Gustavo Martinez, the new global CEO of J Walter Thompson (JWT), says India will have to play a big role in pushing the advertising agency’s global growth rate to 6%-7% a year from less than 4% now. Martinez, who spent about a year to know the network offices and set a growth agenda for 2020 before officially taking over as global CEO on January 1, 2015, started out by announcing new management structures in two of JWT’s biggest offices — New York and India.
“I spent about 11 months to define and understand the company, to create and plan and now it is time to implement,” Martinez said. He said the 2020 agenda is about growth, work, new kind of talent and new way of working. “I think we need to grow at least 6-7% per year globally between organic and inorganic,” he said. “Non-organic is clearly through acquisitions in new capabilities like digital, social content agency, content agency, digital platforms …. Organic is trying to expand our portfolio of clients.
And that’s why it is important for people like Colvyn Harris to join my growth global team to specially deliver the organic growth,” Martinez said. He expects India to be one of the biggest growth providers for the firm, adding he will be happy if JWT grows at about 8% rate in India. “India is a continent. It’s a region in itself,” he said. While JWT is still the largest agency network in India, industry estimate reveals that the JWT India suffered severe revenue losses of about Rs 55-60 crore, in the last two years. Martinez denied this. “The facts are wrong. JWT India is still one of our largest companies and one of the most profitable companies we have in the organisation,” he said.
“I also don’t want to measure JWT one year or the last six months performance. I will see the whole trend of the organisation. Clearly, in order to deliver the growth, we have set very ambitious targets and India needs to push the envelope.
And therefore we are… reinforcing and reenergising the organisation.” On Tuesday, the firm had announced Tarun Rai as the new CEO of JWT South Asia, replacing Colvyn Harris who has been promoted as executive director, global growth and client development.
In terms of improving skillset in JWT, Martinez said ‘shopper marketing’ is an avenue that needs to be built in India. “Retail is still very traditional in India. I think because of the implementation of the new laws, the regulations it will catch up with the rest of the world. Shopper marketing will definitely become one of the fastest growing disciplines within our communication portfolio,” Martinez said.
He said that while global investor sentiment is positive towards India, the government needs to simplify regulations and processes as they are currently “extremely complex”. “My clients are definitely willing to increase their investments in the country. There was some kind of bitterness before because India didn’t crystallise enough.
I think after the formation of the new government the sentiment is up again,” he said. Martinez listed lack of infrastructure and legal problems among the hurdles that stopped big investment flow into India. “That for me will be the big challenge. It exactly what happened with Mexico two or three years ago. The new president put in the right changes and the laws but the problem was implementation.
In India, the Prime Minister ( Narendra Modi) will be successful only if he can implement his plan,” he said. He also said mobile phone will play a dominant role in the future. “We are already becoming a multi-screen kind of consumer. Everything is going to be mobile. Data is going to fundamental and third is creativity. How can be more creative taking advantage and leverage all the new resources and channels that we have?” Martinez said.
To deal with this kind of challenges, Martinez is introducing a new style of management in the ystem that he called “channel agnostic”. “Focus on how we can deliver the new demands of the clients. More focus towards digital orientation and technology orientation. We need to have a management ready to embrace the challenges and try to even foresee those challenges and to readopt the structure in a nimble way for these changes,” Martinez said.