Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

AdEX growth 2-3x in India as compared to global: Adam Gerhart, Mindshare's Global CEO

Adam Gerhart, Mindshare's global CEO, on the India focus, winning the Media Network of the Year title at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Disney offloading TV assets, and more

Published: Jul 20, 2023 02:02:26 PM IST
Updated: Jul 20, 2023 03:24:58 PM IST

AdEX growth 2-3x in India as compared to global: Adam Gerhart, Mindshare's Global CEOAdam Gerhart, GroupM-owned Mindshare’s global CEO

Adam Gerhart, GroupM-owned Mindshare’s Global CEO is visiting India after four years and his visit comes on the heels of Mindshare’s historic win at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. The agency picked up Cannes Lions Media Network of the Year Award for 2023, a second win in four years. The agency won the title in 2019.

Mindshare also won a Grand Prix in Media which was awarded to #TurnYourBack, a campaign created by Ogilvy and DAVID, with Mindshare, for Dove. “It feels immensely gratifying and humbling at the same time. This year, we had 99 shortlists, 33 medals across 13 countries and for us it was about innovation but also innovation with impact and we saw those two things come to the forefront, much of it because of the work that was done here in India."

AdEx growth

Speaking about his India visit Gerhart said it is a whirlwind tour packing Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru in four days before returning to New York. But he is excited about the India market. "We are seeing growth that we haven’t seen in years. When I look at the growth rate from ad expenditure perspective, it is 2X to 3X in this market as compared to what it is as the global norm.”

Gerhart adds, “We haven’t changed our forecast for the second half of 2023. We are still predicting 5.9 percent growth for the full year. But make no mistake, there is a certain degree of scepticism because there is a certain amount of volatility whether it is from supply chain issues or whether it is from socio economic perspective. We are watching it incredibly closely."

India ambition

But, given the promise that India has shown, Amin Lakhani, CEO, Mindshare South Asia, shares that Gerhart has clear expectations set out for the India business of Mindshare. “We have crossed the top 10 markets for Mindshare globally and Adam’s wishlist is to make it the number 2 in the next two years."

Lakhani shares that the focus area for Mindshare India is to dial up the play on digital transformation. “Within this there are three key areas. One is data consulting, the second one is e-commerce and third is to step up acceleration on performance marketing and the fourth is building a centre of excellence for influencer marketing,” says Lakhani.

Also read: 'Influencers need to become professional, organised and know the law': ASCI CEO

Gerhart said that Mindshare is cognisant of the fact that the media and advertising landscape is going through a lot of change and he feels the best way forward is to leverage the strength of the entire network under WPP.

“Fundamental to our future is our ability to work with a multitude of partners. Clients are finding complexity in their own businesses and how they are trying to drive their own growth. The last thing that they want is more complexity. They want a one-stop shop where we can create customised teams with the best talents from the best agencies with the most appropriate skill set to solve their business challenges. So if we build teams around business challenges, not scopes or people or around agency agenda, then we are finally able to solve complex business challenges on behalf of our clients."

On Disney

Speaking about the shift in the media landscape and also commenting on Disney CEO Bob Iger opening the door to selling the company’s linear TV assets, Gerhart thinks it is a bigger shift from something that is far less accountable to something that is more quantifiable. "And I think as long as TV keeps evolving in that direction, there will always be a role for it. The way in which it is consumed, the devices on which it is consumed, that’s what’s changing.” While talks are still in the early stages, the possibility of Disney offloading its TV assets in India could have a significant impact on the Indian TV industry. The move could reshape the competitive dynamics and open doors for new players to enter the market.

Also read: More live sports, regional content: OTT in India is just getting started

However, it remains unclear which options Disney might pursue and how that would affect the existing content offerings and distribution strategies.

Giving us an insight into the India implication of this, Lakhani says, “They are a large player and a large client. But as we move in this VUCA world, all the models are being questioned and people are looking at newer ways of winning in the future, I think the news that has come up will only encourage more and more participation from the wider ecosystem. Because it is about looking at joint-venture and partnerships in that sense and holding on to that strategic play.”

Catch full exclusive interview on Storyboard18 on CNBC-TV18.