The country has seen an unprecedented lockdown since the outbreak of this pandemic. The recent outbreak of the COVID – 19 has caused a tectonic shift in most people’s lives. There is so much stress and anxiety of job losses, loneliness, and other factors.
MediaNews4U spoke to Navin Khemka, CEO, MediaCom South Asia.
It has been nearly a month since the lockdown, and now it has been extended till the 3rd of May. As Mediacom how are you coping and boosting the morale of the team? What are the challenges you are facing at this time of crisis?
We are demonstrating our ‘People First’ culture. This is the time to Walk The Talk with our people who we value foremost. I am ensuring regular interactions with all teams on daily basis to provide singular POV of what is happening with the organization. We are spending a lot of time on upskilling our teams and also doing training sessions with our clients.
We are also helping each other in tough times, especially those with limited support, those living on their own. We have identified 20 kids who were not able to travel back home due to the lockdown – The Home alone kids. We have connected them to employees staying in the same vicinity and also given them a SPOC in each city in case of any emergency. It’s time that they do not feel alone and lonely and we get together as one community.
At a group level a host of initiatives across wellness, training, games, stand-up comedy, and podcasts are being organized to keep our teams engaged. These are being attended with a lot of enthusiasm across our teams and locations.
How are your clients dealing with this lockdown, and what are the suggestions and strategies you are offering them?
We are in constant touch with our clients on a regular basis. Our external communication strategy includes regular interaction with clients and stakeholders to keep them updated with impact of COVID on media and their business interests. Thought leadership POV’s on COVID situation is regularly shared with clients to keep them abreast with the evolving situation. This is being developed on a weekly basis as the situation evolves.
We are also looking at short term strategies to ensure that we are able to turnaround quickly as the situation is dynamic. Some clients in digital, gaming sectors are seeing an unprecedented growth in demand. We are also getting some briefs on doing very topical and innovative campaigns with social messaging on distancing, helping migrant labour, donations etc. Teams are able to take these campaigns live seamlessly.
What will be Mediacom’s strategy to stay ahead of the curve?
At MediaCom we are constantly in touch with our offices globally and trying to understand this situation better especially from countries who are ahead of the curve.
Given the market situations in countries like China across key categories we are advising our clients on what they could expect from consumer sentiment and demand bounce back POV. I am confident we are geared up on what to expect as we start getting out of this situation in the next 2-3 weeks.
Globally we are seeing an economic slowdown, how are you envisaging India’s ADEX growth post COVID 19?
My sense is that this quarter will be a washout and we will see a significant drop in media investments. From July to Dec with normalcy returning we can expect the overall spends to remain flat as compared to 2019. If this happens it would be good for the industry and we will not decline the Adex.
TV and OTT are seeing a huge spike in viewership, DD has relaunched its old classics, also new viewership pattern in the NEWS genre, how are brands now during this lockdown looking at their advertising strategy and also which sectors will benefit?
It is true that there is significant increase in time spent on media at this point. This is obvious. Some media like TV, Digital are seeing a high spike in their numbers across all dayparts.
However, due to the lockdown there is also very less demand for advertising inventory. This is basically due to 2 key factors – one people at home cannot go out and buy as all markets are closed including most e-commerce, two there is a supply disruption given the lockdown.
For advertising to pick up, it is critical to see what measures are announced post 20th April. If some sectors are relaxed then we will see renewed demand on media.
Having said that some online apps and news brands are seeing an unprecedented demand for their business. This is just like how digital payments got a huge push during demonetization. My sense is that online and TV consumption will see a rise in the next few quarters.
COVID 19 has also seen anxiety issues, job losses, brands rethinking their ad spends, what will be your one positive Mantra to think positive in these trying times? The millennials have never seen something like this. What is your advice to them?
My advice to them would be to use this disruption and acquire new skills that will be relevant in the future. New job opportunities will emerge in the new world post COVID-19 and they should be the first ones to adapt and embrace this change. They have a full life & career ahead and should make the best use of the upcoming opportunity. However, one word of caution is that everybody will have to come out of their comfort zones and learn to adapt. This requires a lot of unlearning and we need to all help them with this change. So the onus is not only on them but also us to help them embrace the future.
Any negative impact on traditional media, say Print and OOH?
Any negative impact is temporary. Especially on Print, OOH & Cinema. I think once we get back to normal they will also make up.
The credibility of Print is even more critical in today’s world. They will get stronger both in the physical & digital world.
OOH & Cinema will gain momentum as soon as we start stepping out of homes. So not much to worry there.
With major events being cancelled, especially IPL, VIVO as the main sponsor and a client of Mediacom, how do you see a way forward on this? Will this money on IPL be diverted to other activities and how will the brand be impacted?
We are totally invested with the IPL. Currently the league is suspended for 2020. We will get more clarity post the lockdown is lifted. We have various scenarios ready with IPL / without IPL as our activity has to go on given that we have launches planned in the next couple of months.