Ad market on the cusp of flight


The country’s advertisement market will expand quite rapidly in the next decade given the fast growing economy and consumer market, said an expert.

“Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and when an economy grows advertising grows at a faster rate,” Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-based Madison World.

Growth in advertising leads to growth in the economy, which in turn leads to growth in advertising.

Once the 160 million people of Bangladesh have the necessary purchasing power it will become a very large advertising market.

Balsara’s comments came in an interview with The Daily Star on the sidelines of an agreement-signing ceremony between Bangladeshi media agency Mediacom Ltd and Madison Media, a unit of Madison World of India.

As a part of the affiliation deal, Mediacom has become an affiliate of Madison Media. This will give the Bangladeshi company access to Madison Media’s name, tools and operating software.

The Indian firm will also train Mediacom planners to understand various issues.

Mediacom was set up in 1997 as an in-house agency of Square Group, one of the largest and most respected business conglomerates in Bangladesh. Within a short span, it grew into a full-service advertising agency.

Its clients include mobile phone operator Robi, steelmaker KSRM, mobile payment company bKash, multinational brand Bata, local company KONKA, and Square.

Madison World, a 28-year old diversified communication group, works in the area of advertising, media, business analytics, outdoor, activation, events, public relations, retail, entertainment, mobile and sports.

It employs over 1,000 professionals across cities in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Madison’s clients include Asian Paints, Godrej, Marico, McDonald’s, Raymond, Snap Deal, Times Television and TVS.

“Both Mediacom and Madison have certain common values. Since India is a very large market we have some learning and infrastructure which Mediacom Bangladesh could greatly benefit from.”

For Madison, the partnership will allow it to expand its geographic reach.

“It is only through experiences that one becomes richer and wiser and better equipped to face all the vagaries of today’s highly competitive world.”

Balsara said the days of trying to invent everything locally are over.

If somebody else has already gone through the painful process of inventing something, using it and perfecting it there is no point in another country or agency trying to go through the same learning curve when it may well be imported.

“That’s how they [Mediacom] can quickly ramp up their skill sets and increase their offering and service quality.”

Balsara started his work life in 1972. He has over four decades of experience in the media and advertising sector. He worked for Sarabhai, Cadbury, Contract (WPP) and Mudra before founding media buying agency Madison World in 1988.

The Economic Times Brand Equity Ad Agency Reckoner ranked Balsara as “India’s Most Influential Media Person” for the last 10 years. He is also the recipient of the Advertising Agencies Association of India’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

The advertisement market of India is Rs 60,000 crore, while that of Bangladesh is Rs 2,000 crore to Rs 3,000 crore, according to Balsara. As Bangladesh prospers, the country will become a huge market. “The advertising market will also grow phenomenally in Bangladesh.”

Balsara said the world has become very competitive. The competitive pressure on advertisers and corporate bodies is increasing by the day. “In such a situation the pressure on advertising agencies is also becoming intense. So, we live and learn every day.”

Digitalisation is going to transform the advertising and marketing. In some Western markets, digital advertising accounts now as much as 40 percent of the market. In India it is about 12 percent and in Bangladesh about 5 percent. “But it is very clear that digital is going to grow.”

He said digitalisation brings several advantages. One of them is it allows one-to-one communication. But electronic and print media offer one-to-many message, compelling the ad agencies to develop a common message for a vast number of people.

“I cannot customise one message for one person. In the days to come, digital will enable us to customise a message for each person.” When asked whether it would be bad news for print media, Balsara, 66, said there is no doubt that in the Western world print has suffered.

“But I think Bangladesh should look at India and take solace in the fact that print is still the largest medium in India actually and it is growing very well.”

“In those economies where literacy is low and print penetration is very poor, I think we have a long way to grow. The potential for the print to grow is still very, very high. You do not have to worry about digital taking away too much from print. I am sure print will be around for a long time to come.”

Balsara however said people in the print media should focus on content rather than on medium and should see themselves as news supplier instead of a print publisher.

In developing markets, print carries a very high credibility, he said.

“Print is sort of indispensible for new launches, announcements and for offers. For examples, print is invaluable for automobile launches and for banking and finance industries.”