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.
In this scenario, we spoke to CVL Srinivas, India Country Manager – WPP.
It has been a month since the lockdown, as head of WPP how are you coping and boosting the morale of the WPP team?
We’ve been lucky enough to anticipate how things may change, given the insights from our global counterparts who were dealing with the pandemic early-on and had the opportunity to plan ahead. When the lockdown came, we already had our teams prepared and working from home. In fact, everyone has rallied together to adapt and we even managed to hold a virtual concert for all our staff featuring Sachin-Jigar this week, which was a whole new way of enjoying a musical performance and possibly a sign of things to come. We launched a WPP Learning Series with interesting programs covering work-related areas as well as for general well-being. Our primary focus is on the welfare of our colleagues, to ensure they are safe and well. Our agencies are also hosting their own sessions from TGIFs to other community virtual sessions to keep everyone engaged and motivated.
WPP and its agencies handle major clients, how are clients responding during this period of crisis?
Everyone’s focused on the immediate weeks ahead and how to keep everything going. What has really surprised me is how quickly we’ve adapted despite the lockdown and are continuing to work closely with the clients. We’ve seen really strong output across our agencies, from virtual events like the Critic’s Choice Awards (GroupM), to Make Your Own Mask for the Times of India, (Wunderman Thompson), hand sanitizers for Jagatjit (Landor), campaigns for Diageo, Netflix and Lenovo (The Glitch), Tata Sky, Asian Paints, Mondelez, The Mother Dairy, Fortune Oil, UPI (Ogilvy), Himalaya, Luminous (82,5) GSK, 3M (Genesis BCW)… the list goes on and the work goes on.
India is the largest hub for WPP, as India Head your strategy to stay ahead of the curve?
We have spent a lot of time communicating and listening to clients to understand how to overcome the challenges they face and assist with managing resources to keep their brand at top of mind with consumers, even in these difficult times.
Going ahead, this is a reset and we are looking at how consumption, habits and lifestyles may change after. There will be opportunities post-COVID, in terms of how portfolios may change and how brand purpose will take on a new meaning. We are collaborating well across the board both within WPP and with our partners to come out stronger and play an even greater role as our client’s trusted partners.
Globally we are seeing an economic slowdown. China has reported 17% fall in revenues, how are you envisaging India’s ADEX growth post COVID 19?
The extent of the impact will depend on how long this prolongs and the kind of relief that is provided to the people / sectors who are most affected by this crisis. Hopefully things will pick up towards end of this year and early next.
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?
We understand that it’s a tight rope walk for brands at the moment, On the one hand needing to be salient, on the other facing supply issues on ground and the need to conserve resources in a tough year. We see CPG, BFSI, Education, Tech brands continuing to advertise though at lower levels in the near-term.
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?
Stay optimistic and seize the moment. Whether it’s for your personal transformation or for your company, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try things differently, be innovative and come up with new ideas.
Any negative impact on traditional media, say Print and OOH?
In the short term there are challenges for sure, but we have seen tremendous adaptability and innovation in our print industry – they have gone digital and mobile to ensure they retain loyalty among their readers, though revenues are hard to come by. If we see a strong recovery by end of year or early next we should see media spends come back across all formats.