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 Percept in the News

Talking Heads with Manish Porwal
22 December, 2008

Manish Porwal is the CEO, Percept Talent Management (PTM) since January 2008. He joined FCB-Ulka (now Draft-FCB-Ulka) in 1995 handling media planning and buying in Lodestar. In 1998, he joined Everest Advertising (now Everest Brand Solutions) where he became country's youngest national media director. In 2000, he moved to Vijay TV to head their broadcast sales, marketing & programme acquisition & syndication. 

BBC World was the next stop, where he was the regional sales manager (West and East). In 2003, he joined Starcom as the general manager, where he headed the India investment team and was also in-charge of new business and diversification initiatives. He was later appointed as the managing director, Starcom Worldwide - India (West & South) in 2007.

Given the huge requirements of brands these days, is the talent management industry getting more organised by the day?
Certainly. Everything that stars earn, minus their core professions (acting in movies for film stars and playing matches for cricketers) is the total worth of the talent management industry. At last count, the industry was worth Rs.600 crore odd. 

Till about 8 years ago, nearly 90-100 per cent of the talent management business was run by Safari suit clad secretaries of film stars and cricketers. In contrast, by the close of this year, over 60 per cent of the industry is organised, while the rest 40 per cent will be knocking on the doors of being organised.

Where do the revenues for talent management companies like yours come from?
For most small talent management companies 100 per cent of revenues is one-sided and comes from managing the celebrity in question. However, for an organised big player like us, about 40 per cent of the revenues come from managing celebrities per se. 

Smaller players do not have a brand sales machinery and are dependent on the hope that demand comes in. In fact, over 14 per cent of the entire 40 per cent of the talent management business in the industry comes from us. The rest are mostly one man armies, who thrive on the back of a good network with a few big celebrities. 

Why only Bollywood and Cricket?
You're right! Over 95 per cent of the Rs.600 crore talent management business comes from Bollywood and Cricket. At Percept, now we are bent on focusing outside this haloed circle. We are now focusing on corporate and political talent too. 

Take Piyush Pandey, he's a great talent to hire. Maybe not for TV ads, but he'll work wonders for road shows, performances and appearances, because he has credibility. 

The same holds true for a Nandan Nilekani, his credibility and face will lend big bonus to any brand or company. Similarly, a Rajnikant or a Laloo Prasad Yadav can also do so much. Political endorsements are still nascent in India, but are 100 per cent available to do. 

Is there an over-exposure of celebrity endorsements in India today?
Love it or hate it, but you can't ignore it. We have still not reached the peak has. Even the 70th guy in cricket is still getting endorsements. Having said that however, in India, endorsements need to mature to brand ambassadorship, which is a reality in the West. 

To an extent, Shah Rukh Khan does it in India. He lives and breathes the brand and talks about it at every given opportunity and at every forum. Brand Ambassadorship must mature in India and only this will actually take celeb branding to a higher level in the country.

What more needs to be done to make the industry more organised and soon?
The talent management business today is transactional. It's not planned and executed well. Presently we are mere brokers, but Percept is talking to a lot of companies to become their talent managers. The world over, brokers do not get a lot of money, but consultants earn a lot. We want to become consultants.

PTM is getting an Index to track the star power, which will function as a currency for understanding and trading in stars?
We are launching an CelebTrack index, which will be released twice a year and will measure star power on multiple parameters such as popularity, power of persuasion and scientific mapping of brand and star attributes. The project is being implemented by PTM in association with Hansa Research.

Advertisers and media companies will have a scientific way to measure and calculate appropriate fees charged by celebrities. Apart from brand endorsements per se, the track would aid advertisers in choosing stars for localised activation and below-the-line promotions. The currency would additionally help broadcasters in choosing anchors for reality shows or for appearances on promotional shows.