For the DDB Mudra Group, 2021 has been great from the recovery point of view. Although the second wave in the second quarter was a dampener, the markets recovered as the economy opened up and they managed to regain momentum.
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Anurag Bansal, COO and CFO, DDB Mudra Group, said the business and revenue in particular was in line with what they had envisaged at the beginning of the year. He stated that it would be premature to say the recovery seen in 2021 is here to stay, especially with the threat of new variant looming, but they are very close to reaching pre-Covid levels of business in 2022.
“The pandemic has taught us several lessons especially on cost management, ways of working, and risk mitigation. Our focus in 2022 will continue to be on providing best-in-class integrated business solutions to our clients,” Bansal said.
The pandemic dramatically pushed the growth of digital mediums and this is largely where advertisers continued investing throughout the two waves. Speaking about how the digital acceleration has impacted them, Bansal stated the kind of digitalization witnessed in the last 18 months has been unprecedented. “Our ways of working, ways in which we consume content and entertainment, how we transact and run our lives changed dramatically overnight.”
“Communication is increasingly becoming media-agnostic, and the growth has to be seen in that light. With the economy coming out of the pandemic phase and the explosion in demand, our expectation of growth in 2022 is in line with the market dynamics. If the recovery continues without any interruptions from more variants of Covid-19, we expect growth of 35% in 2022,” Bansal said.
Apart from their roaster of clients looking for digital transformation across sectors like tech, start-ups, and traditional businesses, the agency will focus on data and digital-driven integrated business solutions in 2022. They will also expand offerings in specialist niche areas like gaming, healthcare, B2B, and social entrepreneurship.
According to Bansal, today’s consumers don’t want brands that just sell products, rather they look to invest in a story and a belief that aligns with their own. This is an opportunity for agencies to use creativity and tell a story that drives change and helps the client’s business at the same time. Citing the example of their campaign for Stayfree on Daughter’s Day ‘#ItsJustAPeriod’, Bansal said it was the biggest purpose-led campaign that they had worked on in 2021.
In the last two years the advertising industry has seen talent shuffles at agencies from senior to mid-level positions. It is inevitable for business and functional disruptions to follow in this scenario. Speaking about this issue, Bansal explained that the industry has always seen attrition in the range of 20%, but this time it has gone beyond 35%.
The pandemic has changed priorities and people are today prioritizing personal aspirations, mental health, and work-life balance. This has led to ‘The Great Resignation’.
“We also must acknowledge that the competition for talent has changed now. Earlier, the competition was mainly between agencies but now there are several brands and well-funded start-ups that offer great compensations and attractive perks to talented individuals from agency backgrounds. This calls for a complete rehaul of the employee experience across their various life stages with a holistic approach that includes fair compensation,” he stated.
To tackle this, DDB Group has been focusing on upskilling the talents through projects like ‘The Phyllis India Project’ which focuses on developing a pool of women leaders. They are also training all employees through DDB Next, and helping nurture talent in the company through programs like ‘Emerging Talent’ and ‘The High Performance’.
Asked whether the Omicron situation is impacting the sentiments of the industry, he said the impact of the new variant on business and people has not been felt yet. A lot of it also depends on how the risk is mitigated and neutralized.
“We at the company are monitoring on-ground developments, listening to experts, and are prepared. We have rolled out a hybrid, safe-to-return working model with government prescribed protocols being followed to ensure employees’ health and safety,” he added.