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Rediff.com  » Business » Ads never lie: FCB Ulka boss

Ads never lie: FCB Ulka boss

Last updated on: March 04, 2008 17:34 IST

Has the Budget been harsh on the advertising industry? Or has it been really good? How can advertising business make the most of this year's Budget?

Now that Finance Minister P Chidambaram has tabled the Budget, what plans should ad bosses chart out?

Does the world of advertising intrigue you? Do you want to know some unknown facets of this extremely creative industry? Do you feel advertising in India still has a long way to go? Do awards won in this field do justice to creative minds?

In an hour-long chat on rediff.com on Monday, MG (Ambi) Parameswaran, Executive Director & CEO Mumbai, Draftfcb Ulka replied to many such readers' queries. Here is the transcript:

Ambi M G Parameswaran says, Welcome to the chat. I do hope we will have some interesting issues to discuss today. While I am no expert on economic matters, I do believe the annual budget exercise in the country serves the purpose of refocussing our collective energy on the country at large and the economic realities. So welcome and hope you enjoy the chat.

ULKAISBAD asked, Why did you leave FCB ULKA?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers,  at 2008-03-03 14:32:58I am very much at FCB Ulka; our agency is now called Draftfcb Ulka. This is the result of the merger of Draft Worldwide and FCB Worldwide.
lams asked, I have my own agency and did benefit a lot in 2006-2007 due to boom period. This budget over all looks cushy, although th market is slower. What does 2008 hold for the ad industry post budget?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, As a general comment, I think the budget should be helpful to small and big agencies, since it is a consumption driven budget. It is going to put a little more money in the hands of the middle class tax paying consumer.
tyui asked, Do you think Chidambarm's Budget will be conducive for the growth of ad industry?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, The latest budget has nothing specific for or against the ad industry. But since it is aimed at lowering prices [of auto, durables etc with the excise duty cut] and increasing cash in hand [thru changes in tax structure], it should help spurr consumption. To enable consumption of specific brands, advertising will be needed. So the budget should aid ad spending.
Titli asked, As an ad boss, what's your take on working from home concept?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, This is a question not related to the topic at hand, but it is of relevance, so I will try and answer it. Advertising needs face to face interaction and so a person operating out of home may not work too well. Often you need to have long brainstorming meetings, discussions etc before an idea can be crafted. So a copywriter who only operates out of home will be of limited value. On the other hand, advertising agencies offer flexi timing to people who have other commitments. The employee concerned could come into office on specific days, at specfic times. That could be the closest we can get to 'work from home' concept.
rama asked, Dear Sir, how do you see the Indian ad industry 5 years hence?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Advertising industry should continue to grow over the medium and long term. and as long as GDP growth is in the 7+ region, ad growth will be 10+.
trer asked, Dear sir, does ad industry pay well?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Yes. It pays well. But these days there are many definitions of 'paying well' so let us not get into that.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, The best route for you would be to do an MBA from a good management school and they try to get into a reputed agency. Many agencies like ours visit management schools to take fresh MBAs as Management Trainees. If you are passionate about advertising, you will get in and do well.
Srivats asked, Dear Mr Parameswaran, how do the finance minister's proposals affect the advertising world? Or do they at all?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, There is nothing specific to the ad world in the budget. So the discussion is on the indirect effect the budgetary moves will have on the ad industry. I have addressed this in one of the previous posts.
gajaraja asked, who r u r major clients
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Draftfcb Ulka is one of India's top five agencies; our clients include Tata Motors, Wipro, ITC Foods, Amul, Zee, Whirlpool, Tata Teleservices, Hero Honda, ICICI Bank, J&J, Zodiac, TCS, SC Johnson, Naukri.com, ibibo, Tata Green, LIC, HCL Computers, Bajaj Consumer Care, among others.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I am not aware of any changes.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Yes. There are options in event design, packaging, publishing. But advertising may be the best.
Pip asked, Sir, I have been trying to enter the world of advertising... i think i write fairly well and have the confidence to become a good copywriter. with a bit of training and polish i am sure i can realyl shine.. however, i do not know how to go about it.. what is the best way to jin a good ad agency?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, To get into an agency as a copy writer or a copy trainee you need to approach them and do a copy test. Make a CV and send it around. Then visit the top agencies and ask to meet the HR Head for a copy test.
Diya asked, Sir, is advertising a good career for an Arts graduate...? I mean i do not realyl understand anything about management and stuff... so can i be successful in the world of ads? what qualifications do i need for this
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Absolutely. There are options for an arts graduate to prosper in advertising. An MBA will help, but is not a must. You can look at a client servicing option in advertising. If you have a head for numbers, you could also look at media.
Kamal asked, As an ad boss, what will be your tips to someone wanting to do well in the ad industry?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Commitment. Passion. Dedication. And a love for ads. This may sound a little too preachy, but that is it. If you love to read, write, love movies and appreciate the finer points of the art, you are half way there..
Pallavi asked, What's the best ad on TV today, according to you? I like the Metlife ad, the Havells' non-burning cable ad, etc... the ones i do not like are the new pepsi youngistan ad.. could you name 5 of your choices?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I am biassed. But the ad we did for Naukri.com is possibly the best ad on Indian TV over the last two years. it is on strategy, works brillantly. And is watchable a million times.
Amarjit asked, Do you think there's a future for online advertising in India? I understand less than 1 percent of ad revenue goes to online firms... why is it so? how can this pie increase? as an online media exec i would be very grateful to know your opinion on this.
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Online ad spends are still less than 1 % in India. But it is growing. In the next five years it should get to about 4%. The reason is partly technology driven, with the low penetration of broad band, what internet advertising can do is limited. But this will change soon. Also internet is becoming a great via media to deliver messages on the other great medium, mobile.
vpatnaik asked, i believe that these days the ad industry is too much into hyperbole and very little information. sometimes i think the ads even give misleading information (though not necessarily deliberate, may be). do you agree with the idea that there has to be a regulator to control the content of advertisements?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, We have a body called ASCI, advertising standards council if India. It is a self-regualtory body and handles all types of complaints. If you feel strongly about any ad, please complain.
Ali asked, Dear Sir, do you think advertising agencies worldwide are slowly but surely shrinking due to a lot of Corporate Communication and setups inhouse. If you see FMCG and Pharma cos. the trend has started
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Ad industry is not shrinking, in fact the definition of advertising is changing rapidly. And the modes are changing, with the latest web 2.0 initiatives and c2c messaging.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Durables and Auto will definitely go for an increase spend level. I think many saving oriented products too will up the spends.
sureshbabu asked, how can do freelance in ads industry?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Freelance talent is only used in some specific areas like art, translation, research etc. You need to approach the agencies and see whether you can get an entry.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, These are fundamentally great companies. So invest on the basis of the true value of the company and you will reap dividends in the long term.
Sanjana asked, Why do ad companies still sign Amitabh Bachchan when his solo films collapse at the box office on the first day? Is it because the decision makers are fascinated by him and overlook the fact that he is a spent force or is it because they receive some sort of favors/ kickbacks in return?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I don't think AB can give kick backs to a large corporations. I think the temptation is to get a cut through in the ad message. And celebrities work well to get that; more than that is not possible to predict.
shakeel asked, heloo do you think that advertising agency are their to change the consumer perception.how much ethical do u think?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Advertising is ethical. And as Thomas Jefferson said many years ago 'the only thing you can believe in the newspaper are the ads'.
Titli asked, Sir, do you think Indian ad industry still has a long way to go
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Yes, we are on our way up. Indian ad talent is in demand in many parts of the world. we may not win the global ad awards, but that is not a crime, as long as our ads work in our country.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, You need to see if you can get an MBA; that would be the best way to enter advertising.
HealthIsWealth asked, Sir, why do companies look only to sports or film stars to endorse their products? Does this strategy work? How can one tell the effectiveness of the ad? And to what extent do such endorsements lead to a rise in product-sale?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Celebrities are used to enable the brand to 'cut through' the ad clutter. If the personality is just there, then it will not work. But if the celebrity plays a relevant role, may be it will be worth the money.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Difficult to estimate the niche ads, since they are nice directed.
Abs asked, Ambi, Hi, I belong to your industry, I just wanted to know what is the funda behind using salt and pepper in the new Ad of Amul which is on the hoardings all over the country, we are talking about being creative, does that Ad has any creative message ?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, The particular hoarding you are refering to, I think, is about low salt butter. Hence the salt shaker that is closed up. My guess.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Print advertising in many countries is on the wane. But in India, it will continue to grow, esp with the increasing literacy rates, low pricing of newspapers etc. Online will grow. But so will print.
brajendra asked, what you feel about the future direction of indian add industry as it moves forward in terms of application of ideas and in terms of use of new technologies and more costlier addvertisenments?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, We believe ideas will have to go beyond the medium. So a great idea will have to be able to travel across media like print, tv, internet etc. Just making costly ads is not the solution.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Try and do a copy test in some reputed agency. you will know where you stand.
Abs asked, Hi Ambi, may be the 1st question of mine was too targeted to someone and hence the reply did not come in, instead let me ask you this, why in this world do people use the same creative message in outdoors as the TV, when we all know that the tv viewing time is shrinking, so if i have not seen an ad on TV, I cannot relate it to outdoors, do you think this will continue or there will be a change in this arena of outdoor advertising.
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, The idea to sell a brand has to travel across many media. So at times the outdoor media is just used as a reminder of tv, and at times it is used totally independently. Ideally each medium should work in isolation and work together to provide synergy.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, My Delhi colleagues tell me that ibibo campaign is working well. They are having several thousand sign ups a day. Surrogate advertisng has been admonished by ASCI before. That stand will continue.
kamar asked, why not ad gurus like u, start Ad world releated educational & training courses for better future of advertising industry
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I have done my bit by writing three books on branding and advertising. They are available on rediff.com. I do, and I also know of many ad professionals who take time out to teach at various schools. Starting an ad course is a difficult proposition, esp if you have a 9 to 9 job.
kgirish asked, Hi param, what is needed to start an ad agency?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Courage. Conviction. And may be one anchor client who will help you start the hiring.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, not at all. there are many brand extentions that are successful. Used indiscriminately, yes the two can happen.
chakradhar asked, Sir, I am CREATIVE. I don't have any degree or diploma in ads. All I know is CREATIVE thinking ,a little bit of art and 3d animation. How do YOU think I can get into advertising( concepts basically) industry. YOUR valuable suggestions please...
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Many agencies are looking for creative talent that can translate ideas into the new media. So make your portfolio and go calling on the top agencies. Or if you can land a job in a small agency, get in, build a portfolio and move after a year of so.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, the two industries are broadly in the services part of the economy. But advertising is a lot more 'face to face' than bpo.
brajendra asked, sir, don't u feel that there should be a sepration in between adds for adults and child and there time of telecast and more importantly what add industry as whole is doing on this matter and what you feel you and your company can do for it?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, There is new regulation coming in the US and in Europe on ads with kids. we are a lot more liberal in our country, which is why we in advertising have to be a lot more careful.
asked, 
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, There are many ads that portray the culture of the country well, as a part of their oveall messaging. Our taste of India campaigns have always had a pan India feel.
somitra asked, Hi Sir! can we measure advertising results by mere checking the brand recall?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Advertising effectiveness is measured not just in awareness of ad or the brand, but also on parameters on which it is supposed to work on the consumer, to change their perceptions about the brand. Sales is the ultimate desired result.
somitra asked, How can advertising build loyalty in low involvement products like Coke and Pepsi?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Only by appealing to the emotions. That is what they are trying to do.
ansh asked, we r suffering from hell lotta problems like Aids, poverty, unemployment... Wat r the ad agencies doing in this regard? they should do sometrhing as they r in media to fight the evils...
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, A number of agencies such as ours in involved in developing messageing to help stop spread of aids. We had done a campaign last year on 'Jawaan Hoon. Naadan Nahin' aimed the youth; it was run in a few states and this year should go national.
shakeel asked, but sir today there are lots of ads that show that feature that are not there in the product.do you think they are doing justice to the consumers???
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, You cannot lie in an ad. You will get caught. the product has to have the feature that you are advertising.
skm asked, Sir do creative mind needs MBA, than only they can enter Advertising?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, not at all. MBAs are prefered in servicing and planning.
june asked,  In the budget the FM has made it conducive for rural growth- how do you think the ad industry is going to reach the masses -beyond television that is measurable for the advertisers?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, The budget has tried alleviate rural debt. That need not spur demand in rural areas. But if that leads to some upward movement in demand, it would be a bonus.
Shudhanshu asked, Is India also getting advertising contracts from abroad? I mean is the West also outsourcing ads?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, This is as yet a trickle. But we may see some bigger moves in the coming years, definitely in the areas of ad production, if not ad creation, which is still very culture specific.
june asked, Do you see many advertising agencies being listed in the Indian market..because of the budget.. The Indian market still has few large agencies listed in the stock exchange.. why is that so?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I do not see any Indian agency entering the stock market in the near future. we do not need big capital. but in the next few years, units that are looking at ad production for the global market will enter the market.
Zapper asked, With commission system going away, how the industry is coping up with attracting talent for low-salary compared to IT / ITES ??
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, the commision system is still very much there; only it gets interpreted in many many ways. as ad pie grows, we will hopefully see pricing power returnning to the bigger shops, leading to better margins, and better pay packages. it is widely felt that the pay increases this year in IT/BFSI industries will not be too high. That should help.
Rocky asked, What kind of CTC figures can Ad Industry offer for a) people with 3 to 4 year exp b) freshers c) people with MBAs (IIMs) and looking to shift? Am contemplating shift.
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Starting salaries can be in the region of 3.0 to 3.3 lacs; but increases can be dramatic to the right candidate. You should start a dialogue with a HR person and see.
ratheesh asked, Who is the biggest spender of ads in india?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, Unilever
Sohail asked, Sir, why is it that aspiring creative talent has to rush to Mumbai agencies? What are the obstacles that prevent ad agencies in other cities to meet these standards?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, In every country one key city becomes the magnet of talent. In India it was originally Calcutta, then it became Mumbai. Now Delhi and Bangalore are also good destinations to start an ad career.
pradyum asked, Marketing research in India is not in Progress,Why?
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I am not sure what you are saying about Marketing Research. We have many fine agencies and a number of clients do use research for all their critical decisions.
vishwnath asked, wehear are you lieav
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, I am very much here till 4pm :)
surajml asked, hi ambi i asked one question till now i havnt go the answer---suraj
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, please repeat the question.
Sankalpa Das asked, Is a degree in art mandatory to become an art director in an ad agency
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, not at all. in the creative fields it is just talent
surajml asked, I need interested in Ad, but i cant work in full time as i am working as UI consultant, do, so i need work partime or in weekends, can u help me
Ambi M G Parameswaran answers, You can try flexi time options.
Ambi M G Parameswaran says, Time to go. Thanks for the barrage of questions. I managed to answer about 50 of them in the time alloted to me. best wishes. bye.