Saturday, December 3, 2011

Madhukar Kamath Talks About AdAsia 2011 and Social Media Initiatives

From October 31st to November 3rd, the national capital of India will be hosting Asia’s biggest business tycoons, leaders across the advertisement world, etc in a lavish desi style. AdAsia, the Asian Advertising congress is coming to the country after a gap of 8 years so Madhukar Kamath, chairman of the organizing committee of AdAsia 2011 and Group CEO & MD of Mudra Group will make sure it is grand and remarkable.
The gala event is already beaming up with its heavy weight speakers such as PepsiCo’s Indira Nooyi, Ram Charan, Harish Manwani, COO-Unilever & Chairman-Hindustan Unilever, Sanjay Kapoor, CEO, Bharti Airtel, etc. In all this, two things caught my eyes one is the theme of this year “Uncertainty: The New Certainty.” and secondly the amazing contests that are happening across social media platforms.
So to know more about the event and the social media efforts of AdAsia 2011, we spoke to Madhukar Kamath over an email interview. The interview is shared below:

Madhukar Kamath
1. AdAsia Congress comes to India after a gap of 8 years. How different is it going to be and what role is social media going to play?
The world is changing at a dizzying pace. So much so, that change has become the only constant. We are currently at an inflection point witnessing a realignment of global economic leadership. If in the 20th century the world looked to the West for innovation and progress, in the 21st century Everyone’s attention is riveted on Asia.
AdAsia 2011 will provide the platform to chronicle change of a significant magnitude and provide a glimpse of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for management, marketing, advertising, media and communications professionals.
The Agenda will feature more than 20 intellectually stimulating sessions that explore the business ecosystem and understand the nature of disruption. The topics have been carefully selected to stimulate exciting and cutting edge debate on concerns vital to the marketing, advertising and media industries.
Social Media is being used as a support media to create a buzz in the run up to the event.  Platforms like Blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are being used to build a community of branding and marketing professionals and foster active discussions. We will soon be launching some engagement activities on our Facebook page specifically targeting young professionals which will allow participants to show case their talent. We have invited well-known industry leaders to contribute their guest blog on the theme of the conference and these blogs will be show cased on our blog site.
2. To connect with the people of India, AdAsia has announced contests on various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Can you tell us bit more about these contests and the objective behind them?
We have launched three contests in all as follows:
1. On Twitter, participants are urged to interpret the AdAsia 2011 theme Uncertainty: The New Certainty on Twitter: TweetUrThought using the #AdAsia2011 tag. The best tweet will be awarded a Conference Registration Waiver.
2. Similarly on Facebook, AdAsia 2011 is running a contest targeted at the B schools, where students need to upload a 10 slide presentation on their take of the theme.
3. The third contest is targeted at the young talent from advertising agencies. Teams comprising three members, between the age group of 22 – 29 years have to create a 2 minute video around the conference theme. The videos will be judged by a Committee chaired by the Organizing Committee of AdAsia 2011. The best video or film will be featured at the Gala evening at AdAsia 2011.
The objective is to create a buzz around the AdAsia 2011 theme Uncertainty: the new Certainty and to infuse the conference with a talk value for a much wider audience.
3. AdAsia blog is quite a feature that should be praised with continuous quality content from experts. How important do you think a blog is for Indian businesses?
Presence on all the leading social media sites has become the norm for any business. We are living in a highly networked business environment where the consumer is king. Word of mouth which was always the most plausible and powerful medium of communications has become even stronger on the back of internet and social media. Given the speed and magnitude of reach made possible by internet technology, reputations can be made and broken in the twinkling of an eye. So you need to be out there communicating your story in real time.
I think blog is very important platform from the perspective of generating thought leadership. While Facebook updates and Tweets have a limited shelf life, blog content has much more shelf life and can be used to demonstrate true thought leadership. While certain categories like FMCG may be not be very amenable to blog-based communication, I think blogs can play a very important role when it comes to in-depth intellectual conversation….which is what Ad Asia 2011 is all about.
4. Social Presence is a must to build a buzz and AdAsia has a decent presence but why does it have a LinkedIn personal profile when it is a brand. Don’t you think a LinkedIn company page or a LinkedIn group would have given better engagement levels?
LinkedIn allows a brand to manifest in multiple ways. A LinkedIn page does not allow very active two way communication. Its manifestation is closer to that of a website. Also LinkedIn already has many groups around branding, marketing and advertising. On the other hand a LinkedIn profile allows a deeper level of engagement.  Hence we have chosen to use a LinkedIn profile and engage with existing active LinkedIn groups.
5. Finally, what lies ahead for Social Media in India? Are we going to evolve from WHY to HOW?
Social Media is India is still in its nascent stage. Brands are just beginning to understand the power of social media both for the purpose of community building and for online reputation management. India, right now is on the cusp of a digital revolution with the digital consumer base expected to grow from 60 million to 200 million in the next 3-4 years’ time. And social media will be leading this digital revolution. India already has the 2nd largest LinkedIn user base and perhaps ranks among the top 5 countries are far as Facebook is concerned.
I think the evolution from “Why Social Media” to “How to get it right” has already started and we should the first few success stories come out of India soon.

Thanks Madhukar for sharing your thoughts and I am delighted to see the way AdAsia 2011 is using social media to incorporate young minds. The contests are exciting and provides a way for the future industry talents to showcase themselves. Personally, I like the idea of using a blog but I am skeptic about a brand creating a LinkedIn personal profile. True a LinkedIn company page provides less volumes of engagement but then creating a personal profile breaches LinkedIn user agreement. Nevertheless, we wish the very best to the team of AdAsia 2011 which will be big and undoubtedly set benchmarks in advertising and marketing across continents.
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