Starcom MediaVest completes operational merger in India; new MD takes reins

It was in May 2000 that a media monster was born. Starcom and MediaVest merged to create Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) which now ranks among the top three media services holding groups with global billings of $16.5 billion. Yesterday SMG announced the operational merger in India as well.

The year-long process involved the integration the media teams of three Indian advertising agencies - Leo Burnett India, Ambience D’Arcy and Orchard Advertising - all BCOM3 member agencies in India, and was completed on 1 July.

Alongside the merger, there was also a leadership transition effected. Andrey Purushottam, took over charge as managing director of Starcom in India from Praveen Tripathi who stays with SMG but moves to Detroit on an international assignment.

Purushottam outlined three fundamental principles of the agency’s future offering — accountability, integration and technology.

Elaborating on accountability, Purushottam said: “It is ironical that while media spends constitute the largest component of the client’s marketing investments, media agencies have not satisfactorily related this to brand deliverables like marketshare and volumes. We believe that it’s our joint responsibility to maximise the client’s return on his media investment, not just to deliver GRPs.”

Purushottam emphasised that the current merger was only one part of a growth process that Starcom had delineated as a means to expand operations. He said he saw the company's growth in the near term as being through organic processes, acquisitions, new initiatives and a greater thrust outside Mumbai. He termed Delhi, Bangalore, Calcutta, as areas where Starcom was looking to increase its presence.

Purushottam reinforced what Keith Moran, CEO, Starcom Asia Pacific, who was also present at the media briefing, said earlier about Starcom's commitment to technology. Moran said $35 million had been pumped into proprietary research. Purushottam said Starcom India will be marketing the global tools aggressively and investing over Rs 10 million in the next 12 months to "re-engineer and refine agency systems and operations."

Elaborating on the use of technology and the web in particular in furthering the growth of Starcom, Moran said Starcom Digital as well as Starcom IP would be leveraging web-based technologies to "compile and disseminate information and improve services."

Queried on the company's estimates as to growth prospects vis-?-vis the depressed almost recessionary market conditions prevailing Purushottam said the estimates for the current year 8-10 per cent. This compared favourably with the world average of 6 per cent, it was pointed out.

Starcom India currently handles the media accounts of Acer Computers, Amtrex Hitachi, Bajaj Sevashram, Balsara Hygiene, Bayer Consumer Products and Birla Sun Life, Dabur Health Care, Fiat, Heinz, Linc Pens, Parle Bisleri, Proctor & Gamble, Raymond, Swedish Match, Tata Infomedia, Toyota, Trent, VVF and Western Union.

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