Spanning over an exemplary journey at GroupM Pakistan; from Assistant Media Planner to the Managing Director of Mindshare Pakistan, her drive for something challenging and fresh has garnered her great heights of success. Beginning her career from Colgate Palmolive to Candyland and then GroupM Pakistan, Kiran Khan Ali is known amongst the fastest growing individual at GroupM with regards to career progression. She hit for the stars in 2007, being promoted to Senior Media Planner and then becoming the Head of Planning Unilever business in 2008.
She has been a foremost player of multiple globally acclaimed campaigns, representing GroupM Pakistan as Training Leader for the Global GroupM. She has achieved numerous awards for GroupM under her continuous strive of hard work and struggle to reach for nothing less than the best. Recently, nominated and achieving GroupM’s most prestigious “Big 5” award in Emmies, Kiran has proved herself with all 5 GroupM values. Claiming victory with Mindshare’s recent “Pakistan Digital Agency of the Year 2016” award, there is much more to come from Kiran Khan Ali and Mindshare Pakistan!
BM: With a vast journey of over 11 years, what challenges did you come across and how did you tackle them?
KK: Its obviously been challenging but I have always belonged to that school of thought, which focuses fully on work and what they are set to do without wasting time on politics or any other activity. While talking about the media industry, it is still a male dominant society, whereas women have penetrated in other industries and work cohesively in equity with men. Nevertheless at GroupM, work is based on merit with gender equality. Things like gender biasness, class biasness and religious affairs may be dealt in many firms across the country, but I can proudly say that they do not exist here in GroupM.
BM: What new ideas do you have regarding promotion of the brands you handle? How do you tend to enhance it more?
KK: As far as the idea of promoting brands is concerned, Mindshare and GroupM at large have never proceeded with any PR campaigns, since for us our work does the talking. It has worked for us so far and I believe that it will most definitely work in the future. The only thing that we have currently laid focus on is to bag big and renowned awards, attaining achievements and proving the fact that we deserve to be called the No. 1 agency. We believe that we have done all the agencies “firsts”, continuing with the most innovations and setting trends in the market. Claiming all these three aspects, we surely deserve to win the highest awards both on national and global scales. These awards don’t only give you recognition and name in the market, but also provide you with expanded business avenues.
BM: How would you associate the companies running under the umbrella of GroupM; Maxus, MEC & Mindshare?
KK: When talking about GroupM and the agencies running under its umbrella, I feel really passionate about the association. One of the reasons why I love working here is whether it’s Mindshare, MEC, Maxus or GroupM as a whole; you will find the same work environment. Whether you visit GroupM Pakistan, India or Sri Lanka, we all work in a synchronized manner with the same culture and work ethics. Also in terms of business, the global clients that we have here are mostly dealt in our regional offices. This synchronization leads to an easy and positive regional interaction and sharing of ideas across countries, worldwide. The only reason of having the ‘GroupM Umbrella’ is running a large sized organization in the media industry; we tend to get the lowest rates that basically help us with scale and growth. So this breakdown among Mindshare, Maxus, and MEC helps us on a large scale.
BM: How do you plan on incorporating new talent and skill to the industry and work for the betterment of the company?
KK: Heading Mindshare with more than 25 clients, Unilever being the largest, one aspect that we have conferred is visualizing the digital penetration from 2013 to 2016, which has grown the business to a three digit increase – nearly 125%. With this inevitable growth, new businesses and clients are keen to venture into the digital advertising medium. So today, I proudly state that we have proven ourselves as the largest and biggest digital agency, especially after winning the “Pakistan Digital Agency of the Year 2016” award. We were and still are the biggest traditional and digital agency of Pakistan with respect to the clients we own and the size of billing. Since our digital venture began, we have won 10 new digital businesses in the past year. Therefore, be it print, electronic, outdoor or digital, we offer all services to the market at large.
BM: How did the clients face the digital boom?
KK: Initially, most clients thought that digital is basically Facebook advertising, which is actually a very small chunk when you talk about digital as a whole. So, the first step we took was to spread the knowledge about digital amongst the clients that was easier in bigger and multinational companies, which are more media savvy. Being the trend setters, the second step was capability building. It’s like when I say that Mindshare Pakistan is a digital organization; I mean that our people are 100% capable in terms of being trained globally about the digital market shift along with being Google certified. I can proudly say that people who are going from our market for all these trainings to Facebook or Google are probably the highest.
Today, it’s not about TV planning or buying but in fact, we call it video planning as it’s no more about TVCs or TV spot anymore. Secondly, the multiscreen phenomenon has greatly increased, since a consumer while watching TV is busy with his mobile phone in one hand and an iPad in another. This has undoubtedly made it difficult to catch consumers, but the level of opportunities has risen immensely.
Hence, initially it was little challenging in converting clients from the traditional buying medium to digital, however, now they are changing as rapidly as ever. There are hardly any clients working with Mindshare or GroupM today that are not doing digital marketing.
BM: Any specific selling point a client asks for when opting for digital?
KK: One of the biggest things as a marketer regarding digital is that it is cost efficient and more measurable than any other medium. In digital marketing it is very easy to get your client with the exact statistics to market his brand, where and with whom he wants to be seen, whereas when an ad is placed on electronic medium in marketing terms, we claim that it is mostly wasted and shown to those customers who do not wish or have the necessity of that product. However, both traditional and digital marketing go hand in hand since digital still needs time to take over the market, as it has globally. So, we basically call it integrated media planning, as one big idea across all mediums is what does the magic.
BM: With the boom in digital marketing, where do you see print and electronic media with respect to media planning and buying?
KK: I believe it will evolve in a different way. For print – more and more people are reading it online now so that there is an opportunity. For electronic media – most of the agencies have their own Facebook pages along with their official websites, with a huge following and traffic rate. In fact these evolvements are actually very interesting, how all mediums will gradually grow, bringing a new range of opportunities for both the client and customer.
BM: What factors made you what you are today?
KK: Keeping my head down and focusing on my work; ‘Work – life – balance’ has just become a phrase in our life. Being a female, keeping my family and team happy was my main aspect. So, I always tell my team the same thing to keep going ahead without focusing on what people are saying or getting into any politics, because that is what will take you to your end goal. Secondly, the support of my parents and husband have taken me this far, since we have to balance our professional and personal life as well.
BM: What more to expect from Kiran Khan Ali?
KK: Professionally, in terms of awards and saying it in the most humble manner, apart from succeeding at such a fast pace that I completely owe to my seniors and great mentors, I want to see my team succeed as fast as I did. I gained immense respect and recognition from winning “Asian Woman Leadership Award” and the “Big 5” – recognizing the five GroupM values namely; Focus On Excellence, Pioneer, Respect Individuality, Life Should Be Fun & Power of One, which basically summed up teamwork skills in a 360 degree dimension. So, I want to impose these qualities in my team players, and want them to win these awards and outshine their talent globally.