Changing Perceptions

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Brands – to agencies are like patients to doctors – each patient is different, and so is each brand. 

Rabeth Khan is the Chief Executive Officer of MACOMM (Official Affiliate of Dentsu in Bangladesh), MediaAxis (Official Affiliate of Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network in Bangladesh) and the Managing Director of Creinse Limited. He is the recipient of the Bonze Ward at Adfest in 2010 and 2011. Rabeth’s company received the Jury of Asia’s Most Promising Brand in 2012 and 2013. Over the years, he has built up a diverse work portfolio comprising of advertising, brand communication, entertainment and international music events.

Your company focuses on six areas of marketing and advertising communications. How do you maintain an organization that serves so many purposes?
Given our ten years of experience, we have witnessed that the advertising industry has shifted from any agency side of one point in which there are multiple specialized agencies to one company with collated services abilities. We have experienced the change in the dynamics which has allowed us to adapt to the various aspects of marketing and advertising communication. We have numerous sectors that cater to specialized requirements. MACOMM, the initiating force of our aspiration specializes in brand management, creative services, brand architecture and events. MACOMM has recently become the official affiliate of Dentsu in Bangladesh. MediaAxis, the official affiliate of Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network is the media planning, media buying and digital arm of the group with independent operations and team resources. Under the integration with Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network, MediaAxis also represents the digital verticals of the Dentsu Aegis Network companies such as Isobar and i-Prospect.

Your business’s perception is “Changing Perspective”, what does this mean for your company?
The mantra, “Changing Perceptions” has been around since the business was born in 2005. We wanted to change how clients and brands perceive ways to get closer to consumers. Additionally, we wanted to modify the ways how consumers engage with brands. There was always the aspiration to become a change maker in the field of advertising and brand management.

MACOMM and MediaAxis are concerns that handle international brands and clients, what are the challenges in attracting and keeping these clients in Bangladesh?
As our agencies are aligned with one of the best advertising and communication agency groups in the world, the challenge to perform consistently is the key. International brands and clients expect international levels of work capability and transparency from us. These perspectives are a part of our core value and ensure continuous success.

You are the official affiliates of Dentsu in Bangladesh. What impact has this made on your company?
With MACOMM being the Official Affiliate of Dentsu in Bangladesh and MediaAxis being the Official Affiliate of Carat/Dentsu Aegis Network, the international collaborations and affiliations have transited us to new levels of exposure and learning regarding the international standards and practices of global advertising. The business has one of the best teams on a global scale, pitching for the world’s best businesses and brands and obtaining these clients for our agency. And with Dentsu being the strongest Japanese origin agency handling more than 75% of the top 100 brands of Japan, we have the added advantage of knowing the Japanese ways better than anyone else

Are there are any other interesting collaborations for MACOMM we should know about?
As an agency, we have aspirations to expand out of the country, and we already have started conducting some projects in Singapore and Sri Lanka. We want to consolidate further in this area. In 2 years time, we also want to become the best digital agency in the market in areas of planning and execution of digital campaigns. Experiential and events are also high focus areas for us, as they provide opportunities for stronger consumer engagement and innovation.

Your agency handles clients who wish to advertise numerous products. Are there particular protocols for each type of product?
Each brand or product needs individual analysis, insights and strategizing. Brands – to agencies are like patients to doctors – each patient is different, and so is each brand. Under our agencies, we have handled product categories such as tourism, consumer electronics, telecom brands, mobiles phones and notebook PCs all of which have different branding structures.

Given that the bulk of your company’s turnover is from foreign clients, is there any particular ad agency that you have learned from?
When I started my agency, I had the clear intention to focus on working with international brands. There were a few reasons for that – working with international brands help you to learn the international best practices faster. Also, I felt the international clients value the efforts of agencies better in terms of appreciation and financial returns and international clients, in most cases, stay with agencies for a prolonged duration if agencies deliver them with efficiency and results.

What are some of the barriers and challenges that you face with advertising that is particularly prevalent in Bangladesh?
Honestly, when I started my agency, I thought the advertising industry as a whole had fewer challenges than other sectors. As I grew I was proven wrong. A majority of the local clients still perceive agencies as vendors and suppliers and have a tendency to dominate agencies. I strongly feel if the client has a brand manager, then the agency should also have a brand manager as both works for the same brand and manages the same brand.
Socially, families and relatives still feel that working in advertising agencies is not the same as working in other sectors. A perception that needs to change. People in advertising agencies are equally talented and competent as the individuals in other sectors.
I disappointed about the way the banks and financial institutions regard the business of advertising agencies. Advertising and agencies together churn out more than Tk 2,000 crore of revenues annually. However, banks list us in their nonpreferred categories and do not give us any form of financial assistance other than a simple personal loan worth Tk 10 lac maybe. There are no financial business schemes or work order financing for us either.

You have started a company from nothing, what has been your inspiration throughout your journey as an entrepreneur? What advice would you give to those starting a new business?
I have indeed started my business out of nothing from the balcony of my house. I have taken some great strides but there are still many more miles to go. To become an entrepreneur, one needs to set their goals, work towards their goals with the ability to endure failure, have an endless amount of patience, have a fearless and uncompromising attitude and have the ability to work 25 hours a day. One more aspect of today’s added struggle to stay afloat as an ethical entrepreneur is to have the energy to battle unethical ways and corruption. My motto is to dream, to dare, to do – practicing it will help one to reach closer to his/her goals.

 

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