Priti Murthy, Chief Executive Officer at OMD India, has two decades of experience in the field of media planning, insights, and strategy, she helps businesses build a stronger connect with the brand teams on key challenges. Thereby aiding them to articulate with better communications and evolve upon a robust business plan.
Priti is focused upon translating consumer behaviour into successfully crafted brand narratives, Priti believes that stories help build connect and strengthen the existing journeys. Thus, adding great value to the business, while being the key to drive growth for brands that work in association with OMD.
From creating new tools to CRM, from insights driven by research, to online advertising and digital strategy, she has imbibed a plethora of skills over the years. Priti is passionate about media, consumers, and brands.
In today’s Leaderspeak, Priti Murthy – CEO – OMD India talks to us on her experience in the field of Media & Advertising, brand strategies in the new normal, her training programmes for middle-level managers and much more.
Who is Priti Murthy?
I am a steadfast strategist. I am curious. I am passionate. I am a people’s person. And I am a coach. I am currently the CEO of OMD India, an Omnicom Media Group-owned agency. With more than two decades of evolving expertise in the Advertising and Media industry, I can say I have led many business stories to fruition as a growing, yet authentic thought leader.
With over two decades in the Advertising & Media Industry, how has the industry changed over the years?
Industry is the same, yet so different. We still work on brands, storytelling, and media choices every day. Data, though, has allowed us to leverage insights on consumer preferences, mind-set and decisions, which allows for dynamism in the way we think and work. I have literally seen ‘actionable data and virality’ become buzzwords earlier in the decade with things going digital. From TV, radio and OOH, we have progressed to AdTech which has grown by leaps and bounds with customization and programmatic ad serving. Now, we are living in the ‘streaming decade’ and TV, connected to smart devices, most of the time. With deeper insights, inventory forecast has become easier, ad spends have become more effective and ad placements can be optimized based on consumer segmentation. Technology has definitely become a competitive advantage.
My 13 years at Maxus gave me leverage over the psychographic nuances that some segments of the industry are now waking up to. Here, I was associated with Moribus, a Behavioural Science Lab that merges the disciplines of behavioural science, sociology, and psychology to solve real-life business problems, which clued me into consumer sentiments early on. This made me competent to offer customer-centric strategies by actively listening to consumer truth stories, creating more touchpoints. As a business leader today, I bring alive the agility of the tech-inclined thinking and make it actionable for business growth. Of course now, with the pandemic, clients are recalibrated to the COVID-19 reality. User-generated and vernacular content is on the rise, as brands are positioning themselves for purpose along with profit.
Your role as CEO, OMD?
At OMD India, my work pivots around enabling brand teams to create, innovate and breakthrough by reinventing thinking, processes and trends. I lead business functions, with a focus on building future-ready teams, managing client relationships, and securing new business and growth. Facilitating teams to work through key challenges on media planning, insights and strategy, I try to enable the work culture transition into a tech-savvy, agile and fluid workforce that is needed for the current hour. I also lead organizational changes by supporting people to do their work flexibly and collaboratively. I strive to deliver this in the most authentic manner, as passionately as I can. Those who know me, will relate to this very much.
The challenges you faced and the most important achievement in your career?
The most challenging would have to be the COVID era. I used to wonder how people worked through war time, etc. With the pandemic, so many realities have dawned on us so fast. Adapting to WFH, transition to virtual communication, leading passionately without physical interaction! Being an authentic leader, the transition has been relatively simpler as I remain aligned to people and share my tough calls, my happy calls, with more awareness. It’s easier for a CEO to talk about business growth, revenue and profitability. This is a necessity. My achievement has been more in the people connect – being a coach helps as it brings in more collaboration and 98% consciousness of what’s working for business.
As a women leader and CEO, what is your take on women getting more opportunities in the corporate world?
Gender bias definitely exists everywhere. The fact that this question was posed to a woman, itself states that it exists. We are a long way from achieving the parity we desire. The industrial era norms of office hours, location etc. is now futile in our industry. The past year has shown us how we can work remotely and successfully. This needs to be complemented with more opportunities by cultivating flexibility to deliver from virtual/remote locations too since women juggle a lot of responsibilities. I have been questioned many times about my quick growth, just like people often advise women to take lighter jobs or focus on families. But this dialogue needs to detach itself from gender being a judgement factor for merit. Corporates are slowly opening to a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Omnicom Media Group has 70% women, in fact. I would say there is a need to sensitize companies more and more towards equity at work and enable women to lead from the front.
We are seeing a huge spike in Digital. How are brands looking at their advertising strategies? Do you see more and more brands will increase ad spends on digital?
TV retains its relevance & digital media remains the strongest advertising platform and more-so with improved internet and smart device accessibility in addition to the demand for data led consumer insights. January to March witnessed 456 million seconds of ad volume on TV which is highest between 2018 — 2021.That said, with the second wave of the pandemic, sentiments will have to be a lot more optimistic for the advertising industry to see holistic growth, especially across OOH, radio and print. Categories like consumer durables, consumer electronics and even luxury retail brands are seeing dull growth as high investment categories. Healthcare, pharma, FMCG, IT, Essentials are likely to see an uptick as consumer demand for online purchase evolves.
New normal is seeing new buying habits, as brand custodians your strategies?
Adapting to consumer sentiment, we are being consciously nimble. We are providing digital solutions to clients that are not hinged on a tall order but more realistic metrics to drive sustained growth. OMNI, our proprietary people precision marketing platform, allows us to capture this new normal and custom plan accordingly.
2020 was a real setback for the industry, how are you envisaging India’s AdEx growth post-COVID-19?
Yes, 2020 was all about plugging out. As for 2021, the projected percentage decline in ad revenues is quite varied across mediums like films, OOH, radio and print, quite expectedly. And digital, of course, will be the only medium that shows growth in terms of advertising revenue, currently projected at 35% with OTT seeing an unprecedented growth. Looking at the numbers and the impact that the pandemic has had on an economy that was already a little sluggish, it seems like it will take till the end of 2021 for the advertising industry to see holistic growth, and till mid-end 2022 for a full and complete recovery. A lot of this will depend on inventory and ad-rates.
Mentor you want to mention and what is that one thing you learned that has led you in good stead?
I feel gratitude towards all my mentors. DivyaRadhakrishan is someone who is always just a call away for me, even today. Ajit Varghese, who could possibly have been a mentor to half of industry CEOs, including me, will of course always be a level-headed counsel. I have learnt from many peers, friends, clients, partners too – who have shaped my career trajectory.
As an ACC, are you seeing more women as middle-level managers?
My focused growth and passion for people led me to become an Associate Certified Coach, and today I am happy that my skills are accredited by the International Coaching Federation. Recruiting women as middle level managers is a healthy choice for any organization. At OMD India, we have a healthy mix of employees and our decisions are beyond gender, with a focus on capabilities.
In this new normal, what is your strategy to stay ahead of the curve?
- Keep the eye on brand health and consideration
- Innovate for strengthening the brand story
- Allow for media to bring in magic continuously
- Align short term strategy with long term business goals
What would be your advice to the young millennial joining the media on how to tackle this new normal?
- Upskill and reinvent yourself as much as possible to manage dynamic deliveries
- Be constantly connected with consumers as there is little to no scope of physical interaction anytime soon
- Be creative, nimble and collaborate to adapt to industry trends
How do you de-stress yourself? Your go-to activities during the weekends?
I definitely take out time for workout, reading and music. I start my day with music and end my day with books. I ensure to make time to be fully present with my family. I realised during the lockdown that my TV/OTT consumption has reduced and I now value going out, enjoy quiet walks outside and nature more.