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We aim to grow by 30% YoY in 2024: FCB Kinnect's Rohan Mehta

In his interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Rohan Mehta, CEO, FCB Kinnect and FCB/SIX India, shared his views on how the agency's first year fared after the network agency acquired a majority stake in the digital agency, the opportunities and challenges it faced in 2023, the vision for 2024 and more

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Shreya Negi
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We aim to grow by 30% YoY in 2024: FCB Kinnect's Rohan Mehta

Rohan Mehta

Launched in 2011 by the duo of Rohan Mehta and Chandni Shah, Kinnect’s association with FCB Group India first began in the year 2020 as the Network agency began partnering informally with Kinnect. A year later, the IPG-owned agency not only bought a stake in the digital agency, but it was in 2023 that it became the majority stakeholder in Kinnect, leading to the rechristening of the agency as FCB Kinnect along with the launch of FCB/SIX India.

Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com about how the year has fared for the agency so far, Mehta, who currently serves as the CEO of FCB Kinnect and FCB/SIX India, stated that, having become a part of the network agency, the digital agency has undergone a slew of changes including the element of precision and specificity kicking in as part of becoming a part of the Network agency.

“Today clients’ view of an independent versus a network agency is on a level playing field and therefore being a part of the IPG-owned agency hasn’t changed the pricing game for us as the same is majorly dependent on the quality of work that we are doing out there and then basis that, we often command a premium and that has remained consistent,” he said.

With this, he also mentioned that since a lot of the relationships at FCB Group India have been there for several decades, what has changed the game for FCB Kinnect is that today, instead of going bottom-to-top in terms of meeting the Brand Manager first, followed by Senior Brand Manager and then the Chief Marketing Officer and so on, the meeting directly happens with a CEO or CMO, giving way to a much larger conversation opening up almost immediately.

Mehta also emphasised that this time around, the start of the year was quite slow as two of the agency’s clients Amazon and Google stood impacted by the global headwinds and therefore the first half of 2023 wasn’t the best one, but in the past couple of months, the agency did add the accounts of Lenovo and Tata Motors EV amongst others to its kitty of AORs resulting in significant growth in Q3 and Q4 of FY24.

That being said, it was in June 2023 that FCB Kinnect won the Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for its work on the SOS Children's Project. Commenting on whether the coming home of a Silver Lion has had an impact on the relationships FCB Kinnect shares with its clients, he mentioned that the fact that the agency is doing work that has not only been recognised by audiences but has also received recognition on a global stage goes a long way to build the reputation of the agency.

“I think clients also view it positively and therefore they do give it a certain amount of importance. But the proof of the pudding always is in the agency’s true mettle which is its ability to get products flying off shelves for agencies like us are here as growth partners to our clients. While awards are what is being celebrated, the meat of what matters to a client is your ability to help them generate either sales or more brand influence. But yes, the awards do serve as a proxy for the quality of work that you can put out and win on this kind of international stage, especially for an agency which is 12 years old and the fact that only one or two digital agencies have ever won at Cannes Lions, it showcases a lot of maturity and depth in the kind of work that we do,” he said.

During the interaction, Mehta also emphasised that while Bombay is the home ground for Kinnectors, what happened in 2023 is that the agency grew radially as well with FCB Kinnect’s Bangalore and Gurgaon offices growing significantly not just in terms of the work they produce, but also from a team size POV.

“I have always been against this idea of satellite offices and focusing on just being present for the sake of it. Instead, we want to have significance in everything that we do and we hold ourselves to a very high bar of quality in everything that we do each day. Apart from Bombay, our home ground, we have a hundred people sitting out of Gurgaon and then another 70 people sitting out of Bangalore,” he said.

He then went on to add that FCB Kinnect’s offices in Gurgaon and Bangalore together contribute to about 42% of the overall business and that clients like Amazon, which is FCB Kinnect’s biggest client at the moment, are serviced out of the Gurgaon office, Intel and TVS are serviced out of Bangalore whereas Google is cumulatively handled by the Bombay and Gurgaon team.

Also, what was new about this year for the agency was that it began servicing international clients and also supporting the various FCB Group’s offices across the world from India by creating a Centre of Excellence in India, through which FCB Kinnect got its first international client, ZF Aftermarket, a German Fortune 300 client, in March this year.

“I believe that India is going to be the epicentre of the marketing and advertising industry, just like it has become for the IT industry. We’re all going to see this happening in the next 10 years as the Indian market is slotted to grow extremely significantly. It is going to become the primary place which is going to work with other countries across the world because we have the largest English-speaking population in the world and our technology and maturity on the digital platforms is at par with Western countries like the USA or even Europe. Many times I find that some of the initiatives we undertake locally are ahead of those in Western markets,” he opined.

Upon being asked to share his analysis on the evolution of digital advertising in 2023, Mehta highlighted that while digital is something that has tailwinds, it is also something that will keep growing substantially as the opportunities associated with the same are immense.

In his opinion, what happened during the pandemic was that leading companies assumed that Digital as a medium had become the holy grail as during covid, there wasn’t any medium apart from digital which was growing as significantly, but what neither of them realised is that the pace at which digital was growing or was expected to grow in the aftermath of the pandemic would eventually slow down in the post-pandemic world. It was owing to this very fact that the Facebook, Amazon and Google of the world had to let go of their people as they had hired more than what was required during the pandemic.

“There's always a peak of heightened expectations followed by a trough of disillusionment, and that is the hype cycle that goes on. Case in point being, the pandemic was the peak of hype and expectations of digital, and then Q4FY23 and Q1FY24 were the troughs of disillusionment, but now I think that the growth trajectory will be very normalised and continuous because many new opportunities are coming in,” he said.

In the past year, it was CRM which grew significantly in his experience as clients focussed on their first-party data, customer attention and customer delight. As the needs of the market shifted to focus on data, consumer journeys and customer experience this year, the timing of the launch of FCB/SIX, which is all about building timeless brands and timely commerce, was just perfect for the IPG-owned agency as the market needed just the right solutions which the agency was poised to deliver.

“With AI coming in, it has become a fertile territory for all of us to do innovations and that too on different social media and digital platforms. I believe that how Google search revolutionised our generation, AI is going to be the next revolution. Having said that, people's expectations of what AI will do and at what pace have made us also realise that we need to embrace it the same way we did Photoshop when everything was happening in Paint and use it as a significant competitive advantage for us as an agency,” he said.

Furthermore, he also pointed out that the trends he foresees gaining more momentum and gravitas in 2024 include omnichannel advertising as the lines between mainline and digital just keep blurring and therefore one needs to think cross platforms with the consumer at the centre of the universe.

He also thinks that in 2024, what will also happen is brands will invest big in long-term brand building, creating brand platforms, and even on the media side, to capture the top of the funnel and in turn drive the bottom of the funnel via performance marketing as the same has been used to address the latent need of something. But with tools and technologies, the same has become saturated and therefore further investment into the bottom half of the funnel doesn't lead to further outcomes.

As per Mehta, India’s population of 1.4 billion people is a very big opportunity when it comes to data, something that is required by all organisations, but because digital advertising hasn't been very expensive in the past, it is slowly becoming relatively more expensive now and therefore it is tougher to target that individual. People focus on their first-party data and reaching out to it, utilising it, breaking it into cohorts and then creating brand loyalty, brand love through that, that's going to go up significantly more.

“Since we look at things from a calendar year perspective, I believe that our performance in the second half of 2023 has created a strong base for 2024 and therefore the expectation is to clock in at least 30% YoY growth in the company’s revenue. Secondly, there is a large focus on growing deeper and wider with the current clients that we have between FCB Group and us and make them aware of all of our capabilities and partner with them across a much wider spectrum,” he said.

In addition, Mehta also said, “We are also looking forward to building on Kinect EDGE, an internal learning and development platform which stands for Enhanced Development and Growth Ecosystem, which not only keeps us ahead of others but acts as a cornerstone in Kinnect's growth. We also envision having a massive impact on the FCB Group, both in India and across the globe, by being the most significant contributor to the mix.”

Commenting on whether the agency also plans to make significant additions to its talent and workforce in 2024, Mehta stated that in the next three months, the idea is to hire 60 more people and these are not going to be just replacement hires, but actual additions to FCB Kinnect’s workforce.

“It's a pyramid at any point of time there will be few senior hires, some more mid-level hires and a lot of junior hires so it's across the board as of now it's not one significant place that we are looking at,” he said.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

performance acquisition AI Cannes Lions omnichannel advertising CRM Centre of Excellence international clients vision opportunities FCB Group digital agency Rohan Mehta IPG-owned agency agency growth FCB Kinnect challenges brand building
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