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2017 in Review: Naresh Gupta & Babita Baruah relook at advertising industry

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO, Managing Partner - ‎Bang in the Middle, and Babita Baruah, Managing Partner, GTB India (WPP), do a recap of how the year 2017 has been for the advertising industry. While for Gupta, the year was flat, Baruah believes that the advertising industry faces competition from players that were not in the competitive circle a few years ago. 

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO, Managing Partner - ‎Bang in the Middle:
If 2017 ever looked back at itself, it may want to forget that it existed for the advertising industry. The year was flat, most brands were trying to come to grips with changed economic system, consumers were busy discovering how life can be without consumption (not conspicuous), and the advertising industry overall saw another year of squeeze on margins. 

The year has been tough for large network agencies, has been tougher for small independents. Not a year that can be remembered, except for the global honour for Piyush and Prasoon Pandey by Cannes Advertising Festival. At least 2017 gave us a memorable parting gift. 

2017 was also the year when WhatsApp took off in India and became the second largest social media channel and may be the most influential one at that. “Forwards” became the new gossip, and “forwarded as received” meant this may be gossip, I know its gossip but it’s too good to miss out on. Phones now have 20GB of good morning messages and 200GB of political hatred. Brands have not done much with WhatsApp, may be there is a big campaign coming. Digital is facing a crisis of credibility and WhatsApp is not going to change it in a hurry. 

Babita Baruah, Managing Partner, GTB India (WPP):
Data, Content, E-commerce and of course, the bedrock of technology, are redefining the agency roles and how we can impact business. The advertising industry faces competition from players that were not in the competitive circle a few years ago. This makes it challenging. 

2017 – annus horribilis or annus mirabilis? 

The industry can never be described as horrible. It creates brand equity, impacts business and partners clients on innovative solutions. The financial results are what define a good year and a bad year. To me, that’s one important part, but there is more. It is about whether we have done work that has impacted business and lives, talent that we have attracted and retained, solutions we have pioneered, and leaders we have grown.

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