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BW Businessworld

‘India Is A Key Driver Of Growth’

Michael Roth, chairman and CEO, Interpublic Group (IPG), says India plays an important role in the company’s growth journey and it continues to be a top investment market. IPG’s business in the Asia-Pacific increased over seven per cent organically, and was high-lighted by its continuing strong trend in both India and China.

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In the third-quarter earnings of 2015, IPG recorded one of the best financial performances amongst peers. Michael Roth, chairman and CEO, Interpublic Group (IPG), says India plays an important role in the company’s growth journey and it continues to be a top investment market. IPG’s business in the Asia-Pacific increased over seven per cent organically, and was high-lighted by its continuing strong trend in both India and China. IPG had double-digit percentage organic growth in India. Edited excerpts:

Q. In the year 2015, the BRIC markets have seen many challenges, but India appears to be holding its own and showing positive growth trends. Would you agree with this?
We have always viewed India as a very important market and continue to see it that way, regardless of where the business cycle happens to be at a particular point in time. Heading into the fourth quarter, economic conditions in some areas of the world will present macro headwinds and uncertainties. While those have been incorporated into our outlook, the overall tone of business nonetheless remains solid for our company — that’s also true in India.

Q. Is it a concern in some way that among the emerging markets, India appears to be doing well because of the challenges that China, Brazil and Russia are facing?
While the world is certainly interrelated, there are important differences among these countries. For one, I would separate the challenges of the more natural-resource-based economies. India has deep consumer markets and a wealth of productive talent. With the business-friendly policies Prime Minister Modi is putting in place — especially in the entertainment and media industry — we see India as a key driver for global growth. The continuing deterioration of China’s growth is of course troubling on a macro level, but our company isn’t over-exposed in that market either.

Q. What kind of pressure is the current global economy putting on marketers, and by extension on companies that form part of IPG?

What we do works. The challenge for our clients is growth. When clients are looking to generate growth, they can and should use marketing spend as a lever. It’s our responsibility to prove what we do is moving the needle for their business, and when we do that, we become a true partner as we help them deal with macroeconomic pressures. Within our own business, we have certain geographic pockets of strain because of macro headwinds, which as a global company, we can handle. We will closely monitor those markets, but IPG’s performance for the first nine months has been very strong and positions us well for a strong close to the full year.

Q. Would you call 2015 a good year for IPG in India? What are some of the highlights?
The biggest highlight so far has been welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to New York with a dinner this past September. I was able to spend time with him and hear firsthand about his plans to drive growth, as well as talk about the work our agencies are doing with the government. We discussed how IPG is very strong in digital in India, especially with Interactive Avenues, and as Modi has many digital initiatives planned for the country, IPG could be a valuable partner in his e-governance initiatives.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 30-11-2015)