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Havas Group Chairman and CEO, Yannik Bollore on the future of media and entertainment

Havas Group's Chairman and CEO, Yannick Bollore talks about the future of the Group, Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter and the impact of negative macroeconomics on business and more.

By  CNBC-TV18Dec 14, 2022 9:59 AM
Havas Group Chairman and CEO, Yannik Bollore on the future of media and entertainment
"In terms of manufacturers and demographics, we are keeping India in mind because it is going to be the country with the largest population. So, India is a place for huge opportunities among all the regions." - Yannick Bollore, Chairman and CEO, Havas Group. (Image via Twitter - @HavasGroup)

Following a brief gap, CNBCTV-18 has returned with its premier show Marquee Nights, where host Anuradha SenGupta indulges in fascinating and unplugged conversations with heads of top companies from various sectors. This time, SenGupta caught up with Yannick Bollore, Chairman of Vivendi and Chairman and CEO of Havas Group. The host spoke to Bollore about various topics including the growth of Havas Group in India, Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the impact of negative macroeconomics and politics on business and much more. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

After four years – two of those were the pandemic – what is your quest Yannick? What is this journey all about?

It is my first trip to Asia after the pandemic. I can't believe it has been four years since I haven’t been to India. It was very important to come back, and the choice of India and Southeast Asia is very important.

Firstly, India is the fastest-growing economy. When I started as the CEO 10 years ago, we were small in India. I visited Delhi and found out that if we invest in this market, we will get good returns.

On a more personal note, I enjoy being in India because Indians are the opposite of the French. People in France are always complaining, never happy about the present or the future. On the other hand, if you look at India, they are super chill, they have love and it feels is a great pleasure to be here in India.

Your expectations with the Indian market especially in terms of growth seem very high. What would you like to say about that?

No, in terms of growth even if it’s slow, it is perfect. So, in terms of growth, India is still a better place than others. I still have the expectations and hope we continue to do the best in India now we have people here and we are applying for acquisitions also.

You have a business in China, and we saw how, after the pandemic, the world sees China and the global supply chain, there’s a lot of work that is happening. Do you think there is a bigger opportunity for India?

We have a different strategy with that, keeping in mind the government policies in terms of services, in terms of manufacturers, in terms of demographics. We are keeping India in mind because it is going to be the country with the largest population. So, India is a place for huge opportunities among all the regions.

"In terms of growth, India is still a better place than others. I still have the expectations and hope we continue to do the best in India now we have people here and we are applying for acquisitions also."

The pandemic has left everyone with massive disruptions. If you dream across all functions, values, brands, and businesses in this media landscape, how will you achieve your goal?

To address this, we are getting in contact with the local media, using PR, and finding all the best media resources.

What are your thoughts about the Havas village model that was earlier and how is it different from the existing or the traditional model?

You see, the communication groups and agencies are very self-centered sometimes. The agency concept is too complex, so it is very important to manage good relations with them. I have many CEO friends out there, we come across together to solve this complex agency concept. We have created a culture in the room, and we are competitors beyond the room.

The industry is shrinking, and Gameloft is increasing its popularity. Can you tell us more about this?

During Covid and after that, the gaming industry had seen drastic changes and has been booming. The sole reason for that is the high-quality games that they make and give to gamers. The OTT platforms like Netflix and others are launching their games. The good-quality games are more attractive.

What are your views about the metaverse?

To answer your question, we need to look at the definition of Metaverse, because there are two ways to see it. Metaverse is a social platform that must be used correctly.

What are your thoughts about the traditional TV business?

Traditional TV business is getting replaced with the new model of OTT. It has changed the way people consume content. Before I'm going to ask about the last of the Bollywood movies on the last episode of a ratio, you had to go in front of the TV to wait for the time or watch some advertisement or want to go to see their show world series, movies, anytime, anywhere on the device. So, we need to be able to digitize this. We were competing against the Google group which produces content across multiple countries and continents, so they have much more subscribers.

"Indians are the opposite of the French. People in France are always complaining, never happy about the present or the future. On the other hand, if you look at India, they are super chill, they have love and it feels is a great pleasure to be here in India."

Netflix was successful with its subscription-based model but today, we find that the subscription revenues are going down and players are thinking of returning to advertisement. What would you like to say about it? Are people willing to pay top dollar for high-quality entertainment?

I believe that when I look at the numbers, we see people willing to pay for high-quality content. Statistics of our survey claim that 83% of the respondents feel that global entertainment, be it the movies, magazines, is vital. It helps develop their culture. So, I believe that the price battle gets favourable for us as the subscription price of a platform is very competitive to that of going to a nice restaurant.

Talking about spending huge shifts and abrupt shifts. But this is a story that has been consuming everybody who's interested in the media, Twitter, Elon Musk, tweeting is remaking Twitter in the public view is taking the company private, affordable billion dollars in full public view. And he's saying that the revenues are going to be a problem. So, let's go for subscription revenues are exactly the opposite of what of course they don't compare what Twitter offers and what Netflix does.

When Elon Musk took the leadership of Tesla, people were thinking that the plan won’t work, be it the launch of the rockets in space and everything else in the car manufacturing arena, but it did. One of my good friends is a CEO of the European space industry. And when it was announced that Tesla launched a rocket, everyone was laughing.

In the case of Twitter, we should not think about the blue certification for $8 An ounce on advertising. We need to make sure to be responsible, and ensure that our clients are investing in a safe environment. So, I've been receiving emails on the transparency review, like three days a week for the last four weeks, explained by the Twitter advertising team. Nothing has changed. We need to make sure that the environment is safe for brands to be cautious about any possible backlash.

I need to ask you about the advertising versus subscription dilemma.

People are creating huge follower bases on Twitter for free and are helping their businesses run from that platform. The question is, will those followers be ready to pay for a similar online model.

Those who attended the event included Rahul Joshi, MD and Group Editor-in-Chief NW18, Management, Smriti Mehra, CEO - Business News, Network18, Rana Barua of Havas Media and Kranti Gada of Shemaroo, Partha Sinha of BCCL; Shubhranshu Singh of Tata Motors, Bobby Pawar of Havas Group, Raj Naik of House of Cheers, Sapangeet Rajwant of Viacom18, Sidharth Shakdher of Disney+ Hotstar and Bruno Bronquard, Regional Director - West IFCCI.

First Published on Dec 13, 2022 7:29 PM