In an exclusive chat with Social Samosa, Saurabh Varma, CEO, Publicis Communications South Asia comments on industry phenomenons and the state of the Indian ad world.
With over 20 years of experience in building brands, Saurabh Varma ‘s passion for advertising reflects in his work and words. He loves to understand why people do what they do. An advertising veteran, he heads a plethora of agencies under the Publicis Communications in South Asia. In a Samosa Talks’ live session, he lets people pick his brain about the world of advertising.
What does advertising mean to you and how do you think the Indian advertising space has evolved in the last few years?
We are pretty much in the middle of wave three. Wave one was a time when you and I would open a newspaper and enjoy a long copy ad and share it. Wave two was about connecting with the masses. Wave three is about the opportunities that have come with data and technology. It is about dynamic content and experiences. Things have gone way beyond an ad that comes and goes by. The evolution of content across the globe has been pretty much the same. People across the globe are consuming similar content. My purpose and joy reside in the third wave.
Could you share some tenets for agencies to follow to ensure a healthy client-agency relationship?
Most agencies today have become glorified scriptwriters. A part of the issue is that we have never really asked ourselves, challenged ourselves to change, adapt, and become relevant to clients. If you look at the client’s perspective, their life is in turmoil. They work with multiple people and often the storytelling that happens on the behalf of their brands is broken. They want someone who can build a seamless (not same) story across mediums and best in class operations. The problem is that we don’t know to use different specialisations to solve the problem.
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What do you think is the future of advertising agencies?
If you have to survive in the future, you need data, have the ability to create dynamic content and unleash technology to ensure you have scalable solutions across the touchpoints a consumer generally enjoys.
Do you feel more often than not, brands are making campaigns to win accolades and the essence of marketing and selling is lost?
It is not about selling, it’s about relevance. Why are we in this business? We are not in it for awards. If the starting point is about the idea, it can’t be successful. We need to look at solving problems. You need to have an understanding of your client’s metrics and create relevant solutions. If you look at the international festivals today, 70% of the conversation is around purpose in regards to work that is CSR oriented but has no relevance to the brand’s purpose. That is a massive distraction to the industry and needs to be challenged.
What is your view about this year’s wins at international festivals?
I don’t really enjoy conversations around wins and loses. What really matters is whether the young talent here has exposure to the best work in the world and is able to benchmark themselves and create standards that are world-class. Conversations around functional integration, utility and technology are important and relevant. It’s a futuristic and progressive conversation. This is where global platforms play a role.
You can see the entire interview with Saurabh here: