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Admire brands for taking a stand: Subhash Kamath of BBH & Publicis Worldwide, India

Kamath talks to BestMediaInfo.com about how 2020 crisis will shape up his agency and communication business in 2021

Subhash Kamath

Some news channels have lost all credibility as they continue to be distasteful, dishonest and disgusting, said Subhash Kamath, CEO of BBH and Publicis Worldwide, India.

Speaking on the ongoing debate over hate speech and toxic content on news channels, Kamath told BestMediaInfo.com, “I’ve personally stopped watching television news as I find many of them to be distasteful, dishonest and disgusting. They’ve lost all credibility, as far as I’m concerned. Either they don’t even realise the damage they’re doing to society or they simply don’t care. I do hope they go back to responsible and truthful journalism soon."

Kamath said he hoped that pressure from brands, which want to boycott advertising on such channels, might be able to have a desired effect on the overlap ecosystem. 

"I truly admire the brands that have taken the stand and hope it has the desired effect,” he said.

Strong growth expectations from 2021

Talking about the growth strategy for BBH and Publicis, he said, "We have growth plans for both agencies, but I’d say they’re pragmatic."

As the country comes out of the pandemic, more clients are going to be focusing on catching up on lost growth, and that’s where we need to partner with them with a more solutions-based approach, not just advertising or just digital, etc, he said. It’s got to be a more integrated strategy and that’s what BBH-PWW will focus in 2021, he said.

According to Kamath, apart from a solutions-based approach, advantages of special capabilities within the Publicis Groupe through the Power of One platform will help in achieving the growth.

He said both BBH and PWW have focused all their energies behind delivering swift and effective Covid-19 response for clients.

Business recovery for BBH-PWW was relatively subdued than usual times. But Kamath said there has been a ‘lift’ in certain categories. “I’m feeling more optimistic now than I was in June-July.”

Kamath said the time to have separate traditional creative agencies and digital/social agencies is gone. Clients are seeking solutions, not just individual pieces of output. So the talent in an agency needs to find those solutions in a composite mix: from traditional advertising, digital and social, content, commerce, etc.  The team needs to be ‘hybrid’ in that sense. Being hybrid includes strong partnerships with good specialists and platforms.

As people now prefer a ‘platform world’, it has become critical for brands to find a seamless voice as they navigate these various platforms. Kamath said content will be king in this scenario. “Different agencies would be at different stages of understanding, but if I were to generalise, I’d say all of us are riding the learning curve on this one. And I find it really, really exciting. To quote a friend of mine, “‘You don’t need digital ideas. You need ideas for a digital world’. To me, that sums it up beautifully,” Kamath said.

While BBH is now fully integrated into Publicis Groupe India, the two agencies BBH and Publicis Worldwide continue to operate as two separate brands, albeit under a shared leadership.

“From a business point of view, our revenues have been down. It’s best to forget 2020 and look confidently forward,” Kamath said.


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