Business Today

Indian advertising's global march

Indian ad agencies are now pitching for, and winning, mandates from MNCs for creating ads for foreign markets.

By Anusha Subramanian | Print Edition: August 26, 2007

Indian ad agencies are carving out a niche for themselves in the global arena. Of the 8,200 creatives from 116 countries on, 768 are from India. "Currently, India represents 9 per cent of the total 8,200 creatives up on After the UK, Indians are the strongest national group on followed by Argentina and Romania. This indicates that Indian creative talent is getting far more recognition globally than it used to a decade ago," says Nina Dinjaski, Business Development Manager,, which allows clients to seek pitches for their business on the internet from the ad fraternity worldwide.

Speaking to Business Today, Rakesh Raghuvanshi, Managing Director, Live 1, says: "It comes as no surprise that Indian agencies are coming up with such versatile creative ideas for varied needs.

I believe this comes from our multicultural, ethnic and modern society." Initially, the Gillette Fusion pitch, won by Live 1 on, was only for the Puerto Rico market, but now, it has also been licensed for the larger us market.

Recently, in a multi-agency pitch held in Singapore in June 2007, Publicis India has been assigned the regional assignment for the Aviva brand campaign in Asia. Based on Publicis India's relationship with Aviva India, it was invited for the pitch for the regional brand campaign development and rollout across India, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and won the business in a multi-agency pitch.

The other agencies included were McCann-Erickson, BBDO and M&C Saatchi. The assignment is primarily to enhance awareness of Aviva across these four markets and to make sure that the brand has a uniform and relevant meaning across the region.

O&M India is also understood to be pitching for some global work and looking to participate in international pitches. However, there is no confirmation on this aspect from the O&M India executives.

Further, more ads conceptualised and developed here by large agencies like O&M India, Lowe India, FCB Ulka and McCann-Erickson India, to name a few, are also being adapted in the West (see Created In India, Viewed Worldwide).

So, can we say that Indian advertising has come of age globally? Prasoon Joshi, Executive Chairman and Regional Creative Director, South & South East Asia, McCann Worldgroup, says: "There are various ways of looking at this. At one level, which I consider the most important, Indian creativity is being acknowledged. We are witnessing increasing instances of perspectives, ideation and creative development out of India and being used in various European nations."

For Intel's worldwide pitch for a multi-media campaign-McCann-Erickson's India office played a key role in not just strategy and creative development but in the presentation that was made by Joshi himself. Final outcome: McCann won the pitch. Similarly, McCann-Erickson India played a major role in Unilever's Kwality Wall's campaign for the worldwide market.

Pranesh Misra
CEO/ Lowe India:
"If a global brand is available across 15 markets, clients prefer one universal creative that can travel across markets"

Explains M.G. Parmeswaran, Executive Director & CEO, FCB Ulka: "The world is looking at India differently; and with India becoming a focus market for more and more clients, agency networks are discovering the jewels they have in their Indian affiliates and subsidiaries."

According to Nakul Chopra, CEO, Publicis India, while both quality and value play significant roles in the equation, the real reason lies elsewhere. He says: "A global campaign will naturally be biased in favour of the 5-10 top markets for any brand. It will then be these markets that set the strategic and creative direction for ad campaigns supporting that brand. Since India is now among the top 5-10 markets for virtually all global brands, this naturally influences the choice of the agencies." The fact that India has a very well developed talent pool makes it very lucrative to actually source major parts of the work from the country.

Adds Pranesh Misra, CEO, Lowe India: "Most multinational clients are looking to centralise creative development. If a global brand is available across 15 markets, clients prefer one universal creative that can travel across markets rather than separate creatives done for each market. India is being looked at largely as a centralised hub by most clients as the quality of work here has improved a great deal."

Pranesh Misra
Lowe Worldwide recently announced its plans of setting up a 24-hour studio in India to create multi-media creative solutions for its clients across the world. "Indian talent is being recognised across the world and this studio will allow us to make utmost use of the talent pool here," says Stephen Gatfield, EVP of Network Operations and CEO, Lowe Worldwide.

Lenovo Group has moved worldwide marketing services, such as creative development, to a new hub in Bangalore in collaboration with advertising and marketing communications firm Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. The new centre offers these services to all of Lenovo's operations outside China. The India team at O&M will dream up global marketing campaigns aimed at dozens of countries, including the US, France and Brazil, though not China.

On a winning streak: The Surf Excel ad (top), created by Lowe India, was recreated for Indonesia using local models

Created in India, viewed worldwide

The following campaigns that have been adapted globally.

  • O&M's famous Centre Shock chewing gum ad for Italian confectionery giant Perfetti's was made for India. The concept was successfully used in Italy, China, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Russia.

  • Happy Dent, made by McCann-Erickson India, has travelled to the US and the UK.

  • McCann India's famous Coke (featuring Aamir Khan) campaigns have been adapted for the Chinese and Indonesian markets.

  • Lowe's campaigns like Surf Excel, Lifebouy Little Gandhi and Clinic All Clear have been deployed in markets like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and China.

  • FCB Ulka's campaign for Chewits by Parry's Confectioneries was adapted and run in several European countries.

  • FCB Ulka's Compaq campaign was adapted and run in markets like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Speaking to Business Today from Bangalore, Rahul Agarwal, Vice President, Marketing, Lenovo India, explains why it decided on having a centralised hub there: "We are a new brand and need to build a consistent identity. Secondly, we have one of the strongest marketing teams in India and a good creative one as well. We have experience in India of building consumer brands from scratch. By setting up the global hub here, we will now leverage the marketing talent available in India."

Prasoon Joshi
Executive Chairman/McCann Worldgroup:
"We are witnessing increasing instances of perspectives, ideation and creative development out of India. Work that is coming out of India is being used in various European nations"
Does cost play a major factor? Most agency heads say quality is what the international companies are looking for. In any case, costs in India are comparable to those in any other South East Asian country. In several cases, the ideation and conceptualisation is done in India while the production is done in the target country; so, in several cases, it is actually even more expensive than before. But clients obviously attach a lot of value to Indian creative talent.

Then, it's not just home-grown creative ideas and insights that have found their way to distant shores. Even in the so-called backroom area of media planning, Indian ideas-especially in the field of qualitative media research tools, CRM, data analytics and rural marketing-are being noticed, appreciated and adapted. Media agencies like Lintas India's IMAG's and Starcom MediaVest Group's tools are being adapted for regional markets like China, the Philippines and Malaysia. About 30-40 per cent of IMAG design company dCell's work is being done for international brands that are not even present in India. dCell has designed Good Morning, a leading soap brand in Egypt; it has also done work for a toothpaste brand, Signal, also in Eqypt and on Unilever's worldwide brand Clear.

IMAG-Linterland's rural tools are also being adapted for markets such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China. "Indian business and creative ideas are being appreciated globally," says Ashish Bhasin, Director, IMAG, Lintas India.

Starcom MediaVest's secular planning method (a tool to re-engineer the competitive targeting strategy) and strategic planning tools, that were developed in India, are in use in other Asian markets like China, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Ravi Kiran, CEO, South Asia, Starcom MediaVest, says: "Besides these tools and processes, the success of many of our specialist business solutions is being replicated across other Asian markets." In particular, business units of Starcom MediaVest India like Xpanse, Enhance and C, all of which have been appreciated by the group's CEOs in those countries, might be set up in several markets in future. "When we develop a tool or a process for local market needs, we keep in mind its international potential as well," he adds. XPanse is a rural marketing business unit of Starcom MediaVest India, which has now been set up in Thailand.

So, while Indian ads may not yet have become the toast of international award forums, the industry is slowly carving out a very significant niche for itself in distant corners of the world.

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