Brands Cannot Talk From The Pulpit Anymore – D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, Pepsico India


The India Chapter of International Advertising Association (IAA) announced the launch of a new property – IAA Retrospect and Prospects. The event debuted at the The Westin Gurgaon, on January 22, 2014 at 6.30 PM, and had D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo India, presenting a 60-minute review of the highs and lows that were experienced by the marketing, media and advertising practitioners in the last year.

Holding centrestage was D Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo India, who presented an hour-long review of the key marketing trends that he saw in 2013, and the lessons for 2014. An eloquent speaker with a sharp analytical mind, Shivakumar held the packed banquet hall at The Westin Gurgaon spellbound. The marketing, media and advertising practitioners didn’t go back disappointed.

Shivakumar began with a retrospection of all the key challenges faced in 2013. But the thrust of his analysis was on how smartphones and mobile internet have created a major force in the market – the Collective Consumer Voice. “Earlier, brands sat on a pulpit and dictated to the consumer what he should like. Marketers said the consumer is king, but the king was always manipulated from the pulpit. Smartphones, mobile internet and social media changed the entire dynamics forever in 2013. First it was a voice, which quickly multiplied into a ‘collective consumer voice’. Brands cannot talk from the pulpit any more. The Collective Consumer Voice can kill a brand in no time if marketers do not respond in time.”, said Shivakumar. He shared many aspects of social media including a film made by crowdsourcing funds to make the film.

Analysing the trends in advertising budgets across key markets in the world, Shivakumar expressed confidence about the immense growth potential of the Indian advertising market in the next 10 years.

After his retrospection of 2013, Shivakumar moved to the prospects for 2014. He saw the 2014 General Elections in India and Indonesia as among the biggest events this year globally, which presented many opportunities. Richard Branson’s space tourism project schedule to kick-off in 2014 will be another big event of the year, he said.

The projected positive growth in every region of the world for the first time since 2009 was termed as one of the biggest opportunities for marketers this year. Shivkumar talked about how American managements have “rediscovered their mojo” and why America would be contributing more to global growth in 2014 than China in terms of absolute GDP growth.

Shivakumar left audiences with five thoughts. He spoke about how strategy, tactics, commoditisation and execution play big roles. Shivakumar cautioned, “Too many marketers mistake tactics for strategy. That doesn’t work.” Power of the medium was the second point made by him with a message for senior leaders of the industry to bury their differences and look at consolidating the advertising industry. Use of celebrities was the third point. He highlighted in his fourth point that India is in consumption economy mode not in penetration economy. To enhance the consumption economy, Shivakumar emphasised the need for strategic collaborations.

Shivakumar’s final point was on CMOs and the need for them to change their role as per the fast changing times: “The die has been cast, the playing field has changed, CMOs also have to change.”

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