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FCB India eyes 25% revenue from digital by 2019

Rohit Ohri of FCB India elaborates on how the agency overcame challenges to reach the top. In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, the Group Chairman & CEO talks about retaining talent, shrinking margins and turning the agency into a winning machine.

Claiming 100% year-on-year growth for its Delhi office and an overall growth rate above the industry average, global advertising agency network FCB India is now eyeing to double the contribution of digital to its overall revenue in 2019.

“Currently, digital contributes less than 13% to our overall revenue. Our ambition is to take it to 25% by the end of 2019,” Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & CEO, FCB India, told BestMediaInfo.com.

While existing clients such as Tata Motors and Horlicks witnessed a remarkable turnaround this year and propelled the agency’s growth, it won as many as 25 new businesses, including Tata AIA, Vistara, Piramal Realty, Emami, Bisleri, RBI, Apollo Hospitals to name a few.

Rohit Ohri

Talking about the key to this winning momentum, Ohri said, “If you win, you create a winning machine that attracts more wins. It creates a belief system in the agency and gets people charged up and excited about winning. Success in any organisation is dictated by its momentum.”

The ride to the top, however, has not been smooth as the agency too is facing the growing challenges prevalent in the entire advertising industry. Acknowledging the fact that agencies are struggling harder to attract and retain talent today than ever before, Ohri said retaining talent and attracting new ones is one of the biggest challenges.

The agency’s win at global platforms for its #NoConditionsApply campaign for Calcutta Times has helped it attract new businesses and talent. This was the first time in the agency’s history in 65 years that it won at Cannes, Clio and D&AD awards.

“The important aspect of this success is that it creates a belief within the agency, which further encourages its people to produce more and more quality work. That itself is a huge reward of winning. It has made FCB an attractive place to work with. We have got calls from the best creative talents in India who are interested in working with us,” he said.

Shrinking margins is another big challenge in front of the industry. However, Ohri does not put entire blame on clients but expects them not to treat agencies as vendors.

“This is a two-way issue for both agencies and clients. I don’t think agencies are able to position themselves in a way that they are fairly compensated and the clients are also driving the compensation down through the  procurement department. They miss the point that they are not procuring raw materials but ideas which are intangible. That is something that needs to be measured in a different way. This has become a sort of push and pull,” he explained.

The huge number of pitches increasingly being called by clients is the third big challenge the advertising industry is facing these days. For many clients, it is an easy way to get the best brains from the industry to give them ideas, which they don’t have to pay for.

Talking about how can agencies tackle this issue, Ohri said, “That to my mind is one of the biggest issues the industry is facing because we are giving away our product for free. If we are giving away our products for free, then we can’t actually complain about the under-compensation. Agencies should come together to make rules of engagement and pitching and the regulations for fair compensation.”

At a time when clients are rapidly changing hands following frequent pitches, retaining clients for a long time has become another challenging task for agencies. However, known for its healthy client-agency relationship, FCB India’s top-10 clients have been with it for over two or three decades.

Talking about the art of retaining clients, Ohri said, “It is about treating the business as your own and being proactive and not taking the relationship for granted. The fundamental reason why clients move on is the feeling of their business and relationship being taken for granted. The agencies are not always trying better ways to do the job. If an agency puts this in place as a protocol, then it doesn’t have to worry about losing clients.”

Organic growth, digital and content capabilities are the key pillars on which the agency is building its growth, says Ohri. “When big clients grow, we grow with them. Additionally, we have scaled up our digital offering to our clients by investing enormously in skilled capabilities and technology. Recently, we brought Fuel Content, an end-to end content provider for brands, to India. There will be new business, which is a consistent focus for us. The agency has a lot of momentum right now and that is driving us to do a lot of good work.”

Quality creative work is one of the big goals set by Ohri for the agency. “The idea is that since we had a fantastic year, we need to repeat this performance for at least two or three years to actually deliver the complete creative transformation of the agency. The other big goal is to find new revenues, new ways to actually engage with our customers. As we increase our capabilities, we can increase our ambition as well,” he said.


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