25 May 2020 22:04

LEADERSHIP TALK

Harindra Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Percept Limited

“Innovation is vital if you want to be successful in any business. During the first decade of our existence we stayed focused on our core area of deliveries, but remained adaptable to shifting consumer tastes, and evolved as rapidly as the market dynamics changed. We got several distinctions in the first 10 years. We were ranked the ‘Fastest Growing Advertising Agency’, listed in the ‘Top 5 Financial Agencies’, titled ‘Brand Builder’, and won numerous accolades as ‘Leading Event Agency’, ‘Leading Talent Agency’, ‘Leading Sports Agency’ and more.” Said Harindra Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Percept Limited

In an interaction with MediAvataar India Mr.Singh discussed the iconic brand their agency is today and how they believe in keep innovating in order to build an even better legacy.
Here is the complete Q&A…

MediAvataar: What does Percept stand for?

Harindra: Percept was incepted on January 2, 1984 and was originally called Perceptions because this was the most repeated word in my tenure working in an industry that was purely focused on changing people’s perceptions. A few weeks later we went to the Times of India to release an ad and the guy asked us the name of our company. When we replied Perceptions, he told us that there’s already a company with that name. As a newcomer in this space I had no money to print new stationary. So I went back to the office, took a blade and actually cut the last few letters off the artwork and the rubber stamps. And that's how Perceptions became Percept. Today it seems like a very apt name. After all Percept is an object of perception, the mental result of perceiving; an impression or sensation that is developed as a consequence of the process of perception.

MediAvataar:  Percept has such a long standing history behind it, which one is your most favourite vertical and why?

Harindra: We love everything we do… Be it our flagship creative Advertising business, the challenging nuances of our PR vertical, the fast paced evolution and diversity of our Media division, the dynamism of our Activations and ICE vertical, the groundbreaking potential of our Content SBU, or the challenges and excitement of our Live Entertainment unit, we absolutely enjoy our EMC business in its entirety.

MediAvataar:  Please share some of your campaigns in the Advertising domain that have really made you feel proud.

Harindra: We have rolled out over 2,500 ad campaigns in the past three decades for some of the best know Indian and multinational clients.

Some of the most memorable campaigns created include the ‘Desh ki Dhadkan’ concept for Hero Honda that became so popular and recognized in positioning their brand that it was used in their principal communication across all their products for 3 decades.

‘Coming Home to Siyarams’ became one of India’s longest running campaigns and was endorsed by leading celebrities including Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta, Boris Becker, MS Dhoni, Ajay Jadeja, and Dino Morea over a span of 30 years.

The many novel brand identity campaigns executed by us for Pantaloon over the past decade transformed them into one of India’s leading retail apparel brands.

The ‘Jai Ho’ campaign was another out-of-the-box campaign that swept the masses in the 2009 General Elections in India and garnered overwhelming popularity for the Congress.

The unique positioning of ‘Luxury Suiting’ for Reid & Taylor was showcased through the tagline ‘Bond with the Best’ endorsed by James Bond 007 (Pierce Brosnan).

With Force India we overcame the biggest challenge of creating a brand new category in sport in a cricket crazed nation by marrying the attributes of F1 with the consumer mindset.

The Bharti India Campaign - ‘Proud to be Indian, Proud to be Bharti’ campaign for Bharti went on to touch the hearts of a billion Indians.

MediAvataar: How do you look at your competition?

Harindra: Competition is necessary to grow the overall market. We need more Ad, PR, Event, OOH, Content and Live Event companies to ensure that everyone is doing their best. Competition raises the bar and propels everyone to improve their standard and go that extra mile to innovate and offer unique services, productions and solutions to their stakeholders. 

Knowledge is vital to attain that extra edge and stay on top of the game. The basic essentials are business acumen, understanding of the TG and domain knowledge coupled with relationships to be able to create a successful brand or campaign. Unfortunately many people get into the industry driven by short term vision, lack of knowledge and experience, leading to failures and losses. It is conveniently attributed to cluttered environment which is not true.
Competition is amazing and brings out the best in us. Sunburn, our Intellectual Property, and today ranked one of the largest Music Festivals in the world, wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for the competition. Supersonic forced us to evolve by shifting our event out of Candolim. We had no choice but to scout for suitable new locales across Goa. And in the process, we stumbled upon and zeroed in on Vagator, thereby now increasing our limited ground space available in Candolim hosting 35,000 visitors to accommodating over 100,000 people in the vast region of Vagator. Growing competition forces us not to get complacent, laid back. It helped push our boundaries, capabilities and offerings to our consumers.

Competition and the thumb rule of a business life cycle forced us to become the best, boldest and biggest in the Live Event business. Even after Sunburn was declared as big as Tomorrowland and Ultra Miami in the IMS APAC Business report 2014, we proactively pushed ahead to innovate and aimed to become the No. 1 EDM Festival in the world. This spans having the best artist line-ups, the best of engagement activities for our partners, visitors & sponsors, best facilities at the venue, world class security, state-of-the-art technology and more. Competition forces us to be on our feet around the clock, and that’s exactly what new age cutting edge business is all about.

MediAvataar: How important is it to keep innovating?

Harindra: Innovation is vital if you want to be successful in any business. During the first decade of our existence we stayed focused on our core area of deliveries, but remained adaptable to shifting consumer tastes, and evolved as rapidly as the market dynamics changed. We got several distinctions in the first 10 years. We were ranked the ‘Fastest Growing Advertising Agency’, listed in the ‘Top 5 Financial Agencies’, titled ‘Brand Builder’, and won numerous accolades as ‘Leading Event Agency’, ‘Leading Talent Agency’, ‘Leading Sports Agency’ and more.

And then came the stage in the early '90s when we were hit by this global paradigm shift. When I got into this business, there was just one kind of agency, ie: ‘Full Service’. And, then came a time when full service agencies were seen as useless doctors. So we adapted and innovated to offer a one-stop-shop Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) solution.

Over the past 32 years, we constantly innovated to stay ahead of the game. When everyone was following the ‘norm’, we broke the mould, and when industries were bound by their status quo we branched out. We broke many traditions, mindsets and cliché barriers to constantly launch innovative and path-breaking content, services and properties that were revolutionary, futuristic and customized to the needs of the diverse and ever evolving Indian and global audience. At Percept, ‘Change is the only Constant’.

For example, in spite of Sunburn being ranked consecutively Asia’s No. 1 Dance Music Fest and acclaimed as showcasing the most incredible main stage, we innovated and raised the bar every year. In December 2015, we had stated that the Sunburn Main Stage should be the best and largest in the world to live up to audience expectations and keep up with our repute of being the best across the globe. We pushed ever boundary, technology and capability to achieve this in 2015. The Sunburn Goa 2015 Main Stage was 300 feet wide and 100 feet high; one of the world’s largest, titled ‘Empire Of The Sun’ drawing its inspiration from Indian ethnicity. The stage comprised of 300 moving heads (intelligent lighting), 2500 sq feet of LED, more than 100 boxes of sound with 200 people workforce executing the same. No company till date has surpassed this amazing feat.

Whatever we learnt has been first hand, on the ground. When you have been on the street long enough, you develop that instinct, you are able to pre-empt; you don't wait for the hurdle or change to pop up, but find an innovative solution around it way before it happens. At every step of the way we remained receptive to change, found strategic gap areas, took huge risks, and held a strong position if we believed in a project. We learnt fast enough that clients do not want pure advertising, or PR or Events...they want ‘Solutions’. We took the position to provide that innovative holistic solution across the Entertainment, Media and Communications domain, and that’s really what gives us the staying power and an edge in the global market today.

MediAvataar: What according to you is a perfect message?

Harindra: The one that sells!

MediAvataar: In your career journey, what has been one of your most a) gratifying and b) bizarre experiences so far?

Harindra: Client saying thanks… never happens :)

MediAvataar: What’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy while balancing the books? 

Harindra: Percept’s growth has come around due to good work and great word of mouth referrals. My personal networking actually never went beyond our own team of people and clients. I have always believed in being true to our work, clients and team...and that’s what helped us grow immensely.

MediAvataar: Where do you place India on the global creative marketing backdrop?

Harindra: With 1.2 billion people, you’ve got literally millions of Indians spanning the globe with genius level IQs, strong drive and ambition. Indians have time and again proven that they are brilliant at whatever they apply their mind to, be it Math, Science, IT, Media, the Creative Arts, Medicine, Academics, Research and more. What they have achieved, they have done through hard work, determination, intellect and a good education.

But above all, I believe it’s our strong ‘Value’ system that differentiates us and makes us stand tall in the global creative marketing backdrop. Over the years, our strong value system has reflected in everything we think, speak and do on the global platform. Our exposure and genuine embrace of a multiplicity of religions, cultures and lifestyles has reflected in our creative marketing solutions and offerings, and have only served to make us stand apart, excelling in every domain and enriching the global melting pot.

MediAvataar: Your message to the budding marketing professionals in India.

Harindra: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, WORK HARD… IT WILL ALL HAPPEN.

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