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MRUC's Roda Mehta issues rejoinder defending IRS 2002

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MUMBAI: MRUC Technical Committee chairperson Roda Mehta has given a rejoinder to WPP marketing communications South Asia CEO Andre Nair's recent remarks about IRS 2002 that were made during the course of an interview he gave to indiantelevision.com.

Mehta's rejoinder is reproduced below in full:

During my recent visit to Mumbai, I had an opportunity to read the two interviews (on indiantelevision.com) featuring the comments of Andre Nair and a response from Amit Ray. I was deeply saddened to read the intemperate and ill-informed comments on the IRS, necessitating a rejoinder. It is obvious that Andre is commenting on hearsay.



When Andre and I sat next to one another at the recent Abby Award ceremony of the Advertising Club of Bombay, he mentioned that he had been asked to chair the Technical Committee of the NRS. I wished him well ...and continue to do so.



In a spirit of healthy respect for each other's efforts on industry work and as an independent user of media databases, the MRUC had invited him to the launch of Round 10 of IRS on 29 April 03.

The letter of invitation, which I suspect he has not read, stated that the presentation was for the full year of 2002. So his comment that "the IRS full report is not out yet" is not correct. The file viewer was released in a few days' time after launch presentation. Given that not a single person from the WPP group of media companies was present that day, I guess there was no way he would have known that.



For someone to say "the IRS Report is a bungled thing and I am not the only person to say this" suggests he has personally studied the IRS carefully and has the affirmation of his colleagues and the market to make this statement. Sadly, neither Andre nor the senior members of his team have given MRUC the time of day to even view the IRS, while representatives are sent for attending meetings for audience measurement for much smaller single city media projects.



All surveys, by their very nature, are sample surveys and are not censuses. To claim the superiority of one over the other requires detailed knowledge. I am afraid that neither Andre nor the heads of MindShare or Fulcrum have even exposed themselves to the IRS product, despite several attempts made by the MRUC.

When Andre mentions that their "own validations have found superiority of the NRS on a key parameter - data consistency", I wonder if Andre has checked this out personally, given the past history of these two studies?

Just to clarify with just one instance, the NRS 2000 had placed the readership of Dainik Bhaskar at No.5 with 74.5 Lakhs (7.45 million). For the same period IRS 2000 ranked Dainik Bhaskar at No.1 with a readership of 109 lakh (10.9 million) readers. Later in 2001, NRS declared Dainik Bhaskar's readership at 119 lakhs (11.9 million), a jump of 45 lakh (4.5 million) readers in one year!! Nothing on circulation or market dynamics suggested that one publication could generate so many readers during this period! Perhaps, Andre would like to check this out?



Andre's explanation of the IRS being bungled was its "inability to answer or evade certain questions at their result presentation". If Andre had been there, or anyone else from his companies, he would have learnt that during the presentation, it had been clearly mentioned that there had been an error in the press release in which Hindustan had been unfortunately mentioned as Hindustan Times.

Being in a competitive market, Andre would know the licence that would be taken by an affected party to blow a minor issue up. So when "they ..... said they would issue a corrigendum, which the dictionary defines as an error to be corrected", I have no doubt that Andre will have the generosity to condone a typographical error.



Skirmishes between competitors is normal in the market place. But for impartial heads of organisations, endowed with the responsibility to give their clients the best advice, independent of any partisanship, it saddens me greatly to read the interview published on your site.

To even suggest that one of the finest clients any agency can have, namely Hindustan Lever, is only ironically associated with the IRS as a bulk buyer, is indiscreet. If there is one thing HLL does know, it is value for money! India's first AOR was created for HLL, which Andre has inherited.

When I was told that Andre was to head the media companies of WPP in India, I had welcomed the news and said to many that this was good for the group as to Andre the quality of inputs were as important as the integrity of his media recommendations.

I was delighted that a participant of an Asia Pacific Ogilvy & Mather Training Programme, where I had been invited as faculty, was to hand over the Distinctive Recognition Award to me at the recent Abby Awards by virtue of his responsibility as the industry's largest trustee of client media budgets.



I know he will not break my faith in him.



Roda Mehta, chairperson, MRUC Technical Committee

Also read:

"If I'm not going to get more audiences, why should I pay more?" WPP marketing communications south east Asia CEO Andre Nair

"The remarks of WPP Media executives on the IRS must be disregarded!" MRUC technical committee member Amit Ray on the Indian Readership Survey 2002

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