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Commentary: Why will Maxus live exclusively for India?

While GroupM is gearing up for the merger of MEC and Maxus globally, let’s look at the reasons why brand ‘Maxus’ is so important for the company in India

As the advertising industry across the world talks about the merger of MEC and Maxus, GroupM has maintained right from Day 1 that ‘Maxus will continue to operate as an agency brand in India with the support of the newly formed global agency as well as the GroupM network’.

The new agency, temporarily referred to as NewCo, will soon be announced and it will also have an existence in India. While there will be shifting of resources and clients, along with infrastructural and operational changes in India too, why is the brand ‘Maxus’ so important for the company in India?

A lot of people in and out of GroupM, the media investment group, said that brands, clients and the industry have a close association with Maxus as a brand and possibly the company doesn’t want to kill that affinity.

Since the clients look at the agency as an outfit that gets their work done and does not care much about the brand, the merger may not impact the businesses globally. As is known, India has panned out as a different market for Maxus, in this sense. For those who have worked hard to nurture Maxus as a brand in India, it is a proof of the pudding that it is so strong as a brand that it is not easy to take it out.

People associated with Maxus for long feel that there are clients and brands that have very close association with the agency and hence it will remain alive for some time. A senior official explained that a 10-year plan, culture and management team that leads from the front are the reasons behind Maxus being such a strong brand in India.

“The ability to go beyond traditional media, to go into digital full services, experiential, OOH, web services, activations, creative, technology, social command centre, marketing command centre, CRM and media creative are the main drivers of growth for Maxus. Sometimes when the organic growth is 10-11 per cent, our diversified services grow at 30-50 per cent while the overall growth rate continues to be at 25-30 per cent CAGR. So Maxus continued outpacing industry growth rate,” said another senior official at Maxus.

So, will Maxus India remain as is for the rest of the time or is it just that the India market will take a longer time for the transition and eventually everything will get aligned to the global set-up? Agency insiders believe that a few years down the line, Maxus India too will cease to exist and NewCo will have the same structure in India as in the rest of the world.

Can this theory be the truth of tomorrow? Why I see this happening is that ultimately advertising – both creative and media planning – is a people’s business. It is heavily a people’s business. Whatever the name of the company under which you service a client, the marketer is only concerned about the people who do the job and how well do they do it.

One of the three biggest clients of the agency in five global markets – NBC Universal has already undergone the shift from Maxus to the NewCo. If we have to really compare the size of the businesses and the way they are structured to fit in the priority bracket of the agency, no India client will be close to the NBC Universal.

So then, ‘What’s in the name, my friend?’ If Maxus changes to something else, but the teams working under the new name are the same, why should it matter?

As for the expertise of the agency and the services that it has been providing, yes, it has been one of the top agencies, but I don’t see a reason why that should change with the name.

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