Wavemaker has won close to Rs 1,000 cr of new business: Kartik Sharma
It was one year ago, in November 2017 that Wavermaker, GroupM’s billion-dollar revenue, media, content and technology agency created from the merger of MEC and Maxus, opened for business in India. Wavemaker India opened with a team of 700+ professionals and a portfolio of clients that included FMCG giant ITC and L’Oréal, among others.
Headquartered in Mumbai, with offices in Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Thrissur and Kochi, Wavemaker India is helmed by Kartik Sharma, CEO - South Asia. During the year, Sharma not only got big clients such as Mondelez on board, but also cemented various new divisions such as digital and content. “We are on the right path. Going into 2019, we will continue to grow the business,” Sharma told Adgully.
In its first year of operations, Wavemaker India was adjudged Agency if the Year at the Emvies 2018, while its client Vodafone was declared Client of Year.
In conversation with Adgully, Kartik Sharma traces Wavemaker India’s journey in its first year, challenges, major client acquisitions, industry accolades and more. Excerpts:
How has Wavemaker’s first year been in India?
It has been an incredible journey. We launched Wavemaker to help brands grow their business. We achieve this through our Rapid Growth Planning framework, underpinned by the world’s largest consumer journey study, called ‘Momentum’. Momentum has covered over 700,000 journeys across 70 countries and 35 categories.
Early this year, we launched a first of its kind Content Effectiveness Lab in collaboration with Ogilvy. In 2018, we deployed artificial intelligence-based analytics product which helps us optimise marketing investment to deliver higher ROI. We are also deploying a lot of technology solutions in the area of performance marketing. Overall, it has been a fantastic first year for us.
What were the merger challenges and how were they overcome?
We did not face any major challenges during the merger. MEC and Maxus have been two strong, well established legacy brands. We got great advice from our global teams on how to manage the merger. We restructured our teams to deliver better for our clients. This restructure had to undergo a few changes basis client feedbacks. One of the major highlights of the restructure was to strengthen our product stack. We have senior leaders managing our product offerings across analytics, content, performance marketing, e-commerce. This has immensely helped us deliver to our clients.
Could you take us through Wavemaker’s team structure today?
The basic frame structure of our team is based on three important pillars: viz. Media, Content and Technology. Basis this we have a very strong and experienced leadership team in India. We have senior leaders managing our Mumbai, Delhi and South operations. These office heads area ably supported by a team of senior strategists and media buyers.
Our diversified services such as analytics, performance marketing, and e-commerce are headed by a Chief Product Officer and our content practice is managed by a Chief Content officer.
In all, we have very seasoned professionals each part of our business.
What have been the key business challenges in the first year of operations?
As I said earlier, we had the benefit of two strong, well-established agencies under MEC and Maxus. Fortunately, we did not have major challenges. We got great advice from our global teams on how to manage the merger. We restructured our teams to deliver better for our clients. One of the major highlights of the restructure was to strengthen our product offerings. We have senior leaders managing our product offerings across analytics, content, performance marketing, e-commerce. This has immensely helped us deliver to our clients.
What have been the major account wins and client retentions?
We have had remarkable wins this year. We won close to Rs 1,000 crore of new business with brands like Mondelez, Eureka Forbes Ltd, Bisleri International, Mother Dairy, Dream 11 and many more.
We have also been successful in retaining clients like Tata Sky, Perfetti Van Melle and Policybazaar.
What, according to you, contributed most to Wavemaker winning Agency of the Year at the Emvies 2018?
The win has been a great moment for all of us. The entire credit goes to our teams who worked relentlessly in making this happen and to our clients for trusting us as their partners. But, like I always keep saying, awards are a by-product of good work done for clients. Getting recognition and awards at industry platforms like the Emvies is proof of the good work done by the teams during the year.
How is the Effectiveness Lab set up along with Ogilvy shaping up?
This was our initiative in the Content Effectiveness space in collaboration with Ogilvy. We have commissioned a couple of studies and we will soon be publishing the results from the first study.
What have been the key learning and findings of Effectiveness Lab, especially regarding the content ecosystem?
One of the key finding is that creating great content requires the same level of inputs and hard work that goes into creating great advertising. Therefore, great care is required in creating great content.
Where do you see media planning and buying headed in an era of programmatic ads and emerging technologies?
I think the media business constantly keeps evolving, and the evolution largely comes on three fronts: the way the consumer choices keep evolving, the way media and technology is evolving and lastly, the evolving agency eco-system. All of them go hand-in-hand. Consumers today are exposed to a lot of technological changes which have practically taken over our lives. A well-known case in point is the mobile revolution. The mobile is no longer a device for communicating, the mobile is also a computer replacing laptops and tablets. And that has really revolutionised the way in which we consume media.
From the media side, global media changes are felt locally too. India now is a separate topic for many global media companies due to the sheer size and opportunity that the country offers. Indians are as aware of any of our global counterparts and are also expecting more from media brands. India by and large is a value driven market, therefore, media owners have to customise their offerings to appeal to that need without compromising on quality.
Are media agencies ready to take the next leap or will we see them morphing into different entities in the future?
I am an eternal optimist and my belief is that good progressive agencies will make the right changes which will help them morph as per the needs of the market and clients.