It has been India’s misfortune that no world-class creative agency network has come out of the country. While international networks such as WPP, Publicis, Dentsu, Havas and IPG Mediabrands flourish, the homegrown agencies either end up being a single-shop operation or are acquired by the large global networks.
Now with the Prime Minister’s vision for taking local companies global and more reliance on indigenous industries, can India’s advertising ecosystem benefit from it as more brands would now be focusing on more local and nationalistic communication?
According to industry leaders, the new narrative to go local will surely change the communication and narratives for brands.
Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner, Enormous Brands, said there will be a demand for Indian services for Government communication. “One area where local agencies might benefit is where Government spending is concerned with communication. That’s a place where Indian agencies might benefit. The Government can make sure that advertising for themselves is through Indian agencies,” he said.
According to Raj Kamble, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, at Famous Innovations, priority should be given to Indian agencies if they fulfil the expectations of the client. “Brands must go where the talent is; they should not choose it merely because it’s local. I think there are many good Indian companies that are talented but they need to find them. Indian entrepreneurs should help another entrepreneur to grow together and invest in our own country,” he said.
Some, however, argue that in advertising, it doesn’t matter whether you are a global company or Indian, what matters is how your creativity connects with a larger population.
Foreign or local, the creative mind is Desi
The best of India’s ad campaigns have come from international networks. “Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Joshi do not work for home-grown agencies. But when it comes to creativity, nobody comes closer in doing Indian culture-focused campaigns than these two. In advertising, it doesn’t matter what’s the origin of the agency. What matters is the creative mind,” an industry expert said.
Experts suggest the offerings and the talent is what matters to the brands and there is no sentiment involved in it. The demand for local agencies has been on a rise from quite long, however the PM’s appeal might give it a boost. “Brands don’t look at things such as global or local; they look at the portfolio and take decisions. Essentially whatever people are doing is for the Indian market, Indian audience and Indian languages,” said Satbir Singh, Founder and CCO, Thinkstr.
According to Nisha Singhania, Co-founder and Director, Infectious Advertising, not only local brands but global players are also opting for local solutions in recent times. “At the end of the day, it is the talent and work that matters. I don’t think they are as hung-up on working with global partners. I don’t think it is just about what PM Narendra Modi said. In general people are looking to work with independent agencies. We have been an independent agency for the last seven years and since the last 2-3 years, we have seen the market really open up,” she said.
“While the companies might be international and profits move internationally, they are the taxpaying corporate citizens of the country. They are also employing local Indian talent and I don't think this theme will start to come to using localised agencies as advertising is one of the fields where the cultural context and insights become so much more important,” said Pratik Gupta, Co-Founder Zoo Media and FoxyMoron.
The Prime Minister’s appeal for going local will surely boost the morale of homegrown brands and the communication is set to alter respectively. According to Gupta, the local theme will be adopted by most brands. “I will see a lot more brands wanting to proudly talk about this. At Foxy, we worked with the ‘Make in India’ campaign for three years, where we saw a lot of companies becoming proud of the fact that they're Indian and they carried the make in India logo. It's not a campaign yet, but knowing how the PM works, it will translate into a campaign. It is a theme that most brands would want to pick up for certain,” he said.