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By '17end Dentsu would be no 2 player in India: Ashish Bhasin

Dentsu Group recently reported a 14.9% gain in revenue globally to about $1.37 billion for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2015 (April to June 2015). It reported organic growth profit of 8.1% for the same period.

As for Asia Pacific (APAC) excluding Japan, first half year of FY2015 saw good growth backed by impressive performance from Australia, India and key markets in South East Asia. The company is buoyant about the future and expects to deliver a performance ahead of the market in 2015, while maintaining its forecast of an increase in gross profit of 8.6%.

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman & CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, Chairman Posterscope and psLive, Asia Pacific, shares the company’s sentiment,  “Globally, we have had a good year. In fact, the unique thing this year has been that nearly all our businesses have been performing well,” he says.

He is excited about India’s contribution to this performance. He calls it the best year Dentsu Aegis has had in the country so far and is happy that all its divisions be it creative, media, digital or outdoor have done pretty well. He informs, “One of the key things that have worked well for us is that we have one PNL concept. Everybody reports to one PNL, which is controlled by me for south Asia and through me it reports out to the rest of the world.” He adds, “The advantage it gives us is that we are able to give what is best for the brand, move liquid talent because ultimately it is all one PNL. So, for instance, if India misses its target, nobody gets a bonus. If India meets its target, everybody is entitled to a bonus.”

As for India operations, it has a 1700 strong workforce. Almost 700 of these people are from digital domain. He takes us through the performance of all the divisions, “Outdoor has been spectacular where we are not only market leaders but dominant players. We probably have 35% of market share. We have four digital companies, Isobar, I prospect, Dentsu Webchutney and Wat Consult. Creative too has done brilliantly, particularly Taproot Dentsu. In media we have got clients like Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, and as a group we won, Panasonic. We won the creative of Maruti Suzuki as well.” He adds, “We have won a number of new businesses and have been leading the new business league, at least on the media side for most of the year.”

As for acquisitions the agency has made in various domains, he says it is all a part of well thought out strategy, “We respond to clients’ needs. We want to make sure if Dentsu has a client, as far as possible, we should be able to address all his advertising and communication needs, whether it is media, digital or outdoor. For instance, few years ago we predicted search would gain importance (SEO, SEM). As we did not have strong presence in that area, we acquired Communication2 which was a market leader. We realised that outdoor would become critical going forward, so in spite of being a big player in the space, we acquired Milestone. To fulfil brand requirements in social, we acquired the largest social company Watconsult. We have not made a single acquisition without careful analysis and evaluation.

Though Dentsu Aegis has grown both in terms of volume of work and size of its  agencies, Bhasin believes the best is yet to come. He and his team are working towards being number two player in the market by 2017 end. He says, “For many years, number one and two players have been WPP and IPG. We believe that we are now in a position that by the end of 2017, we should be the clear number two player. We would be able to dislodge everybody else. Our growth will be a combination of organic growth from all the businesses we have already invested in as well as acquisitions wherever relevant.”  He continues, “We have been the fastest growing agency group for two years in a row in India. We are growing at almost 300% of the market growth. So if the market has grown 11%, we have grown 33 %. We want to make sure that we continue it for few more years.”



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