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India on their minds

Managing Director of Cheil India, Jae Hong Kim, who's been entrusted the responsibility of expanding the advertising conglomerate beyond its identity associated with Samsung, shares his vision with MiD DAY

It started as a division of the Samsung group in 1973. Today Cheil, with its worldwide network, is the 5th largest advertising company in Asia and 16th in the world. Now it is looking to spread its wings.

Mr Kim, tell us about your experience here...
It's early days; it has been about 10 months so far. It was pretty tough at the beginning because it is a relatively large organisation. I'm trying to understand everything: the culture, spirit and mindset of India and the agency. I'm totally new to this country and before making any dramatic interventions, I am trying to go deeper into Indian culture, history and customs.

How has the advertising industry changed in recent years?
Globally, there has been a dramatic change in how agencies work. I think the most significant is the emergence of digital media, which has changed the whole paradigm. The world is zeroing in on digital media. It's a revolution underway, perhaps it has already happened. In India, too, it is now emerging as a force to reckon with; I see the focus on digital media growing. India has great potential and there are bound to be dramatic changes.

What about Cheil's expansion plans in India?

We plan to grow above and beyond Samsung now. It is for our own competitiveness and the value that it would bring to our existing business. Also, people here need to grow into a wider breadth of experience-I think we have a fantastic competitive advantage, having been part of Samsung's extraordinary growth and success in India. They have emerged as smartphone giants and as leaders in the new-technology televisions space, and Cheil has been part of that growth story, as well as having learnt a lot from it. I believe we can now leverage our breadth of skills-in everything from conventional media to new media to unusual retail formats-for other industries, other brands.

How do you plan to tackle the challenges being posed by social networking sites?

Yes, social media may have challenged the traditional advertising thinking but it's opened up huge opportunities. As I told you earlier, we have a plan to dramatically strengthen our digital team to make use of this opportunity-by the end of the year the team would be doubled.

Cheil had a very successful run at Cannes this year. Tell us something about the Home Plus campaign.
The idea was not a first for us-we crafted it last year, and it won us a bronze medal at the Media Grand Prix. At the 2011 Cannes Media, Cheil received a total of five awards, including the Media Grand Prix, four golds (1 in media, 2 in direct, 1 in outdoor), achieving the best record in history.

The prize winning campaign was the Virtual Subway Store Campaign. It was a sequel to our outdoor campaign project. Cheil used the picture of a Home Plus Store, complete with its product-stacked shelves, on a subway screen door. Not only was it was easy to spot, people could browse through the individual products as lined up in an actual store, they could shop too.

In this 'virtual store' at a subway station, we added smartphone technology that recognises product information with a QR code. This enabled people to actually shop at the virtual store, making it a unique combination of online/offline campaign.

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