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Mindshare’s new chief MA Parthasarathy aka Maps has just been assigned a young mentor from within the company, who will coach him on what’s happening in the world of social media and what it means for the younger generation. The 28-year-old will also mentor Maps on what the work-life balance means to the young. At Mindshare, reverse mentoring is helping keep the agency young, even as it moves to keep pace with a world of young consumers, with data, digital and content at its core.

“I am going to be mentored, among other things, in terms of what is the evolution of social media and what actually works for that generation,” says an enthusiastic Maps, CEO of Mindshare, South Asia. “We might still be stuck in our opinion of what works, and everyone keeps cribbing about millennials or Gen Z, but can we actually understand what they are thinking? They are the largest consuming population. So, across our ExCo (Executive Committee), everyone is going to have aYCo (Youth Committee) person who is a mentor. That gives you an idea of the importance of the entire programme.”

Mindshare has close to 50% of its staff coming from three core areas - data, digital and content (DDC). “Then there is a strong youth infusion. The YCo has been a very interesting and novel mix at a GroupM level. Through reverse mentoring, they actually drive a lot of our thinking around how the agency should evolve. It’s not just that one committee; but it’s the thinking that the younger generation has to influence decision-making, and actually make sure that the rest of us are not out of touch with reality,” muses Maps.

ParthasarathyMandayam aka Mapsdivides time between Bangalore, where his family lives, Delhi, Mumbai, as well as cities in South Asia markets such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. “Geography is history is the famous line,” jokes Maps, “So, I am in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, South Asia all the time.” Here are a few quick takes as we try to delve into the personality of Maps, the new leader of Mindshare.

Q] What is your earliest recollection of the advertising industry?
My earliest recollection was using rubber solution to do cut-paste artworks. When I joined the creative industry, we used to have these big drafting boards, and we would actually make layouts using these huge cans of something called ‘rubber solution’ to stick pieces of paper on layouts. At 1 o’clock in the night, we would sit making material for a Print ad which had to go the next day. That is my earliest memory… I think I did it about three days after joining an ad agency. I used to work on Citibank as our client, and suddenly around 9 pm, they would tell us that the interest rate had changed and the entire artwork had to change. Then I would take the rubber solution, stick a new paper and make positives.

Q] What did you dream of or aspire to be as a child?
Like many little kids, I wanted to be a lorry driver, or a long distance bus driver. I used to love the idea of driving.

Q] If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

Q] What is one thing that you would want to change in the business of media and advertising?
The scale of importance between strategy and pricing.

Q] How do you function in a crisis?
Be calm, irrespective of the chaos that is happening around you, because calmness instills calmness.

Q] What is your work mantra, one tenet that you always adhere by?
Respect for individuals. Respect for time. If someone sends a mail, I will very well respond to it immediately. Try and have respect for skillsets and respect for people’s time.

Q] By what time do you head home at the end of a workday? Do you maintain a fair work-life balance?
Everyone’s definition of work-life balance is different. I think ‘reach home’ itself is a different notion when you are on the road for three or four days a week. So, home might be your hotel room! However, I really believe in the importance of work-life balance. I make sure I have enough time for my family. It’s important because it’s a huge de-stressor.

Q] Tell us anecdotes around your time in this industry – it could be about a special high point, a learning, a defining moment or a slice-of-life observation, a realization... let us have some stories.
There have been quite a few defining moments in my career. But the most impactful were – 1. Leaving behind an exciting job in IBM to plunge into advertising, which is my passion, early in my career 2. Working on the Ford brand for over 13 years across markets – brought together my passion for Advertising & Automobiles 3. Entering the media world with Mindshare, especially in the exciting area of Insights & Analytics. A learning for me is that designations and positions matter very little. Respect is gained by the ability to add value – be it to clients, your own teams or to the industry at large.

Moving to 365 days of content engagement
“Data and apt insights from it are key to excel in today’s connected world. My experience from the past and my experience in the current environment gives me the ability to lead the data journey in a challenging consumer-first environment from ‘information-information to unbiased decisions’ across automation for efficiency, insights for right moment and context, advance analytics for measurement besides being pro-active. This helps clients to drive more business values. At Mindshare, what we proudly say is ‘do the best work of your life’ to become really true to yourself and achieve success. I feel very proud of winning awards for the work we do at Mindshare across forums like ICOM Data Creativity and WARC.”

Mahendra Upadhyay
Vice President, Data & Technology, Mindshare India
Along with influencer MallikaDua, Mindshare launched a unique interactive campaign for Idea 4G called #IndiaKaLiveNetwork. Building on the brand’s tagline of ‘India Ka Live Network’, Idea 4G Live leveraged the power of video calls in an effort to bring alive the experience of video calling with a renowned celebrity in real time.

In the Pepsico campaign ‘Miles and Meals’, Mindshare partnered with a railway food delivery app, ‘RailYatri’. With the booking information, it devised permutations of food preferences, season, and train schedules of travellers to make the most of underserved Indian railway journeys, taken by 20 million people every day.

‘Winning at Cannes for Data and Creativity is a huge win for us’
Mindshare Fulcrum took charge as the integrated media buying arm of Hindustan Unilever Limited in January after the big victory of winning its digital mandate in August 2018. The agency then formed the HUL Capability building programme called LINK for Team Fulcrum. Commenting on how it has fared, and some of the other efforts within the agency to handle the integrated media mandate of HUL, PremjeetSodhi, Senior Vice President, Mindshare Fulcrum South Asia, says, “The objective of the LINK initiative was to upgrade the skillset of all existing teams and the large number of new joinees for Digital. The programme has been a great success. With a mix of classroom sessions, web trainings and partner interactions, LINK clocked more than a 1,000 hours of training within the first three months with participation from all teams at Fulcrum. While on one hand the focus of the trainings was to get all teams at par on planning fundamentals, proprietary planning principles, tools and processes, on the other hand there was a mass upgradation of the digital acumen of the team. To deliver an integrated product to the client across strategy, planning, buying and operations the trainings spanned from fundamentals of digital planning to training on advanced platforms across partners. The LINK programme has built world-class capability in the team to deliver seamlessly across digital video & display, search, performance marketing, ecommerce, mobile, programmatic, digital content and influencers, etc. Intensive training sessions were conducted for a large scale of team members with partners such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Seismic, Nielsen DAR, Shopalyst, Inmobi, Voot, Hotstar, Lifesight, Zapr, Syncmedia, etc.”

To land the integrated mandate, Fulcrum has moved to a future-ready structure, redefined KRAs of teams to drive all-media responsibilities and re-crafted the data management and reporting structures. Proprietary practices, tools and processes have been aligned to the integrated mandate.

Tresemme@Oscars: To enhance the fashion quotient of Tressemme, Fulcrum created a data-led association with the Oscars live telecast and targeted Oscar viewers in real-time through their mobile devices and engaged them with contextual and interactive content.

Lux Golden Rose Awards (LGRA): The third edition of LGRA was an extension to the United Nation’s “He for She” campaign to celebrate gender equality. Some of the biggest names in Bollywood were pledging for #HeforShe campaign. This was done in partnership with Star TV Network, Hotstar and other digital platforms like Pinkvilla, Facebook, Bebeautiful, Hindustan Times and Fever FM.

Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band 2.0: Fulcrum took a step towards breaking social stigma towards mental health and disabilities. It introduced a unique music collective of six differently abled teens with special needs and incredible musical skills, talent and passion, breaking social barriers, one song at a time. The five-song campaign has already reached over 90 million people.
Brooke Bond Red Label @Asia Cup: No one had seen AamerSohail of Pakistan and Venkatesh Prasad of India together after that electrifying cricket match of 1996. Fulcrum got them back after 22 years and that too in a live match between India and Pakistan at the last Asia Cup on Star Sports, reliving the moment, this time over a different cup.

Hamam: Making Self Defence a part of school curriculum: For the HamamGosafeoutside campaign, Fulcrum made the native martial art of Silambam a part of the school curriculum. Silambam training modules, both theoretical and physical, were given to 3,00,000 girl students across 612 schools in 21 districts of Tamil Nadu.

Axe ‘Ab Teri Baari’: Built around Axe’s brand purpose of inspiring guys to express their individuality, the song mirrors the brand’s communication platform of ‘Make Your Own Rules’. The song was sung by Naezy, a leading rapper, along with icons who made it to the top by breaking the stereotypical notions. The song has already crossed 50 million views.

BeBeautiful and Cleanipedia: As a strategic step, Fulcrum created domain-specific content destinations to build equity with the consumer. It strengthened BeBeautiful with more content and expanded its userbase; another destination named cleanipedia.in was created to address gaps in the home care segment.

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