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Saatchi & Saatchi top-brass Richard Hytner wants to make a Lovemark

Saatchi & Saatchi's deputy chairman Richard Hytner is a man who wants to make a mark, a Lovemark, to be more specific - and his first stop is Mumbai.

, ET Bureau|
Mar 04, 2009, 06.12 AM IST
Richard Hytner
Richard Hytner
���I think this is the beginning of a beautiful love affair,��� he tells us with a smile. And no, it���s not a rendition of the famous line uttered by Rick Blaine on a deserted Casablanca airstrip. Instead, while marveling at orchestrated chaos on busy city streets, Richard Hytner, the first global Saatchi & Saatchi top-brass to visit the country in a while, is actually talking about falling head over heels in love with the millionaire slumdog���s city, Mumbai. Of course Hytner watched the multiple Oscar winning British film (twice), and it only intensified his desire to visit the country. But love affairs apart here���s a man on a serious mission.

Hytner���s mandate is quite simply to propagate and grow Saatchi���s trademark Lovemarks philosophy with virus like intensity and speed. The philosophy is the brainchild of Saatchi & Saatchi���s rather unconventional and inspirational chief Kevin Roberts. To cut a long story short, a Lovemark brand is one that is not only respected but also unconditionally and wholeheartedly loved. Now while we���re on the subject of love, and the emotion an entire institution���s belief system is based on, Hytner is well aware of some hardnosed skeptics in the crowd. ������What is this pixie dust?��� they say.���

The answer, says Hytner is a simple question, ���Do you want your brand to be liked, or loved?���, highlighting the simple fact that brands are owned by people not brand managers and people will punish brands that let them down. We all have our personal lovemarks, for this Saatchi man it���s Diet Coke, Eric ���The King��� Cantona (Hytner also co-founded Shareholders United to stop undesirable takeovers of football club Manchester United) and Guinness among others. He also believes that despite a couple of hiccups, Apple still has tremendous respect and loyalty among its adoring public. So what about India we ask? His eyes light up and he says that the country itself is a lovemark brand, and that a certain rum called Old Monk, a movie star called Shah Rukh Khan and Mumbai all recently appeared on the latest top 20 Lovemarks list.

Hytner Expectations

Hytner���s fleeting four-day visit is a first, and many more will follow as Publicis group realizes the significance of the market not only in the neighboring region but on a global stage as well. There are perhaps several reasons for stressing on the region. But it���s important to note that despite being a large and celebrated international agency, Pubicis��� India operation has failed to break ground while rival WPP group gobbled up massive chunks to emerge as the dominant player.

Furthermore, as developed markets stutter and growth pangs get stronger, the group���s shedding more light on fast emerging CRIB countries like China, Russia, India and Brazil he says. Perhaps it���s also got to do with the fact that Saatchi hasn���t had a very high profile executive in the country for a while and now new leadership teams have come into play at the local level. So part of the exercise says Hytner is about training people, better equipping them, leveraging the network���s size and framing challenges that ignite great business ideas. ���Scale is not important right now, that will take care of itself,��� he says, ���the goal is to reinforce existing capabilities and build value so we can punch more above our weight.���

Key to Saatchi���s game plan is developing world-class consumer insights, also a crucial element when it comes to execution of ideas on the digital platform. According to Hytner thinking digitally does not mean obsessing about capabilities. Rather, worry about generating insights so a mood can be better captured. He says, ���Digital is a new reality, like electricity. That���s the future.��� Well, we hope in the future Hytner���s association with India will be an affair to remember.
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