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#Recap2018: #MeToo Changed the Dynamics of Industry for Better: Rajiv Dingra, WATConsult | Adage

31 Dec 2018

Hello Everyone!!! 

Rajiv Dingra, Founder and CEO, WATConsult gives a quick recap of 2018 with Adage India. Please scroll down to read the full article or click on the link below: 

Advertising is one of the most vibrant industries in India with never a dull day. The industry is growing in leaps and bounds and with advertising expenditure across mediums constantly on a rise. While a large number of markets are already seeing a saturation and the ad-ex has stagnated, India is at the cusp of a massive revolution with digital making inroads and brands looking to go beyond urban markets. Both these factors taken into account open countless opportunities for the industry. It is difficult to ascertain what will be the adex when Indian market gets saturated. 

As we approach the end of 2018, we look back into how the advertising industry fared in the year in terms of campaigns, advertising expenditure, expectations and predictions for the forthcoming year. There is no doubt that 2018 has been extremely vibrant with several global developments like #MeToo, Piyush Pandey taking reins of Ogilvy Worldwide’s Creative Leadership, Strong Run at Cannes and several path breaking campaigns. 

AdAge India spoke to several advertising industry personnel and rising stars at the agencies to know more about how the industry did in 2018. Here is what Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WATConsult thinks about the year gone by.

Q. Which was your favourite ad in 2018 and why?
From our own work it would be the #PowerlessQueen campaign because it was conceptualized and executed in a very interesting way. It was a brilliant piece of work. The campaign got recognition nationally and internationally, as it won a Grand Prix in Prague International Awards and also won many awards across the world in Clio, Lisbon International Awards, Spikes Asia, Adstars along with a shortlist in Cannes Lion. 

From work done by others I believe the Kotak ads with Ranveer Singh are not only effective in nature but also passed on a social message. 

Q. According to you, what was the most interesting thing that happened in Indian advertising industry in 2018?

I wouldn’t call it interesting but the most impactful thing was the #metoo movement which shook the entire industry up and definitelychanged the dynamics of how things function within the industry for the better.

Q. How do you think Indian advertising industry did in 2018, in terms of spends, creatives, awards and controversies?
In terms of controversies it was a big year with #Metoo. But beyond that in terms of spends, I would term this to be an average year and we would hope for a better year in 2019. On the creative front while we dropped in number of metals at Cannes Lion, we did see some really great work, especially ‘Blink to Speak’ and ‘Sindoor Khela’. Our own work #PowerlessQueen won awards at every international award show as well. 

Q. According to you, which were the top 5 spending categories in 2018. And what are your predictions for 2019: - Top five categories of ad spends?
Mobile Handsets, FMCG, BFSI, Consumer Durables & E-commerce. And I believe top 5 categories will continue to be on the similar lines in 2019 with the addition of election spending adding to it. 2019 should also be a big year for OTT players and I foresee good amount ofbudgets being deployed there. We will see a further growth in programmatic advertising spend as well.

Q. How was 2018 for your agency and the advertising industry?
I think 2018 was our best year yet. We delivered on our goals of revenue and recognition. We won digital mandates of clients like Dominos, Riso, Royal Rest, Tata motors, to name a few and also won awards across the globe. We have been growing at the rate of 50% year on year. We were fortunate enough to be shortlisted in Cannes Lion this year which made us the first specialist digital agency to ever be shortlisted from India. We also added many more ‘firsts’ by winning the Grand Prix at Prague International Awards and two Golds at Epica Awards (where we were the 3rd largest agency to have maximum wins), then we shined in Shorty’s New York and DMA Echo Awards Vegas too. We also won bronze metals across Clio Awards, London International Awards and Lisbon International Awards. In the APAC region we won metals in Spikes Asia, Tangrams and Smarties APAC.

So all in all we broke the glass ceiling when it comes to Digital Work from India winning at Global awards.

Q. What according to you was the biggest highlight in the digital world?
I believe clients making digital a top priority is the biggest highlight of 2018. I do foresee this only growing with Digital growing at 30%+ year on year growth and expected to be 1/4th of the total advertising spend pie by 2021.

Q. How did the Ad industry in India perform this year after the impact of GST and Demonetisation mellowed down?
I would term this an average year for the Ad industry. In general the global advertising industry saw a slowdown and while that didn’t impact India much we had our own set of challenges. Demonetization and GST have definitely had an impact last year but this year their impact was reduced considerably. Still we did see some retail brands struggling due to its impact.

Q. Do you think platforms such as Facebook, Google, others are out of the woods when it comes to utilizing user’s data? 
Surely, Google and Facebook are not out of the woods completely though, I do see them taking strides to ensure users data is secured inthe best possible manner. Over all Google and Facebook dominate 70% of all digital spends in India, followed by OTT players like Hotstar and Publishers like Times network.

Q. Which medium of advertising got the lion's share this year and which medium lagged behind?
TV Advertising continues to dominate the total advertising market though in terms of growth digital continues to be almost 3 times faster growing than other mediums.

Q. We saw a lot of names being called out as a part of #MeToo movement in 2018. What is that agencies need to do to improvethe state of affairs when it comes to empowering women at their workplace?
I think culture is something that’s undervalued in a people business and the agency business is where people play the most important part. Culture drives behaviour and if an agency culture is not taken seriously or allowed to be influenced by few miscreants then that destroys its entire reputation. What #MeToo has done is taught everyone a this hard lesson which will be hard to forget soon. I do believe agency heads are taking their culture very seriously and are ensuring they provide a safe and encouraging environment that empowers women.

Q. Do you think India managed to follow the global pace in marketing this year? 
Yes and no. We did well it came to the big items on the list which is video content and use of social media. But on the creativity front and use of technologies like AI, AR, VR and Voice we lag behind global pace.

Q. You won nearly 50 awards this year, does that give you an edge over your competitors when it comes to winning mandates?
Yes it’s been a great year for us. Not only have we won more than 50 awards almost 60% of them have been at global stage. We have heard from clients across the world showing interest to work with us and yes many Indian clients too have appreciated our work and have shown keenness to do path breaking work. 

The challenge for us now is to raise the bar from where we are now.