Clients want us to navigate the entire consumer journey for the brand: Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, FCB Group

It is no longer enough for agencies to make good ads; clients also want them to move the needle in terms of business, deliver bang for the buck.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyJun 17, 2024 8:39 AM
Clients want us to navigate the entire consumer journey for the brand: Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, FCB Group
Dheeraj Sinha, FCB Group CEO, India and South Asia, highlighted, "Our focus is on doing great work for our clients, work that moves the needle in terms of their business, and is also the best in the world. It's not that we release ads in the awards season just so we can win something. It's our continuous endeavour to do great work for our clients' businesses, because we believe that creativity is an economic multiplier."

On June 14, 2024, FCB Group India launched FCB Now, a programme that brings together brands and platforms to develop new-age solutions. FCB has partnered with Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, Jio, Meta, ShareChat, etc., for this.

In a conversation with Storyboard18, Dheeraj Sinha, FCB Group CEO, India and South Asia, explained, “Today, clients want us to navigate the entire consumer journey for the brand. They're not expecting an agency to come in and just produce ads for them. They're expecting an agency to do top-funnel awareness, mid-funnel consideration, and bottom-funnel conversion across platforms, building content that’s native to those platforms. It's become more layered, and more complex.

Edited Excerpts

What do clients expect from an agency now, and how has brand building evolved over time?

When we launched FCB Now, we brought together platforms such as Google, Meta, ShareChat, Jio, etc., and our clients, to discuss how the marketing funnel has changed.

We found that most clients were looking at advertising with respect to the consumer journey, and it was not just about the brand. The earlier model was to have a brand, have a brand core, have a brand idea, and amplify that.

The big learning is about the platforms the consumer is present on. What is their mindset or mood on these platforms? How do we build content which is true to that platform, is true to the mood of that platform, and meets the brand narrative? So, if that's the way marketing is changing, then that's how the expectation from the agency is changing as well.

Today, clients want us to navigate the entire consumer journey for the brand. They're not expecting an agency to come in and just produce ads for them. They're expecting an agency to do top-funnel awareness, mid-funnel consideration, and bottom-funnel conversion across platforms, building content that’s native to those platforms. It's become more layered, and more complex.

How do you see AI changing the advertising landscape, and how are you using AI at FCB?

We've done work using AI for DBS Bank. We used machine learning and AI to create songs for the youth. Last year, we did a campaign for ITC with Shah Rukh Khan, where we used AI to say that anybody can feature with Shah Rukh Khan, using AI.

So, we've been using AI in various ways from a consumer point of view. We're also using AI internally. For example, a lot of our storyboarding is being done using AI. Some of the research is happening using AI, but I think that this is just play. I don't think AI has come to a level where there's serious usage of AI in our businesses. That’s yet to happen.

What are the goals of FCB Group, and how would that benefit the group and change the advertising industry as a whole?

If you look at FCB as a group, we have four agencies. We have Kinnect, which is the largest digital agency in the country. We have FCB Ulka, which is our strongest brand and has worked with clients such as Amul, Tata Motors, etc.

We have FCB Interface, an integrated creative agency, which works with Mahindra and Mahindra and has got a huge roster of brands. Then we have FCB India, fully integrated marketing communications company, which is one of the youngest companies in our portfolio. They work with clients such as Uber, Google, Pernod Ricard.

We would now be the largest, fully integrated creative company in the country. Within the four agencies, we can go from strategy to traditional creative, to digital creative, to CRM, to influencer marketing, to production — everything in one shot.

That's what clients are looking for. Clients are looking for an agency which can come manage the whole narrative and deliver business impact. So, that's the positioning for the agency.

We are here to solve the clients' business problems. We are here to solve human problems in the country. That's the cusp at which we exist as a brand and as a business.

This year, what do you think will be the major disruptors in the ad industry?

Disruptions don’t happen every year. Disruption in any category or industry happens over three, four, five years, maybe even a decade. I feel there are a couple of big patterns which have emerged over the years in our business.

During a discussion at the launch of FCB Now, the panelists said that a brand’s marketing team is held accountable for business. Therefore, agencies also have to be accountable for the impact on the business.

Hence, one cannot now be satisfied and say that ‘my campaign did well.’ It's important to be accountable for how you're impacting the client’s business. That's one big shift that’s happening. That's one of the biggest expectations. Clients are asking, ‘How are you helping my business?’

Then there’s the role of technology, of various platforms, the role of fragmented media. Because the consumer today is not just sitting in front of the TV. They start in the morning with Instagram, go on to YouTube, look at a billboard, watch connected TV in the evenings, and look at the smartphone multiple times. How the brand leverages this fragmented consumption is the other big shift.

The third shift is how to attract, retain, and train talent that’s able to think fragmented media, able to empathise with Gen Z, and think of communications in the context of business. We need talent which understands data, understands tech, understands influencers, and more. So, the kind of talent required in an agency has changed dramatically as well.

Which campaigns have you sent for the Cannes Lions, which is around the corner?

For me, awards are a byproduct of the work that the agency does. We never chase awards, though we like them.

Our focus is on doing great work for our clients, work that moves the needle in terms of their business, and is also the best in the world.

It's not that we release ads in the awards season just so we can win something. It's our continuous endeavour to do great work for our clients' businesses, because we believe that creativity is an economic multiplier.

We have a couple of entries at Cannes this year. We have something on HDFC Bank’s Vigil Aunty. We have an entry from Amul. Then there's some work we've done for Stir magazine.

Cannes is a celebration of where the industry is headed. We have a strong delegation at the awards .

You joined FCB from Publicis Groupe in 2023. Could you touch upon the milestones achieved and the roadmap for FCB Group in India?

We've had a fantastic first quarter. We've had double-digit growth and are ahead of our commitment for the quarter. We won business to the tune of $2.5 million. And we've onboarded some great talent.

We've hired chief creative officers, in three of our companies from different agencies. Hence, there's a diversity of talent.

Earlier this year, we built our vision around growth, glory, and guts, and all our objectives and goals are aligned to that.

First Published on Jun 17, 2024 8:38 AM

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