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Global CEO Vikram Sakhuja says Maxus sees itself as a navigator for companies trying to understand and maximise opportunities in the digital age.

Global CEO Vikram Sakhuja says Maxus sees itself as a navigator for companies trying to understand and maximise opportunities in the digital age.

In the fast-moving world that is the digital age, media agency Maxus is undertaking some rapid acceleration of its own.

Launched five years ago, the company, which describes itself as the only media agency born in the digital age, has risen to become the fastest-growing media agency network in the world four years running with 2012 billings in excess of $1bn, according to media evaluators RECMA.

With 30 percent growth in 2012, thanks to overall global activity increasing from $6.77bn to $8.79bn, it was also named by RECMA as the twelfth-largest media agency in the world. Among its clients are global giants such as Fiat, Barclays, Church and Dwight and UPS in a network that spans 2,000 employees across 55 markets.

And that’s not counting powerful local clients such as BT and Associated British Foods in the UK, Telecom India, Bolton in Italy, NBC Universal in the US, Tata Sky in India and Shanghai Auto Group in China.

All this and with no hierarchy or set structures — Maxus has a CEO based in Mumbai, CSO in London and CFO in Singapore and places client teams where clients’ headquarters are.

So what is the key to Maxus’ success?

As global CEO Vikram Sakhuja explains, Maxus sees itself as something of a navigator for companies trying to understand and maximise opportunities in the digital age.

At the core of its approach is what it terms “relationship media” and a philosophy it describes as “Leaning into Change”.

“It’s coming from a contextual reality that never before have marketers been so uncertain about how to manage the media market environment,” Sakhuja explains during a visit to Dubai.

What was once seen as a “game changer” six or seven years ago, now provided “only a six-month advantage over others”.

He says marketing communication had become two-way, while people power had come in via the social media element that has proliferated through the Arab Spring. As a result, the marketing industry has become festooned with fancy new terms such as “entraption to engagement” and “paid, owned, earned media”.

“These are all the kind of changes which have happened very fast,” he says. “Normally, these are things which happen in maybe a generation. But we are seeing it all — in a matter of five years, marketing has been redefined. The big joker in the pack is the digital game, because it’s no longer a medium, it’s a platform.”

Sakhuja says conventional media planning was about reach, frequency, share of voice and continuity.

But at Maxus, the planning process involved four steps — “mining the complexity, making the complex simple, making the simple magical and making the magical live”.

 “The essence of relationship media is putting the consumer at the centre,” he says.

“It looks a lot like brand consumer interactions with different media and in each one the game is how can we actually increase the relationship with the consumer by using the media around you.”

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