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Earlier this month, Network Advertising announced the appointment of Harish Shriyan and Amit Ray as executive directors of the agency. Shriyan, who was earlier the group CEO of Omnicom Media Group, played a pivotal role in establishing Omnicom Media Group in India. Prior to that, he held leadership positions in MediaCom.

He has managed portfolios of marquee brands, both global and Indian, including Renault, Nissan, HP, Volkswagen, Beiersdorf, Tata Motors, Kotak Mahindra and Parle Agro. Ray was the founding partner at Media First Consulting, and has been the longest-serving chairman of the Technical Committee at the MRUC.

He has headed the media function in agencies like Mudra and been on the client side holding a leadership position at Reliance Infocomm.
Network Advertising’s new Executive Directors talk to us about their new roles at Network Advertising, especially at what has been a hugely challenging time for the media and advertising industry.

On the new roles
Speaking about his appointment at Network Advertising, Shriyan says, “Network is a world-class contemporary communication company. It is one of the very few companies that I have ever seen who are so passionate about the client’s business success.

Both Amit and I would like to tell the whole world how an Indian company is so refreshingly different, and we will work together to strengthen our media offerings as well as the client base.” Shriyan also adds that the other exciting prospect of working with a company like Network Advertising is the fact that it is completely Indian, and therefore the role is truly empowering.

“Firstly, when I started interacting with Network, I clearly understood what I missed in a global agency, being a self-respecting professional – freedom. Network is a 100% full-service Indian organisation where people are empowered to be fearless and free when it comes to making difficult business decisions. This aspect I really craved for,” he says.

Ray echoes Shriyan’s views on the empowering nature of their new roles at Network Advertising. “My biggest excitement is to have the opportunity to work with a fine professional gentleman like Harish. Besides, I have known Network for a while and have always felt that if I were to create my agency, it will be exactly like this.

A fearless agency with a working environment of trust, and where the only objective is clients’ success. An agency for whom, freedom means much more than the lure of dollars,” Ray emphasises, adding that he is especially looking forward to working in an agency where the people at the pitch are the people who actually handle the business.

Navigating the current industry challenges
Both Shriyan and Ray are stepping into these new roles at a time when the industry is grappling with tremendous challenges, brought on by the pandemic. But that is no deterrent, as Ray says, noting that he will continue to use his life’s learnings to steer the agency and its clientele towards growth in these tumultuous times.

“Being a veteran, one advantage is to be passionately objective and keep creating scenarios for the future. No doubt we are going through probably one of the worst crises in recorded human history and that will make the task of keeping alive and steering the agency much more difficult. As a professional, I have always thrown my hat into the ring and will continue to do the same,” he states.

Talking about the current situation, Shriyan notes that advertising has survived one severe and one mild recession in 1997-98 and 2008. However, the current situation is unprecedented and may last longer than any forecast, making it challenging even for seasoned professionals to predict what could happen next, he adds.

“I do recognise the difficulties that we are facing. Hence, we will approach each step with a lot more caution and deliberation and will handle the challenges with positivity and creatively in order to succeed. At a functional level, it would mean hugely increased empathy for the client. We will have to believe that the factory way of buying inventory by the kilo won’t work for the client’s business.

We will have to get inside the client’s mind and then devise solutions. This is where the Network way of working will come handy,” explains Shriyan. He also throws light on how the media agency ecosystem might evolve in the light of the changing market conditions.

“We all know that we are moving towards a digital world, and hence must go beyond the traditional boundaries. We must continue to re-build our expertise and knowledge, enhance core skill sets – programmatic/performance, e-commerce, data science, social intelligence and influence, emotional intelligence (linking to AI), innovation technology, etc.

to be a bespoke solution provider to clients’ businesses,” he explains, adding that one has to be much more pragmatic, hands-on, and self-evaluative than ever before.

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Tags : Christina Moniz Harish Shriyan Amit Ray Network Advertising