you need to look for like-minded people to understand how to disrupt the market. That is the key and that is why we spent the last five years talking to digital people as well as other agencies before we finally zeroed on Magnon. Also, what has helped us to grow in the last two years is that we have a very big set of international clients such as Nissan, Adidas, Samsonite and American Tourister. We recently unveiled the Datsun in India, which is yet