Wednesday, May 9, 2007



Not prominent in the media, Prem Mehta, MD and CEO of Lintas India appeared briefly in the news this week for being inducted into the Ad Club of Bombay’s Hall of Fame. Earlier this year he was selected for the post of Chairman by the Board of Directors. He gives his first full-length interview to Hindustan Times as he speaks freely on how he evaluates success, the growth of the industry and how he pre-empts the future.

# On being inducted into the Ad Club of Bombay’s Hall of Fame.

It’s nice to be acknowledged and valued. It’s a good feeling for someone like me who’s not salient in the media.

#Evaluating his own performance

For the first four years after coming to the helm in `93 I was fire fighting in the midst of unpredictable growth and high attrition. We were losing two people a day as everyone entering the market picked our talent. This required me to do unprecedented things to survive and keep up growth. For one, I decided not to match the pay packets –up to four times the existing salaries- that competition was offering. I believed that this would be destructive and change relationships forever. Also, I believed that a commitment to a common cause had to keep people back. I instead explained our values to those who wanted to leave. In retrospect it was a good decision. What we got was a competent, well-trained management that sustained the growth and built the Lintas culture. A hard, painful route, but it proved right.

Also, I identified and trained talent within, gave greater responsibility. Training became integral to our culture. In the late `90s this led to effective consolidation and left us stronger.

# Stepping into Alyque Padamsee’s shoes and ‘corporatizing’ advertising.

We are very different people but we complemented each other. Corporatization of agencies started with the increase in scale. When I took over we were 110 people, today we are over 1500. We have grown from one agency to 17 businesses and revenues have grown by 15 times. From depending on 2-3 clients, we today have over 200. From accounting for 80 per cent of our business, HLL now accounts for 20. Twenty clients account for about 70 per cent of the business. We have a more balanced and therefore a less vulnerable portfolio. This was done very consciously as a part of a plan.

The client-agency relationship was also changing. They were no longer comfortable dealing with long-haired people giving them ideas. They needed sound, strategic, brand-building advice. I knew that post liberalization no standard management principles would work. Communication as a business would undergo a complete overhaul, the remuneration structure etc would change. This would have a ripple effect on how agencies would be run. The increasingly fragile nature of relationships with clients, personnel cost and the pressure on the income.

# So where did this stress show up?

Agencies started to fold up or selling off. The successful names of those days don’t ring a bell today. The agency had to upgrade the value of what it brought to the table. It had to come from integrated communication. So we started seeding new businesses. While most large agencies were hiving off media, we invested in it. Our media business today is on par with the best and contributes significantly to our revenues. More importantly, it serves the client. We have today become a one-stop shop. As traditional mass media became more expensive and less effective in its reach clients go for below the line specialists. So our attempt is to develop brand strategy that is media agnostic and then use the media it would require.

# Did you have to change your blueprint for growth anywhere along the line?

There have been course corrections but not in the macro sense.

#Where’s the industry today?

We are at a very critical crossroad. It is important for the industry to re-invent itself, seriously and urgently if it has to play a long –term role. It has to stop thinking of itself as a producer of TV commercials and stop getting its biggest kick from advertising awards.
Second, the quality of talent has been compromised. Good talent has fled from the industry.

(This interview appeared as the lead in Billboard, the weekly ad and marketing page of Hindustan Times in Nov `06)


“Driving them up the wall/ Iron Woman rules them all."
A friend of Indra Nooyi once re-wrote Black Sabbath’s Iron Man only altering the lyrics that bit to honour the electric guitar-loving lady. Prophetic action, it seems now, as Nooyi, 50, has been elected by the PepsiCo Board to take over as chief executive officer. She replaces Steve Reinemund, starting October 1, 2006 who will become executive chairman.

Putting a stamp of approval on her 12-year stint with the corporation, the Pepsico Board said in a statement: "We are exceedingly fortunate to have a leader of her caliber, vision and experience to take the helm. She has been instrumental to PepsiCo's solid direction and ongoing success and has the complete endorsement and support of the board." Reinemund summed up on a conference call with investors saying that "Her record of transforming PepsiCo speaks for itself, and she has been an invaluable partner and ally throughout my time as CEO.”

Nooyi herself said on the same call that she is “very excited and very humbled by her new appointment.” She gives full credit to her colleagues, especially Reinemund and Michael D. White, PepsiCo Vice Chairman and Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo International. She has worked closely with them and describes her relationship where “they complete each other’s sentences.”

Nooyi's current responsibilities will be divided between two PepsiCo veterans: Richard Goodman, 57, currently CFO of PepsiCo International, will assume the position of CFO for the corporation. Hugh F. Johnston, 44, currently Senior Vice President, Transformation, has been promoted to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Operations with added responsibilities of global procurement and IT. Both will report to her.
Known to be a determined achiever to anyone who has interacted with her, Nooyi helped engineer over $30 billion worth of deals in the past few years. She has played key roles in the Tricon spin-off, the purchase of Tropicana, the public offering of Pepsi Cola bottling group and the merger with Quaker Foods. In 1997, she prodded Roger Enrico, then CEO, to spin off PepsiCo's fast-food business. Nooyi was ranked #4 on Fortune Magazine's list of "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" in 2005.
This may have been expected but as Nooyi has said often in public forums "It is not easy up there. " Proud of her Indian origin- she is known to wear the traditional sari for several formal functions- Nooyi stands tall as an example for people who imagine they belong to disadvantaged groups.

(This article appeared on the front page of Hindustan Times in Sept `06. It contained the first quotes grabbed from an investors' teleconference by Ms Indra Nooyi after being announced as CEO, PepsiCo)



The media function in advertising agencies witnesses increasing consolidation and very safe careers suddenly face unexpected challenges.

"There is fear and apprehension of leaving a place where my equity is high and unquestioned; there is fear of the unknown on my next move…"
Jasmin Sohrabji, president, MediaCom, South Asia, - frontrunner in media research, on leaving MediaCom, the media company of Grey Global after 16 years.

Sohrabjee leaves the place she grew to recognize as home over the years she spent growing into one of the best-recognized media professionals in the country. She however faces a crossroad today as Grey Global was bought over by the WPP. MediaCom, by the sleight of fate now comes under a new management and will operate under WPP's Group M. If Sohrabjee stayed she would have been suddenly propelled into an environment that was entirely new with no one really to blame. She instead has chosen to opt out and discover the world outside that she until now didn't consider an option.

Consolidation in the world of media companies first happened in `88 when WPP brought the media business of JWT and O&M to form Mindshare. Back then Ketaki Gupte and Kalpana Rao, the two respective media heads had found themselves at bay when a junior was named the head of the new entity.

However the process has gathered momentum in the past one year when WPP almost bought out Rediffusion’s Mediaedge CIA. It was aligned under Group M and Divya Gupta, head for years now, faced the same dilemma. Two months back Universal McCann and Lodestar, the FCB Ulka agency merged to form Lodestar Universal. Fortunately perhaps, Universal was headless. And Shashi Sinha, Lodestar chief got the big job.

Even if some seem to lose out this consolidation process has become a necessity. Here's why. In the `90s the trend shot off as the consolidated entity had larger volume of business to negotiate with the media companies and could get negotiate better rates. Today, while the advertising industry is growing by more than 12 per cent annually, the advent of many new companies has led to competitive pressures for existing advertisers. Parallel runs the proliferation of media options and therefore a fragmentation of audiences. For instance more than 250 channels alone force advertisers to take calibrated decisions on their media plans.

All this makes the media function critical. And agencies have to measure up. On the one hand, there is a tremendous need to get more and better databases to keep up with changes happening in the country. Agencies need the software and tools which will run these databases and help to arrive at better media decisions. Then there's the growing need for quality people with the ability to analyze all the data and have the experience and good judgment to make evolved decisions. Both these requirements require critical investments.

Further there is a lot of experimentation required with emerging media like digital entertainment, mobile, retail. But they have to yet become self-supporting. "Unfortunately all this has to be funded by media agencies, operating at a revenue stream which for historical reasons, normally is between 2.5 to 3.5 per cent of advertising spends”, explains Sinha. Obviously there is a mismatch between revenues and required investments which can be sorted out with consolidation.
So while many may be losing their positions of strength, for others there have been opportunities. And when one window shuts, a door opens elsewhere for the much sought after media professional. For instance Divya Gupta moved to the ADA Group. And Sohrabjee who has several offers and options popping up says, "In all this there is a growing sense of optimism that there exists a world of opportunities waiting to be explored and exploited."
Consolidation and its effects are not new to the corporate world. But as M. Parameswaran, executive director, FCB Ulka says, "Organizations have to manage egos and mindsets when there is going to be a reshuffle." And the media and advertising industries have not recognized this need enough.


SHASHI SINHA, CEO, Lodestar Universal


The recent merger of Lodestar with Universal -both part of the IPG group- to form Lodestar Universal was a part of the consolidation process that is running through the media function in India today. Both were fine agencies doing well in India. Universal had a host of MNC clients like Microsoft, Intel, Johnson and Johnson to name a few. Lodestar had a slew of Indian clients like the Tata group, Amul, Mahindra and Mahindra amongst others. Now all this business belongs jointly to the new entity.

Besides this, in my mind the biggest gain has been access to each other’s talent. This is critical in an industry plagued by shortage of good people. We have had quality leadership and talent now available across all offices. Universal had historically a strong presence in Delhi and the combined entity has access to better quality talent which was not the case previously. This gain is true for Bangalore too where the agency played a strong role. Conversely Lodestar was very big in Mumbai and will provide tremendous stability to Universal clients too.
Next is our ability to ramp up our digital, entertainment mobile and retail offering. With a larger base in both business and talent, our confidence to make each of these business divisions successful goes up tremendously.
Last, though definitely not the least, Lodestar had a Labcentre which was doing cutting edge work in terms of tool development and analytics especially on Indian databases. Not only will Labcentre be available for all clients in India but also will be a resource internationally for both Universal and FCB global clients. Currently while the individual agencies did get international assignments they were a small contribution to the overall revenue. With the merger, we expect a dramatic increase in international assignments in the analytics area. I am certain that the day is not far off when Labcentre should contribute to more than 25 per cent to our revenues
In sum, in our experience consolidation will only improve our offering, which will benefit our clients. When they see further success they will, in turn, reward us more. As the table for better quality media services goes up, so does the reward and recognition. I think from this it is only natural that the whole industry will benefit.

Sohrabjee introduced the concept of light TV viewing to the Indian media industry. Her research on multi-set TV homes won three awards at the Emvies last year, including the Grand Emvie. She speaks to Billboard in an exclusive interview as she prepares to quit MediaCom that is now being aligned under Group M of the WPP Group, its new owner.

On why she is leaving Grey Global.

I joined Trikaya Grey 16 years ago, grew up in Grey and then helped build MediaCom. However, going forward there will be a change in management, and given that there will no longer be any emotional bond holding me to this place, this is the best time to evaluate all my options before I decide what next, and why.
On being seeing as a victim of the process
Only if my career takes a nosedive downwards from here on! Consolidation has forced me to re-think my options, but not my decision

On what makes a person stay on.

The realization that the people you enjoy working with, the person you admired working for and the culture you believe made you the person you are make you stay. When these things no longer exist, you then look at your work place no differently than any other options out there.

On how the process of consolidation is evolving.

It’s already evolved to a large extent. There are benefits and disadvantages to both clients and our people. Clients benefit from volume power and economies of scale when agencies are part of a larger network and costs of research, training, etc are shared. However, advertisers are well aware of their choice constantly being limited to a few large networks. From the people perspective, it’s the same. While there is more infrastructure and training investments, after a while the options to move within are limiting

On the future.

When I decided to leave, I thought I had two options-another agency or a broadcaster. One plays on my core skills, the other is a natural transition for many in my line. However, I have been introduced to many more options recently in related and unrelated sectors that heavily depend on the skill and experience I have, so now I am doing what I did very little of before…listening!

(This article appeared as the lead in Billboard, the weekly advertising and marketing page in Hindustan Times in Sept `06)

Indian ad professionals are in demand to lead businesses in other growing Asian markets.

What is the implication of the one-child policy on the value system of Chinese mothers regarding baby care?
Should we hammer out creative differences in the meeting room or take people aside and discuss it privately?
While Sanjai Srivastava, senior business director, Lowe is figuring out the former in Shanghai, Santosh Menon, general manager, FCB Indonesia is trying to understand what is the most sensitive option for the latter issue. Srivastava and Menon are not alone in learning and savouring the thrill of working in foreign markets.
In fact they represent the growing club of young, Indian ad pros who are being increasingly sent by their global networks to head operations or significant accounts in Asian countries. A trend that has caught significant momentum in the past one year has these managers go to markets ranging from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh and China in the neighbourhood to Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong further east. The move has meant growth, learning and overall upward movement in an exciting format. As the Indian economy booms, the Indian ad pros are in the spotlight for the working ethos and talent they can bring to the table. International recognition for its work at awards has helped immensely as the networks are looking this way for global leaders.
The Indian agency is becoming the rising star of its network and can command such appointments. Lowe India is one of the 11 "lighthouse" agencies of the network and is looked at for showing the way. Lowe India is among the top three agencies in its network on most parameters.
Also, there is clear ‘regionalization’ among clients who are getting out of country -centric marketing models. The agencies are mirroring this change. As Pranesh Misra of Lowe India explains, "As the managers at the client's end move from one market to the other, they seek out the ad professionals they worked with here."
Also, India is the center for advertising creation for specific international brands, for instance Unilever brands like Fair n Lovely, Surf Excel and Clinic Plus. Indian talent is hence being increasingly spotted and perceived as hard working, analytical with enviable adaptability. In India you learn to treat every region as a separate market so the learning is wide."

Not the last or least, they speak English. "We are both strong leaders and yet great learners", observes Vaishali Sarkar of OgilvyOne.
Says Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT, "Our training exposes them to MNC brands, a wide range of product categories and adapting to different time zones." Adds Kalpana Rao, talent director, O&M, “We see international exposure as a part of the career planning process for these senior employees.”
Credit goes to the senior Indian professionals who are running meritocracies and churning out these well trained young `uns. Harris says that this is akin to outsourcing of talent at a price point beneficial to international players.
However as these professionals are growing in strength this price gap is also closing. And that will be the next significant development.

(This article appeared as the lead in Billboard, the weekly advertising and marketing page of Hindustan Times in Sept `06)

It’s a dream come true for the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) that has been seeking legal recognition for the role it plays in regulating advertising in the country. A notification from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has passed an amendment in the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act that now formally gives the ASCI the legal right to decide whether an advertisement is fair to be aired or not on television.

The amendment reads: “No advertisement which violates the Code for self-regulation in advertising, as adopted by the ASCI, Mumbai for public exhibition in India, from time to time, shall be carried in the cable service.”

As first reported in Hindustan Times, ASCI had been asking for recognition of role. It proved with data its effectiveness in getting compliance from its members and wanted legislative powers to be able to enforce rules in cases of errant behaviour.
Says Ram Poddar, chairman, ASCI, "This has been a long standing request of ASCI and this ruling will help to make the advertising self-regulatory movement in India stronger and more effective."

The new-found powers place ASCI on par with its counterparts in the U.S., U.K. and EU that have powers to penalize a non-compliant offender. ASCI has now sought the support of the concerned associations such as Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to persuade the TV channels to adhere to ASCI's Code as well as implement the decisions of its CCC in this regard.
A voluntary and non-profit organization, ASCI was set up by a group of advertisers, advertising agencies, media etc., in 1985, with the objective of ensuring that all advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. All public complaints that come to ASCI are evaluated by its independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) that has 21 members,12 from civil society and nine from advertising practitioners.
“Advertising issues need such a body as no statutory regulation can legislate on the soft issues that come up in assessing advertising that is the product of strategic and creative inputs of a large number of people from the agency and the advertiser”, says Bharat Patel, chairman P&G.


Gimme more. That’s what the Advertising Standards Council of India is asking of the central government. What it wants is the status of an “advertising court” where it will have legislative powers. And with the ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Consumer Affairs behind it all the way, this will probably be a matter of just some time.

As it stands, the ASCI is a self regulatory, ad industry body. It has 240 members that account for two-thirds of all the advertising done in India. Any complaint against an ad being offensive or making false claims is processed. If upheld, the advertiser is asked to withdraw or make amends. While advertisers are not obliged to comply, so far, of the 1011 complaints upheld, 785 have.

The Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumer body recently used an ASCI ruling to get a favourable ruling in a consumer court against UB McDowell’s no 1. This indicates the status that ASCI enjoys. On its part, it upholds its lack of bias and ensures objectivity by having the biggest lot of members on its complaint adjudication board from civil society as compared to any other self-regulatory body (SRO) like the bar, medical or press council.

“Advertising issues need such a body as no statutory regulation can legislate on the soft issues that come up in assessing advertising that is the product of strategic and creative inputs of a large number of people from the agency and the advertiser”, says Bharat Patel, chairman P&G.

In India, there are three legal routes for the consumer: the consumer court for product and service related complaints, the common court and the MRTP court for marketers. It is also felt world over that no judicial system could cope with the issues arising in the matter of administering or regulating advertising. If so, it would simply delay justice by when the particular ad campaign may be over. An ASCI complaint is typically handled within six to eight weeks.

This is why SROs in the developed countries have legislative powers. In many countries, media and marketing companies have to be members and their advertising can be penalized. Non-compliance can mean referral to a higher, governmental body.

Now ASCI is asking for similar legislative powers on the line of the US-UK-EU model so that it has the claws to penalize a non-compliant offender. It suggests pre-vetting of ads for products or service categories that can cause serious health or financial loss like lotteries, liquor and tobacco.

Such an additional power will bring the Indian system on track with international trends and the consumer can rest assured that his genuine complaint will definitely have to be addressed. And that would be a cause worth advertising about.

(These articles appeared in the business section of Hindustan Times in July `06)


CHARUBALA ANNUNCIO (with inputs from Anusha Subramanian)

As India and China witness a steep growth in ad spends, the voice of the Indian ad agency rises in global pitches.

“Speak to your guys at Grey India…” This at first may seem like a routine statement made by an international client to his agency in China. But it covers a vast paradigm shift for the Indian agency and the Indian advertising industry. For this was a client telling the Chinese agency to follow the Indian template of the brand’s global strategy instead of shipping it from its American headquarters.

The world’s attention is riveted towards India and China, especially after the famed BRIC Report by Goldman Sachs. And advertising budgets are growing furiously in keeping with the economies. In India advertising already stands over Rs 11,000 crore growing at 10 per cent every year. China is much larger as estimated ad spends totaled over $15 billion (Rs 67,000 crore). By the end of the decade, Nielsen Media Research forecasts that China’s advertising market will become the second largest in the world, surpassing Japan. It was in the top five in 2002, around the same size as Germany and the United Kingdom.
It is imperative for every brand now to get the communication right in these markets. So no longer does it suffice to ensure a ‘local representation’. The Indian or Chinese agency has to be a strong, independent entity with international capabilities. Says Nirvik Singh, CEO, Grey India, “India & China are very much a significant part of a global pitch process today and global agencies need an equally strong agency representation in India and China that are aligned in culture, creativity, leadership and talent.”
Indian agencies have over the past three to four years witnessed an increased demand for their work, opinion, insight into their local markets. A few years ago, global clients would dictate their global campaigns. Today, these very clients respect the Indian agency’s local insights.

Says M.G. Parameswaran, executive director, FCB Ulka says that “Till now the importance of India and China depended on the product category being considered. This is now seen across most product categories.” Most global clients have now moved to looking at the brand’s core promise at the global level, leaving the communication to the local level. And since India and China are becoming increasingly important, these two countries are allowed to drive the regional campaigns. FCB Ulka is working on several such campaigns.

For instance, it did a film for the Compaq Presario campaign to push the brand into the home PC market. As the American home market is near saturation, the agency had to evolve its own strategy around the brand guidelines. The film was good enough for the client to take it to several south and south-east Asian countries.
Advertising may be made for the Indian market specifically, sometimes there’s an Asian strategy and at other times a single, global campaign. Some brands like say L’Oreal and Nokia use both local and global commercials in a market. “But the entire concept of global communication strategy is today based on a) a central think tank working closely with marketing think tank of the client no matter located in which country and b) a strong network to give local implementation capabilities”, says Subhash Kamath, CEO, Bates Enterprise,

This however spells caution also for Indian agencies after the initial euphoria. Local agencies cannot any longer rely on getting business because of their international alignment. Also, as Asia is critical to the global pitch, the network can lose the account completely if the agencies in India and China do not represent themselves well independently.
Also, in dollar terms ad budgets in India are still small though growing fast. For some electronics and telecom brands, India could account for over 15 per cent of the global ad budgets but is yet “a rounding error for most international companies, less than a month’s turnover for Microsoft” as Anil Ambani, chairman, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, pointed out at the golden jubilee talk of The Ad club of Bombay in 2004. Though the dollar yet goes a long way in India, the participation in the global business has to grow rapidly for the Indian industry to win a permanent place in the hall of recognition.

(This article appeared as the lead in Billboard, the weekly advertising and marketing page of Hindustan Times in Sept `06)
Who’s Afraid of ASCI?

While TV ads need to meet the code set by ASCI, no such rule applies to radio. As this emerging medium is not under the scanner, risqué and bold advertising flourishes.

Swapna sundari wearing maxi
Getting out of a yellow taxi
Walks into a club
Paagal ho gaye sab
Surprisingly she looked at me
And said
Is that a pen in your pocket Mister,
Or are you just happy to see me….

These are not controversial, cult Eminem lyrics or the foul expletives of the Pakistani band, ‘Zeist’ but the words of a radio ad for a fairly innocent-sounding Lexi pens. The man being addressed answers this question with “I am very, very sorry sexy, But now every pocket has a Lexi….”

Lexi Pens, according to the ad are de riguer in every pocket in New York. Besides being difficult to fathom why this fact is advertised in India, what’s really interesting is how the jingle hasn’t created a furore by now. If a corresponding commercial were to be on TV, activists and moral guardians would have long back found a summer job. There would have been a complaint filed with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and chances are the song would have to be altered.

TV ads are now under the scanner even more than before, given the amendment in the Cable & TV Act, that they have to follow the ASCI code. But radio seems top be a happy playground for risqué and politically incorrect humour. TV jungles and ads, mostly consumed by self-preoccupied teens and tweens or people looking for a sonorous relief to frustrating driving, haven’t yet got anyone’s heckles up.

Spend a few hours tuning in to radio and listen carefully to the ads. There’s a world of ideas and lyrics that would have been thrashed and objected to on other media. Objectionable humour or a laugh at disadvantaged, stereotypical groups is being used generously, perhaps to make up for the absence of the video element.

Take the following examples, for instance, of unsocial and politically incorrect ideas. The first is the ad for Pears Oil Control Soap. The ad features a boy seeking friendship with a girl who is not interested. The boy talks English like a “vernie” or vernacular if you aren’t cool enough to know that. He seeks Priya’s affections by saying “I waant to be ‘friend’ with you”. Priya of course gets impatient with him. The ad signs off saying that “chipchipey log” (sticky people) are as irritating as “chipchipee twachcha” (sticky skin). A parallel between the uncool and stickiness is drawn unapologetically.

And then there’s the other HLL ad for Sunsilk Gang of Girls site that highlights a social stereotype that women all over are trying to fight away. Introduced in the FIFA period, it shows what could be the significance of football terminology in the life of girls. Highlighting that “Girls are different”, the ad goes on to explain football terms. “Kick” is what you do to your boyfriend when he lands up late, “Pass” is what you do to bills you run up and “Goal” is when he actually gives you a diamond ring.

Humour takes yet a greater stretch of proportion by a channel ad that ran around the Independence Day. It asks a fellow, “Who composed the national anthem?” The fellow fumbles and umms and aaaws. He is then asked in the same rapid fire style, “Who composed Kajraa re kajraa re…?” This time he answers in a flash, “Shankar, Ehsaan Loy”. So what’s the message? That it is funny not to know simple, “patriotic” facts? Or is that current, popular music is of greater relevance? In either case such an ad on TV would have got a whole bunch of citizens excited enough to protest and probably a few editorial rips in newspapers.

Says Brian Tellis, founder Radio Active and an old radio hand,” Radio is a medium where you can paint pictures lot left to listener’s imagination”. It is powerful and hence can be used or misused.
However being the newest medium, it is perceived as small and no one is yet looking hard at it.

Says Sam Balsara, past president and Board member, ASCI, “ ASCI found a convenient handle in the C&S Act to contain TV advertising. But while ASCI watches every medium equally, no law is contravened if a radio jingle is found objectionable by us.”

The radio business is currently focussed on growth and expansion. The government has given out close to 300 licences in this second phase that will cover 90 cities. The industry is expected to grow in leaps and bounds. Radio ad spends, at the moment, account for two per cent of total ad spends in the country. Regulatory issues for content and for advertising will probably follow but much later.

But as it grows – radio is expected to grow exponentially in next 5-10 years according to a PwC report- these issues will gradually come in the spotlight. But until then, guess it will be, “bajaate raho…”

(This article appeared as the lead in Billboard, the weekly advertising and marketing page in Hindustan Times)