Mindshare is the latest agency to set up an international hub in India, broadening the scope of its mobile practice in Mumbai to serve global clients.
Mindshare, part of WPP's Group M, has had a mobile team in Mumbai since 2007 that handles 55% of mobile-ad campaigns in the Indian marketplace, including work for Nike , HSBC and Ford, according to Alice Manners, Group M Interaction chief operating officer, Asia-Pacific.
The group also executed campaigns elsewhere in Asia, but India has been a priority because of its off-the-charts mobile usage. As of December, there were 894 million mobile subscribers in the country, second only to China, driven by a highly competitive market with low rates and handset prices.
Mindshare executives decided they could use the practice to help clients outside of the region scale their mobile offerings, since the cost of executing a mobile campaign in India can be one-third that for similar work in the U.S. or Western Europe, according to Norm Johnston, Mindshare's global digital leader.
"We're letting all our global clients access this team to produce high-quality work at a lower cost," said Mr. Johnston. He noted that the 20-person mobile team in Mumbai, which includes developers and graphic designers, could double in the next year, since five global clients are already interested.
"As the need for more mobile content increases dramatically, it becomes cost-prohibitive to do it locally," Mr. Johnston added.
The Mumbai team was repositioned with a global focus last month. It's intended to have a full-service offering encompassing both strategy and development and to serve as a production hub for HTML5 content, mobile apps, websites and ad units, though there will still be mobile strategists and other practitioners in other Mindshare offices around the world.
Mindshare isn't the first agency to stake out a global presence in India. Sibling WPP agency Ogilvy & Mather has had a digital hub in Bangalore since late 2007, originally to service its Lenovo account. It now has two other global clients and 180 employees, including creative directors, account executives, and production and digital staff, according to Poran Malani, who oversees the hub as president-digital at Ogilvy & Mather, Bangalore. About 10% of Ogilvy's Bangalore employees are expatriates from countries such as England, France, Australia and Cameroon.
The main imperative for locating the hub in India wasn't cost-cutting, according to Mr. Malani. It happened to be ideal for Lenovo, as India was one of the markets outside of China where the company had been successful with consumers. Lenovo also set up its own global marketing hub in Bangalore in mid-2007.
"India hadn't done any international advertising, so we had to do it from scratch," said Mr. Malani, who noted that it's been easier to hire and train employees in India than it would have been in other markets since Indians are English-speaking and have a "creative heritage." "We were very lucky to be ahead of the game."