To keep pace with the changing market dimensions, the Nepali advertising and marketing sphere has changed a great deal over the last few years. This has led to media and advertising agencies devising new strategies and joining hands with foreign companies. Last month, a major Nepali agency V-Chitra Advertising signed a strategic alliance agreement with Havas Media, the media arm of the French multinational marketing and communications company Havas, which operates in 125 countries. Havas Media offers communication, media strategy and management services to its clients all over the world.
Anita Nayyar, CEO of Havas Media Southeast Asia (SEA) was in Nepal to sign the strategic partnership agreement with V-Chitra Advertising. New Business Age caught up with Nayyar to talk about the features of the alliance between the two companies, situation of advertising and marketing in Nepal, and the problems and opportunities inherent to it. Excerpts:
What brings you to Nepal?
We have been looking for a partner in Nepal. I look after India and the South East Asian region, and Nepal is one of the countries where we don’t have a presence. So, we signed a strategic alliance contract with V-Chitra on April 29. I hope we can share our insights with each other and help the brands in the region.
Could you say something about Havas Media? How will the company work in Nepal?
Globally, we are present in over 125 countries. In the South Asian region, we have a presence in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and now in Nepal. Moreover, in the South East Asian region, we have a presence in all the countries. We have a robust presence in the Asia Pacific, South East Asia and South Asia. Vivendi Group is the principal owner of Havas and is the biggest media and entertainment company in the world. There are many companies which are the part of Vivendi Group. Universal Music, Gameloft – the largest mobile video games company, Daily Motion, StudioCanal and Canal+ are part of the Vivendi Group. So, Vivendi has all these assets. Today, for example, if I have to give a musical solution to a client in Nepal, then Havas can provide a solution with the help of Universal Music. So, that is the advantage Havas has. We have many assets in the media and entertainment industry, and we are among the top five agencies in the world.
How have the last six months as Havas Media Group’s CEO for Southeast Asia (SEA) region and India been like for you?
I have been working with Havas for the last 13 years. I was heading India and South Asia for a particular time. I am visiting all the markets in the South East Asian region to look at the market potential. All the markets are doing well and are self-sufficient, and operationally they are doing great, so the idea is not to disrupt. The idea is to go and find the avenues to grow because ultimately growth is essential to every organisation.
How do you see the media market of Nepal?
I think there is a lot that can be done in Nepal. The important thing is to send the right kind of content to the audience. Unfortunately, there is a lack of data and research in Nepal. Given the fact, media houses might not be sure of the target audience. I was having a conversation with a few clients in Nepal, and they mentioned that it is imperative to understand the behaviour and purchasing power of the audience. Also, from a media consumption perspective, what is the audience watching, reading or doing? It is necessary to know if they are in digital, print or television platforms. So, we have to look at all these factors. There is a science to it. Thus, the industry needs research; because you have to make sure the advertising money is not getting wasted and is reaching out to the right audience.
What are the opportunities for companies like Havas in Nepal?
There are two kinds of opportunities in Nepal. Companies like Havas can boost the market of Nepal. The growth of the market doesn’t necessarily mean the growth of international brands, but local brands will surely grow.
When the company helps the businesses grow, then it has a positive impact on the economy of the country as well. Secondly, international brands can grow in the Nepali market. Over the last couple of years, Nepal has been growing at a healthy rate. The country has left the massive earthquake behind and is moving in a positive direction. Given the positivity, international brands can gain from the market from a conversion consumer perspective. So, I think it is important to look at both aspects - of growing the local businesses and helping international companies grow as well.
How do you observe the digital market of Nepal?
The pace at which digital is growing in Nepal is not the same as other South Asian markets. Digital platforms have been growing exceptionally well these days globally. In India, digital is growing at around 35 to 40 percent year-on-year. I think other South Asian markets are growing really well. However, I think it is a function of many things. For example, the data charges are costly in Nepal. If some data companies enter the Nepali market, the data prices will come down automatically with competition in the market. When you look at India, it has one of the lowest data prices in the world, and it is because there are so many data companies competing with each other. For instance, Jio from the Reliance Group completely disrupted the market. So, if the data is cheap, the consumption of content becomes more affordable, because people will have access to the content. Also, it creates many opportunities to produce the right kind of content.
It also creates opportunities for using that content to connect with the consumer. In the digital landscape, the possibilities are enormous here. Also, once the country crosses these barriers, the growth will be seen. I think what India did in five years, Nepal can achieve in two years.
At a time when the digital sphere has become the prominent platform for marketing and promotion, how do you see the relevance of traditional Above-the-Line (ATL) and Below-the-Line (BTL) marketing techniques?
I think each medium and format has its own role to play. For example, in India, when our global clients come, they say, “India still has print?” It is because the global market is already digitised. We say print has its role to play because there is nothing better than print advertising when you are talking about topical advertising, information and call to action. When I watch a commercial on television, I will not dial the number provided instantly. However, when I see a commercial in print, the call to action is much faster. Television as a medium is for reach, building awareness and brand activeness. So, I say each medium has its role. It entirely depends on what you are trying to achieve from a marketing perspective. If I am trying to connect to the youth, I don’t need to go to a newspaper; I will go digital because today all the millennials live on their phones. If I have to connect to more than 50 persons, then I will have to look at their media consumption habits. In that situation, television, radio or paper would be better.
The scantiness of creative talent due to the higher rate of human capital flight from the country is often cited as a significant problem for the media and communications industry in Nepal? How do you think can they cope with this problem?
One organisation cannot solve this problem. I was talking to some people, and they said many students after school move out to foreign countries for further studies. I think many won’t come back because they find better opportunities in international markets. It is not like there are no migrations from other South Asian countries like India. However, people are coming back to India because of the government’s vision. Giving opportunities to people in the country is essential. Also, the country can tie up with top universities in the world which might halt the migration.