'It is very difficult to track an event and produce numbers'- Sam Balsara, MD, Madison World


Madison World is perhaps one of the most prestigious and long-standing advertising agencies that the country has produced. At the recent Pitch- Madison Advertising Outlook held in Mumbai, Madison revealed an exhaustive report on media spends and reach across categories such as television, print, radio, outdoor and digital. It was interesting to note, however, that even though ‘experiential marketing’ is globally blowing up as an advertising buzz-term there was no reference of it in the study.

If one of the oldest and largest advertising firms in the country is ignoring what is claimed to be the ‘fastest growing segment of overall marketing budgets for brands across the globe’ could this mean experiential marketing in India is small potatoes? We learn from Sam Balsara, Chairman & MD, Madison World... 

Why was ‘experiential marketing’ left out as a category in the Pitch-Madison Advertising Outlook?

The Pitch-Madison is largely perceived as a report for mass advertising. We have purposely not covered experiential media because honestly it is very difficult to track events and get an accurate number. ‘Accurate’ is in fact very far fetched, one would be considered lucky if he can get a reasonably close estimate where events are concerned. An experiential campaign could perhaps be traced from a sense of judgement of what brands are spending on it but that is not a very accurate way to go about. We have a very specific way of measuring returns from print or television media but with experiential there are several variables that pose a challenge when it comes to measurability. Therefore we did not feel right about presenting a rough estimate.

Is it because experiential is still at a very nascent stage in India?

I dont think so. I think India is in a good space at the moment. The industry is growing steadily in the experiential space. We are increasingly hearing of brands engaging in a lot of activity at malls, multiplexes, events, stage shows. It is indeed brands’ advertising budgets that are going into it whether its a brand activations or sponsorship of events.

According to the report, how do you rate experiential as a media choice for advertisers? 

Television is the best media when it comes to creating awareness amongst the masses. It can bring the best visibility to a brand at the lowest cost per GRP. Magazines don't do a very good job in this respect i.e creating awareness, however, they do a better job at talking to a smaller number of people, convincing them and finally driving them to purchase the product.

The cost of experiential marketing is relatively higher because curating a meaningful experience is always a cost intensive activity. But even though the cost per person at an event may be comparatively high, its impact is unarguably the strongest amongst all media categories.

Can you illustrate an example where a ‘personal connect’ with consumers was achieved through a mass media medium. 

A while back Marico had introduced a hair oil to prevent hairfall. To target its wide consumer base in south India the brand tied up with a popular magazine from the south and placed a product sample with each magazine copy and also supplied a pre-paid postcard where consumers could recommend the product to a friend. The friend then received that note along with a sample and two more postcards. This way the brand set off a social media campaign using a print medium and succeeded in building several loyalists.

How much are your clients spending on experiential? 

We deal with large FMCG brands and on an average their dedicated spends on experiential marketing would be under 5%.

Do you reckon the scenario is likely to change in the near future?

As the markets become more complex and competitive, I think mass media advertising will not be sufficient to meet the advertisers needs. Sooner or later we will have to supplement print, television or outdoor advertising with experience. One of our mantras is that brands need to augment exposure with experience and that is when they will truly make a meaningful impact on the consumer.

Tags assigned to this article:
experiential madison world Pitch-Madison sam balsara

Around The World

Our Publications