Sam Balsara teaches Advertising via Xpert

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About Sam Balsara

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  • What made you choose marketing as a career?
  • Madison even have a rural marketing cell. Why did you create that?
  • The advertising business is substantially dominated by foreign-owned agencies. Most of the Indian clients are going to foreign-owned agencies too. You do not have the foreign affiliations that almost all your competitors have. And yet, today Madison is the number two media buying agency. How did you achieve this?
  • What do you make of the new media launches and the increasing clutter (to which we have added our own)?
  • What are your plans regarding the future of Madison?
  • A lot of senior people tend to back all your initiatives, what do you attribute these to Sam Balsara, the individual or because of the work that Madison has done?
  • What is your opinion about Internet as a medium ? Has it lived up to its potential?
  • Adnova started as very ambitious project and the industry had a lot of expectations from it. Why do you think it failed to pick up ? Was it too early or it is because of mindset issues?
  • What is the role of innovation in media planning? How does one balance it with reach and frequency?
  • Tell us about your latest outdoor services venture. What kind of a gap in the market is your outdoor services firm going to cater to?
  • What is your opinion on Media independents? What kind of an impact will media independent arms like Mindshare have on the Indian market place? Do you think they will lead to better practices and efficiencies in media planning?
  • One of the earliest mantras of Madison was that if it is safe, its risky. What do you mean by this?
  • What do you attribute the trend of having separate creative agency and a separate media planning / buying entity?
  • Don’t you think more and more media planning is buying led? Shouldn’t it be otherwise?
  • Can tou tell us about the various sister companies that Madison has?
  • How does one train a fresh entrant into media planning / buying ? Is there a lack of skilled, good people ?
  • What in your opinion are the key trends being witnessed in the Indian Media and advertising over the last one year?
  • Earlier this year (2019), you had presented the 10-year challenge. If you could go back to 2008-09, what are the things that you would want to change in the advertising industry?
  • What was your most important learning of your first job?
  • We have recently seen a spate of agency restructures and the rise of network agencies again. You were one of the first agencies decades ago to split media and creative services. Where do you think the agency structure is headed today?
  • Do you think programmatic is taking over? What will the media function of the future look like?
  • How are you making your team at Madison programmatic-ready?
  • Over the years, Madison has taken on a lot of blue-chip clients and built up a very select portfolio of clients. How has Madison’s business strategy evolved over the years? Do you see Madison relying on less organic growth now?
  • One still remembers the time you announced the setting up of Madison in 1988. What really got you to take the plunge at that time?
  • Why did you move from marketing to advertising?
  • Did you speak with some of your clients before you really set up Madison?
  • Can it be said that during your Mudra years, Cinthol was really flying high with its flamboyant advertising which got you into the limelight pretty fast?
  • Madison has grown considerably and now it is a multi-brand agency. You started off as a full-service agency – and though you still have components of a full-service agency. Why?
  • Do you still believe that thinking small, as you say, is the recipe of Madison’s success?
  • In these 25 years, what in your view, are a couple of high points that changed the course of your agency?
  • On one level you are competing with WPP, and on another you are partnering them – how does this work for you?
  • How do you make sure that all 22 units of Madison work towards the same goal, and that there is the same spirit of excellence?
  • One of the advantages or disadvantages of Madison is Sam Balsara. How have you managed to ensure that even as the organisation does not get too impacted by your persona, it reaps the benefits of it at the same time?
  • One of the advantages or disadvantages of Madison is Sam Balsara. How have you managed to ensure that even as the organisation does not get too impacted by your persona, it reaps the benefits of it at the same time?
  • What is the key differentiator that distinguishes Madison from the rest of the pack? Has it changed across the years?
  • Why did you choose client servicing?
  • The media space is now changing at a fast pace – digital is growing. What is your strategy to adapt and cope with the changing media space?
  • Have you made any structural changes in the organisation as the digital is growing?
  • As the big strive to get bigger in the media space through mergers and acquisitons, do you see the scene getting more complex for Madison?
  • In terms of future, where do you see Madison grow in the next 5 years?
  • Are there areas in the last 25 years where you think that, given a chance, you would have done things differently?
  • In terms of your agency, is there anything that you think you could have done differently?
  • Who would be the key people without whom Madison would not be where it is today?
  • You work with a number of global networks – is there anyone you would want to emulate in terms of their practices and processes?
  • What is your biggest learning as the head of Madison?
  • If you had to look back and give yourself a self-score on a scale of 1 to 10, what would it be?
  • Some path-breaking global advertising has come from cigarette companies - the Marlboro Man or the Virginia Slims campaign for women (‘You have come a long way baby’). What are your views on this?
  • What was the learning at Mudra? How was it different?
  • What were the two or three things you have really learned and liked doing at Mudra which prepared you for turning into an entrepreneur.
  • Madison has subsequently grown very fast and is now the second largest agency in media buying and that too without any foreign affiliation. How did this happen?

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