Unilever Indonesia boss warns awards-chasing agencies ‘never forget your purpose’

Hemet Bakshi, president director, Unilever Indonesia at Asia Pacific Media Forum this morning

Hement Bakshi presents at Asia Pacific Media Forum this morning

The head of one Unilever’s most important global markets, Indonesia, said today that agencies should not forget their purpose in their pursuit of awards.

Talking to Mumbrella after making the opening presentation at the Asia Pacific Media Forum in Bali this morning, Hemant Bakshi, president director of Unilever Indonesia, was asked what he thought of agencies producing a large volume of work to help good causes at this time of year, just before the deadline for Cannes Lions.

“I personally think there’s nothing wrong with awards,” he said. “Therefore if you do quality work and it gets recognised, we all want that. But when work is done for awards and not for the consumer then that is shallow, it’s unauthentic. It’s honestly not worth it.”

“We should never forget why we’re here. We’re here to serve our consumers. Agencies are there to help us tell better stories. That’s their purpose. Their purpose is not just to win awards.”

Bakshi’s comments came after he delivered a candid presentation to media executives, warning against complacency at a time of great change.

Unilever’s target audience that just a few years ago was reachable almost entirely by television in Indonesia, has shifted dramatically, Bakshi commented.

“Sixty per cent of consumers see our advertising on TV a lot. But after that you can double or triple spend [on television], but you cannot go beyond 70% [reach]. Eighty million people [in Indonesia] can’t be reached through television anymore,” he said.

Bakshi shared a story about a meeting he had had with the head of a big advertising agency recently.

“He said, ‘I’ve heard that agencies are going to die, but business is good, I’m not worried.’ But I say to him that change is not far away, change is very much here.”

“We’ve managed change before. But this is different. We’ve never seen change like this,” said Bakshi, who added that his company, which is the world’s largest advertiser, is going through a period of significant transition to adapt to a consumer landscape upended by technology.

“Our organisation has to be reshaped. A completely new Unilever has to be ready to take on a completely new world,” he said.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing