Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An Interview with Ms. BabitaBaruah, Vice-President & Client Services Director, JWT Delhi

Ms. Baruah started her career in advertising at JWT Kolkata in 1996 and after 14 years of rich experience in the industry, she holds the same passion that she did as a starry eyed beginner. She was the VP and Business Head in JWT Mumbai office till July 2010, where she managed a challenging portfolio of finance, beauty, lifestyle and food. Currently she heads Unilever’s Sunsilk and Rin brand in South Asia and leads the Nokia business in JWT Delhi. She is the recipient of the prestigious Chevening Scholarship and believes that change is the only constant. She shares with us her views on current trends of advertising and her experience in the industry.

1. Please share with us one particular incident in your life which you feel proved to be a turning point in your life?
The Chevening Scholarship in 2004 for Women and Leadership in Management was such an incident in my life. This scholarship is provided by the British Council and is extremely competitive as it is open to all women professionals in India. I was one of the 12 shortlisted for this and it has been a big turning point for me.

2. Which campaign is the most memorable to you in your entire advertising career and why?
The Times of India Lead India work was definitely the most memorable one. It was not just advertising, it was a movement we created. It showed us that advertising still has the power to move millions, positively.

3. Rebranding is the flavour of the month. What is your take on it? How do companies ensure that a makeover turns out to be a success?
Rebranding has become very important in the world of digitalization and globalisation, which makes brands increasingly vulnerable by expanding the playing field at a global level. Brands need to remain contemporary in order to sustain themselves; they do not have the luxury of aging with time.
Companies need to be clear on the repositioning ideology or the end objective before embarking on a rebranding campaign. It is always a juggle between retaining the current values and elements that work and dropping those that don’t. Makeover success depends on consumer understanding and the ability to decide on a rebranding campaign that takes the brand to the next level.

4. What does a client look at when the initial pitch is made for a deal? How do you ensure that the deal is yours?
Clients look at strength of the strategy and the creative prowess. We ensure that we win by presenting our strategic take on the brief, our creative solution and most importantly, our credentials that have made us the leading agency consistently over decades.

5. When creating an ad, you may not always be comfortable working according to the client specifications. Many clashes are bound to come up. How do you strike the balance between the client side and your team, and ensure that it is the best ad that makes its way into the market?
(Smiles) This is the stress of the job. The pull and the push of client and the creative team is an everyday challenge. There is an eternal debate between what is “clutter breaking” and what “works for the brand”. Yes there are clashes every day. The art of a good servicing person is to make both sides see reason by focussing on what’s right for the brand overall.

6. ‘Advertising industry is the best training ground for India’s marketers’. What is your take on this statement?
I would put it as “one of the best” and not necessarily “the best”. Having said this, I would urge every brand manager to go through an extensive agency induction to understand the creative process. It is important to realise that we are about thinking and creativity and not about churning output to meet timelines.

7. What do you think is the future of the advertising industry with social media and online marketing gaining more impetus?
Agencies are gearing up for social media and the online media by developing their own specialized cells and units with experts from such fields. Every agency person should also be fully aware of the fact that this is the future and not just a small budget allocation as it is now, for some brands. We need to “think digital” and not just execute.

8. What would be your advice for a student who is looking at a career in advertising?
Be creative. Think out of the box. Get ready to work long hours and have a rollercoaster ride of working on creating conversations that make a product a brand.

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