PETALING JAYA: Chanchal Chakrabarty, the newly elected president of the Media Specialists Association (MSA), is undeterred by the current headwinds affecting the marketing communications industry.
After helming the top position at the association’s recent AGM, he is already laying out plans to strengthen the industry amid challenges, as the Covid-19 pandemic tightens its grip on corporate Malaysia.
Chanchal, who is CEO of GroupM Malaysia, took over the reins from Dentsu Malaysia’s Yap Chee Weng who held the position in the last two terms.
Elaborating on his plans as the new chief of MSA, he told StarBiz that as the industry evolves there is a need to focus on various aspects to be ahead of the curve.
“However, a couple of the critical areas of focus besides many others, would be firstly in the area of measurement. With the transformation of the media landscape, it’s imperative that the measurement also gets aligned to the way the consumer now consumes media.
“For example, a single currency for video measurement is now essential, given that today’s consumer gets access to videos from multiple platforms.
“This will help our industry to effectively reach the consumers across the platforms while also managing costs better. It would also make Malaysia one of the first markets to embark on such single currency video measurement, ” he noted.
He said MSA was currently working closely with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and other associations, adding that since the association is the specialist in this area, it would have to take the lead and make it happen.
Broadly speaking, the MSA’s main role is to further the interests of the marketing communications industry and more specifically the media agencies in Malaysia.
It has been the representative body of all member media agencies of the country since the last 17 years.
MSA is the apex body made up of representation from both local and global, small, medium and large media agencies in the country.
MSA has also been organising the Malaysia Media Awards for many years where all agencies participate in the event and many marketers are part of the judging panel.
According to Chanchal, the association has plans to also relaunch the Malaysia Media Awards.
Towards this end, he said it wants the awards show to have a new appearance, making it more outcome-driven and people-driven in line with the industry’s evolution.
Would the second wave of the pandemic put a strain to the existing headwinds and barriers facing the industry?
And how does MSA plan to ride on these obstacles?
To this, he said: “Our industry has a direct correlation with the state of the economy, as marketing spends is one of the first to get impacted being usually the largest after the input costs of production and raw material.
“The state of the economy also dictates consumer sentiment and spending, which has an obvious correlation to the marketing spends.”
The impact on global clients in Malaysia could also depend on the state of their larger markets like the US and European Union which could be typically more than 60% of their global business.
Hence, any significant drop there impacts the budgets across countries.
Chanchal said the current unusual circumstances underscored the importance of collective thinking.
There are no set rules or past experiences which can help lead agencies in the current times, so there is a need to leverage the collective thinking of marketing, communications as well as other disciplines to define the rules, test, learn and evolve, he added.
“We at MSA will strive to create opportunities and forums where we can come together as a larger industry to drive this collective thinking towards economic success, ” he stressed.
As an optimist, Chanchal said despite the ravaging Covid-19, he prefers to view it on a positive note. Working from home, for example, has helped strengthen both personal and professional relationships.
Besides getting to spend more time with families, everyone has taken extra effort to connect more than when working from the office with their teams, colleagues and clients.
“Client-agency relationships have surely strengthened during this time as well. At the same time, it has forced everyone to come out of the usual approach to things.
“With nobody knowing what the future holds and with no tried-and-tested ways to tackle the situation, it has helped create an open mindset culture.
“Being agile and flexible has become one of the most important virtues. The onslaught of the pandemic has created a level playing field for many industries.
“For example, all players in the airline industry are now at base zero and their future would be crafted by the new decisions they take and new strategies they develop to soar, ” he pointed out.
At the AGM, Darren Yuen of Initiative Media was elected as MSA’s vice-president. Yuen is the CEO of Initiative and BPN.
Other association office bearers are Vanitha Selvathurai (secretary/Carat Media Services) and Wong Pi Yee (treasurer/Starcom Mediavest Group). The council is represented by Bluedale Integrated, Dentsu X Malaysia, m/Six, MediaEdge; CIA, Mindshare Malaysia, Unity Communications Malaysia, Universal McCann and Vizeum Media Services.
MSA aims to help and support those agencies that specialise in providing media research, strategic planning, media negotiations and placement services.