Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, the global marketing and communications giant, feels that brand India which took a hit in the last 2-3 years would be on the ascendant again.
"While brand India has a lot of positive attributes but there are also some negatives that any brand consultants or advisor would say that an action needs to be taken. I think, the prime minister has already indicated willingness not only to think about those issues but also to actually to do something about it," the adman said.
Sorrell, who was in Mumbai on Tuesday to launch the first BrandZ top 50 most valuable Indian brands ranking report, also expressed confidence that India will get its mojo back in terms of fast growth.
Citing the example of China, which benefited immensely because of its strong image abroad, the adman said there is a direct co-relation between the foreign direct investment inflows and brand image perception of a country.
"I think the Indian prime minister is absolutely right when stressing on the need for a strong brand India. While it is a direct co-relation from a tourism point of view, which is clearly one of the strengths of the Incredible India campaign, it also touches up on aspects like infrastructure, education and technology," said Sorrell.
Elaborating on WPP's India business, Sorrell said revenues from the country will cross $500 million for the first time. "India continues to be strong for us and we have grown very significantly this year. For the first time, we will be crossing $500 million in revenues, and that is an incredible achievement. Our share here is extremely strong across all our businesses that continue to perform very well."
Before elections, India was very strongly growing, like-to-like at sort of 6% to 7%, and will continue post the elections, he said.
"What we gauge is an improved mood post elections here. Whether that results in increased spending is yet to be seen. But I would say -- basis my observation -- is that the mood is better post the election and people are optimistic," said Sorrell.
He said expectations are being built up and will have to be fulfilled otherwise people will become disappointed.
Making some observations about advertising as a proportion of GDP, Sorrell said overall worldwide it is about constant. "But what we see in the faster growth markets, India is still under-branded/under-advertised in our view. If you look at the scale of our business, we have $500 million business in India, with over 40% market share and a workforce of 14,500 people. In China, our biggest market in BRICS, we have business of $1.5 billion, 15% share and 16,000 people. So that gives you the rough dynamics," he said.
Advising Indian entrepreneurs on what they should be doing when operating in the Indian business environment, he said owners of businesses should mine the opportunities in the country incessantly until they have exhausted before moving abroad.
"There are a number of companies in India that have done it already or are in the process. While there will be different kinds of challenges like how to grow globally, India will be a hot-bed of growth and development," he said.