“The Resilience Story: India and The World” by Nazia Alvi Rehman
By Ojas Singh
Mumbai. : An Online webinar was conducted by the Exchange4media, a one stop destination for all information related to media across the industry. In which Ashish Bhasin, CEO APAC and Chairman India, Dentsu, interacted with Naziya Alvi Rehman, the mediator on the theme ‘The Resilience Story’, in terms of India and world.
How much has the second wave impacted the Dentsu and Apac in India? How did you cope as a company?
No doubt the second wave of coronavirus has left devastating impacts on the life of the people. Particularly in the second wave, India was a little ill prepared possibly in every known sector. Indians were at a stage where there was a sense of feeling of helplessness. Each consecutive day, the situation got worse and the newspapers and internet were full of gloomy news. Even though India was running vaccination and sanitization work, but it was too late. More or less it was a matter of survival.
Nevertheless as the peak of the coronavirus pandemic got over and cases started dipping each day, the devastating impacts of the second wave started mitigating, thanks to accelerated vaccinations throughout the country. Hope the normalcy comes back to its way.
Further turning to the topic of business, he emphasized that the impact on business was definitely bad, but not the worst as he thought it would be considering the number of cases as well as death India was witnessing in the second wave of coronavirus. Possible reasons for this could be the availability of vaccinations throughout the country and a previous experience of the first wave. However this applies to each country worldwide, such as China, Taiwan or Australia. Economy was definitely disturbed due to coronavirus but on the other hand vaccination drives in respective countries did raise a ray of hope in people’s lives. He wasn’t too optimistic to say that one day India will witness V-shape recovery but gradually things will get better. Further he pointed out the good signs coming from the monsoon this year. As India is an agrarian economy, hence, monsoon has a broader impact on the overall economy and which seems good so far.
2020 was bad for most Agencies. Further Dentsu announced Structural Reform, what were they about?
On reacting upon the question he said “Year 2020 wasn’t good for any company in general”. Hence, the Dentsu wasn’t an exception. But it soon announced structural reforms for mitigating the impact of coronavirus. The first thing it went through was to restrict the service to just 6 global companies and to a few local companies, which earlier used to hold over 160 companies across the world. He signaled the transformation as a positive approach and it did alleviate the Dentsu conditions in the market. Further he emphasized on the importance of transformation within a country in order to achieve progress.
What was the concept of Cost Saving by Dentsu? Was Cost saving a consequence of growth?
Reacting to the question he said “all the companies across the world were facing slowdown.” Hence, Dentsu thought of transformation and of which cost saving was a little part. We carried out restructure in terms of limiting the number of companies.
Growth doesn’t come from cost saving, but it does come from good going business. True meaning of growth is growth in revenue and growth in business. Dentsu also started giving premium service to its clients and in return it charged a premium service fee.
Which Market has been more resilient? How you will see India in that list.
Markets like Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore were the least impacted due to the coronavirus. China could be an extraordinary example in terms of resilience, as we know it was the very first country to be hit by coronavirus and henceforth it faced economic halt at a time when the whole world was alien to coronavirus. Nevertheless, China was also the first country to roll back to full throttle in terms of economic growth and even it has been showing good percentage growth in terms of GDP in previous quarters.
In terms of India, it definitely faced the worst impacts of covid pandemic and which had even greater intensity in the first wave. However as vaccinations gear up it will start showing better results day by day and further festive seasons will bring the full throttle growth back.
Do consumer sentiments of the second wave hurt its upcoming festive season?
India is a large country with a large youth population. Consumer sentiments will hurt but not the way it hurt in the first wave, as this time we didn’t go for complete lockdown instantly. A lot of economic activities kept running which at least guaranteed the employment generation of a significant ratio of people. However there is least probability that India will show negative results in terms of economic growth. Indians are more resilient, who have faced the worst impacts, and however its 1.4 billion population will have a comeback not instantly but gradually through a process. Further Indians have a good hold in international markets in terms of IT and few other fields with a global share of 60 companies which would be a favour in terms of economic growth.
The sort of signs India is giving, including increased consumption of electricity and other macroeconomics factors, India will definitely be way better in the upcoming 10 years.
What will be your advice in terms of opportunity for advertisers in media in the post pandemic world?
The biggest opportunity could be it passed through the worst and everything went to work from home in video calls and meetings etc. Back to work to normalcy would be a process but not an overnight switch. Efficiency should be furnished and further the saved money should be invested into transformation areas such as e-commerce and digital media. In the case of India, it did way better than expected on an online platform. Digitization and its continuous transformation would be a key to growth.
We have a quality of talent among the country people and that talent has to be curated and further digitization has erased the geographical boundaries. It should be seen as an opportunity.
Concluding the session, Nazia asked, “How Dentsu handled its employees and their families who were affected by pandemic”?
Reacting to the same, he said “our global companies ran a donation campaign specifically for India ”, further Dentsu bought health insurance for its employees for monetary support during their sufferings and we tied up with several hotels for accommodating our employees out of work.