After a brief hiatus, CNBCTV-18 is back with its premiere show, Marquee Nights, in which host Anuradha SenGupta engages in fascinating and offbeat conversations with CEOs of top companies from various industries. This time, SenGupta met with Yannick Bolloré, President of Vivendi and CEO of the Havas Group. The host chatted with Bolloré on various topics, including the growth of Havas Group in India, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, negative macroeconomic and political impact on business and much more. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.
Four years later – including two pandemics – what is your pursuit of Yannick? What is the subject of this trip?
Yannick Bollor: This is my first trip to Asia after the pandemic. I can’t believe it’s been four years since I’ve been to India. It was very important to return, and the selection of India and Southeast Asia was very important.
First, India is the fastest growing economy. When I started as CEO 10 years ago, we were young in India. I went to Delhi and found that if we invest in this market we will get good returns.
On a personal note, I love being in India because Indians are not like the French. People in France are always irritable, and never happy about the present or the future. On the other hand, if you look at India, it is so wonderful and there is love and I am happy to be here in India.
Anuradha Sengupta: Your expectations with the Indian market, especially in terms of growth, seem very high. What do you want to say about this?
Yannick Bollor: No, in terms of growth even if it is slow, it is perfect. So, in terms of growth, India is still a better place than others. I still have expectations and I hope we continue to do the best we can in India now that we have people here and also apply for acquisition.
Anuradha Sengupta: You have business in China, and we’ve seen how the post-pandemic world views China and the global supply chain, there’s a lot of work going on. Do you think there are more opportunities for India?
Yannick Bollor: We have a different strategy with this, looking at government policies in terms of services, in terms of manufacturers, in terms of demographics. We are keeping India in mind as it will be the most populous country. Hence, India is a place with huge opportunities among all regions.
Anuradha Sengupta: The pandemic has caused massive disruption to everyone. If you dreamed of all the professions, values, brands and companies in this media landscape, how would you achieve your goal?
Yannick – To solve this problem, we reach out to local media, use public relations and find the best media resources.
Anuradha Sengupta: What do you think of the old Havas village model and how is it different from the current or traditional model?
Yannick Bollor: You see, groups and communication agencies are sometimes too self-centered. The concept of agency is very complex, so it is very important to manage a good relationship with them. I have many CEO friends and we got together to solve this complex concept of agency. We’ve created a culture in the room and we’re competitive outside the room.
Anuradha Sengupta: The industry is shrinking and Gameloft is increasing in popularity. Can you tell us more about this?
Yannick Bollor: During and after Covid, the gaming industry has undergone dramatic change and is thriving. The only reason for this is the high quality of the games they make and provide to the players. OTT platforms like Netflix etc publish their games. High-quality games are more attractive.
Anuradha Sengupta: What do you think of Metaverse?
Yannick Bollor: To answer your question, we need to look at the definition of the Metaverse, because there are two ways of looking at it. Metaverse is a social platform that must be used properly.
Anuradha Sengupta: What do you think of the traditional TV sector?
Yannick Bollor: The traditional TV business has been replaced by the new model of OTT. It has changed the way people consume content. Before asking about the latest Bollywood movies in the latest episode of Rapa, you had to pass in front of the TV to wait the time, watch some commercials, or want to go watch their international serials. And movies anytime and anywhere on the device. So we have to be able to digitize it. We were competing with a Google group that produces content in many countries and continents, so it has more subscribers.
Anuradha Sengupta: Netflix has been successful with its subscription-based model, but today we’re seeing a decline in subscription revenue and gamers are considering returning to advertising. what do you mean by that? Are people willing to pay top value for quality entertainment?
Yannick Bollor: I think when I look at the numbers, we see people willing to pay for quality content. Survey statistics show that 83% of respondents believe that global entertainment, whether it be movies or magazines, is vital. This helps develop their culture. Therefore, I think the price battle is on our side because the price of registering on the platform is very competitive with the price of going to a good restaurant.
Anuradha Sengupta: We’re talking about making a huge makeover and a sudden makeover. But this story has consumed everyone who cares about the media, as Twitter, Elon Musk, and Twitter are reshaping Twitter in public opinion by making it a private, affordable company with billions of dollars in public view. He says revenue will be an issue. So let’s just say that subscription revenue is the opposite of what you’re doing of course comparing what Twitter is doing to what Netflix is doing.
Yannick Bollor: When Elon Musk took over Tesla, people thought the plan wouldn’t work, whether it was launching rockets into space and everything else in the automaker’s backyard, but it worked. One of my good friends is the CEO of the European airline industry. And when it was announced that Tesla had launched a rocket, everyone laughed.
In the case of Twitter, we shouldn’t be thinking about the blue certificate for $8 an ounce for advertising. We have to make sure that we are accountable, and that we make sure that our clients are investing in a safe environment. I’ve been getting transparency review emails like three days a week for the past four weeks, which Twitter’s advertising team has flagged. Nothing has changed. We need to make sure the environment is safe for brands to be alert to any potential backlash.
Anuradha Sengupta: I would like to ask you a question about the dilemma between advertising and subscription.
Yannick Bollor: People build huge follower bases on Twitter for free and help their business to operate from this platform. The question is whether those subscribers are willing to pay for a similar model online.
Attendees at the event included Rahul Joshi, Managing Director and Group Editor, NW18, Management, Smriti Mehra, CEO – Business News, Network 18, Rana Barua of Havas Media and Kranti Gada of Shimaru, Partha Sinha of BCCL; Shupranshu 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.