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Agency

Digital native

Why did you choose not to have a central office for BPG Maxus?

We’re not doing it as a fad or anything. We have been the fastest-growing agency for the past four years and we’d like to carry on with that kind of momentum for the years to come. We have a certain game plan, with which we can achieve that growth, and that includes having our global team lead that growth. Where people are situated shouldn’t matter, as I do not believe everyone needs to be physically [present] in one place. I think it can be dangerous because you will be disconnected from the markets.

We call ourselves a global network with local agencies. Effectively, it means we do like to have a global point, but in media, everything takes place at the local level. We want to make sure that we are in a position that is flexible enough to maintain that. So, currently, I’m in Mumbai, while my CFO is in Singapore and my head of talent is in Delhi. My chief information officer sits in the US and my regional CEOs are based in Milan, New York and so on. We let our plans dictate how we move forward.

What is Maxus’ ratio between local and global clients today?

Right now, we are much more in favor of local clients. The range will probably be 75 percent to 25 percent in local versus global.

We seek the type of clients that are global businesses, but operate locally by markets, such as L’Oreal. Other clients are more centralized and they require more structure, like what we do with Johnson & Johnson.

In the past year alone, we had more local and sub regional wins, which is growing business more organically. That said, we are also a little reluctant to add structures, which is a result of adding
new clients.

 

There’s a renewed trend of mergers and acquisitions in the communications industry. Is this a good thing in your opinion?

From a media perspective, the obvious benefit of mergers is scale. The minute you’re leveraging more client money, you can probably extract better deals.

But I know how difficult it is to consolidate volumes in a manner in which you can have a positive influence. It has to be a win-win situation for everyone. Mergers can be very powerful, but can also be very difficult, because all of the agencies within the network will need to work towards clients’ advantages and that can be tricky. The ability to have the power of one, or the band of brothers as we call it in some markets, is not easy.

I am curious to see how the acquisition of Aegis by Drive and the Publicis Omnicom merger will play out.

 

Are you hoping to win some of the clients that might not stay with the new Publicis Omnicom organization? 

I actually hope that the clients will start respecting that different agencies from the same network can be very independent. Over time, I am also hoping that conflicts over certain issues will recede. We have our independence from WPP Group, so we don’t have to sometimes face conflict of interest.

 

Can you share your views on the state of the market today?

I used to worry about the market when I had a role at GroupM. Now, in Maxus, we are pretty small in a number of markets, but, at the
same time, there is huge room for growth, unlike larger agencies.So to answer your question from a Maxus standpoint, I don’t worry about the market. I obsess a little more about what should be our differentiator.

 

And what could that be?

We call our philosophy ‘Leaning into change’, which is recognizing that we live in a volatile world. The concept of digital has created the most amount of uncertainty in the market. There is a fair amount of complexity that clients don’t know how to handle. They’re looking for agencies that can decode this complexity with simplicity.

When we say we lean into change, we aim to grow the brand in today’s changing world. For example, I think people who talk about ‘digital specialists’ are old fashioned, because for us, digital is integrated into everything we do.

 

Does the fact that Maxus is young make it a ‘digital native agency’?

BPB Maxus is going to be five years old this year. We like to think young.When I look at other agencies, they use a lot of past practices. In our case, we are a little more responsive to change.

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