Mindshare is the latest agency to set up an international hub in India, broadening the scope of its existing mobile practice in Mumbai to service global clients.
Norm Johnston, Mindshare’s global digital leader
Mindshare, part of WPP’s GroupM, has had a mobile team in Mumbai since 2007 that currently handles 55% of mobile ad campaigns in the Indian marketplace, including work for Nike, HSBC and Ford, according to Alice Manners, GroupM Interaction chief operating officer, Asia-Pacific.
The group also executed campaigns elsewhere in Asia, but India has been a priority due to its off-the-charts mobile usage. As of December 2011, there were 894 million mobile subscribers in the country, second only to China, driven by a highly competitive mobile market with low rates and handset prices.
Mindshare executives decided they could use the practice to help clients outside of the region scale their mobile offerings, since executing a mobile campaign in India can be one-third of the price of similar work in the U.S. or Western Europe due to labor costs, according to Norm Johnston, Mindshare’s global digital leader.
“We’re letting all of our global clients access this team to produce high-quality work at a lower cost,” said Mr. Johnston. He noted that the 20-person mobile team in Mumbai, which includes developers and graphic designers, could potentially double in the next year, since five global clients are already interested.
“As the need for more mobile content increases dramatically it becomes cost-prohibitive to do it locally,” he added.
The Mumbai team was repositioned with a global focus last month. It’s intended to have a full-service offering encompassing both strategy and development and to serve as a production hub for HTML5 content, mobile apps, websites and ad units, though there will still be mobile strategists and other practitioners in other Mindshare offices around the world.
Mindshare isn’t the first agency to stake out a global presence in India. Sibling WPP agency Ogilvy & Mather has had a digital hub in Bangalore since late 2007, originally to service its global Lenovo account. It now has two other global clients and 180 employees, including creative directors, account executives, production and digital staff, according to Poran Malani, who oversees the hub as president, digital at Ogilvy & Mather Bangalore. About 10% of Ogilvy’s Bangalore employees are expatriates from countries like England, France, Australia and Cameroon.
The main imperative for locating the hub in India wasn’t cost-cutting, according to Mr. Malani, who said that it happened to be the ideal setup for Lenovo, since India was one of the markets outside of China where the company had been successful with consumers. Lenovo had also set up its own global marketing hub in Bangalore in mid-2007.
“India hadn’t done any international advertising, so we had to do it from scratch,” said Mr. Malani, who noted that it’s been easier to hire and train employees in India than it would have been in other markets since Indians are English-speaking and have a “creative heritage.” “We were very lucky to be ahead of the game.”