We live in a tactical world more than a brand building world: Ashish Bhasin

Brand building has become a complex exercise in today’s market ecosystem, where there are several factors at play – be it the pace at which technology is changing, and along with the evolving consumer behaviour and preferences. The growth of multiple platforms has also contributed to the market complexities. 

Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO – South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, dwelled on the ‘Nuts and bolts of building a successful brand in today’s time’ in an engaging fireside chat with Gurmit Singh, Founder, Dauwau, at the inaugural edition of The Mobile Media Summit, 2018, held in Mumbai on December 12. 

While undermining the growing importance of digital, Bhasin informed that today, Dentsu gets 46 per cent of its revenues from digital. He then went on to state how digital has started influencing brand building endeavours. Ever since 1988, the pace of change gathered pace, he noted. This was due to factors like the advent of colour television, the Asian Games and a wider spread of television. Following this, the introduction private satellite television also changed the way brands were advertised. 

Bhasin pointed out that today the move is to an era of the specialist from the era of the generalists and added that silos are disappearing. 

What brands and clients want today is real-time instantaneous response. Hence, there is a huge focus on driving efficiencies. “Today, it is a tactical world rather than merely a brand building world,” Bhasin affirmed”. 

This has also impacted the very way brand managers work. The average tenure of a brand manager today is 18-20 months, according to Bhasin, while that of a CEO is around 2 years. “And the legacy agencies are struggling with this,” he added. 

L to R: Ashish Bhasin, Gurmit Singh
L to R: Ashish Bhasin, Gurmit Singh

Marketers are beginning to question, why not put a brand on an e-commerce platform like Amazon or Flipkart rather that going the entire market route, as the time is cut short, plus there is instant feedback from customers. 

Speaking on the role of television advertising in a digital world, Bhasin pointed out that India is largely an audio-visual society, which has not changed with the advent of digital. “Video is a part of our psyche. It’s just the way to disseminate video that has changed,” he noted. 

With growing efficiencies, wastage has reduced. Customising communication has always been the Holy Grail of advertising, which is now further facilitated by digital. With machine learning, such as Artificial Intelligence, Programmatic, the pace will only grow.

Here, Bhasin presented some statistics to showcase the growing internet usage in India. He noted that 400 million new internet users are expected to be added in the coming 3-4 years and a majority of these users will be on mobile. Bhasin also pointed out that not all of these users will be English-focussed. Thus, digital marketers cannot afford to underestimate the power of regional languages if they want to effectively reach and engage their customers. 

“The consumer is far ahead of the marketers and agencies, who have to catch up with what the consumers are doing,” Bhasin stressed. 

Bhasin wrapped up the session with an important statement when he said that the curve of TV and digital will converge in the year 2020. “The whole evolution will hit us in three years,” he predicted.


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