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Delhi becomes hotbed for creative entrepreneurs

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Delhi becomes hotbed for creative entrepreneurs

‘From Here On’ to ‘February’ next year, put down ideas on ‘The Page’, that are ‘Bang in the Middle’ and ensure a ‘Yang’ for the advertisers in the National Capital Region.

If the sentence by itself does not make sense, it is alright because it is really the five agencies mentioned that matter. In less than a year, these five creative independents, in addition to likes of Kettle Communication, have begun operations in either Delhi or Gurgaon. If industry buzz is to be believed, there are more in the pipeline.

It was almost five years ago when a fresh surge of creative entrepreneurs gripped the Indian advertising industry. Most of them – TapRoot, CreativeLand Asia, Scarecrow Communications, Saints & Warriors, Ideas@work, OnAds, Cut the Crap – had roots in Mumbai, the advertising hub of India. The momentum continued with launch of agencies such as Curry Nation and Salt Brand Solutions.

It appears that Delhi is home to the second entrepreneurial wave in the Indian creative industry.

Some examples: Gullu Sen and Rajesh Aggarwal’s ‘From Here On’; Sanjay Sharma and Anil Verma’s ‘Yang’; Prathap Suthan, Naresh Gupta and Viral Pandya’s ‘Bang in the Middle’; Nirmal Pulickal’s ‘February’; Karunendra Mathur’s ‘The Page’; Aatanu Chakraborty’s ‘Kettle Communication’. Soon, Emmanuel Upputuru is expected to add to the momentum.

In an earlier conversation with exchange4media, Miles Young, CEO, Ogilvy Worldwide had said that Delhi is the next frontier for advertising. He said, “Mumbai is a market of the past; Delhi is fast becoming a powerful advertising centre. Mumbai is saturated, Delhi is where the growth is.”

What makes Delhi so hot?

Destination ‘client’
A motto of sorts for any communication industry is ‘advertising is where the advertiser is’. Whether it is Coca-Cola India, PepsiCo, Bharti Airtel, Maruti Suzuki, Nokia, Sony India, Nestle or Samsung, Delhi and Gurgaon house some of the biggest ad spenders in India. From being a political power centre, Delhi has become the destination for international conglomerates.

“It is easy to interact with decision-makers when you are in Delhi. Most of the expatriates are here. It is an ideal place for exploring new opportunities for corporate and for new agencies,” said Sanjay Sharma, Managing Partner, Yang Communications.


Delhi today is where Mumbai was a few years ago both, from a marketer and top talent viewpoint. “Doing business in Delhi has become much more lucrative,” explained Karunendra Mathur who has started his own agency ‘The Page’ after quitting Montage Advertising.

Add to this the fact that advertisers today like ‘more’. The want for fresh ideas, experiment in creative brief and the will to work with more than its agency of record is making place for more players – there wasn’t a better time for independents, who are on top of their game, to flourish.

Opportunities galore
There is a perception that many mid-sized agencies in Mumbai and Bangalore thrive on a single substantial account. But Delhi, given the sheer size and the dynamic nature of the market defies the perception. There is no dearth of business in Delhi and the advertisers there are on a growth path implying more opportunities for agencies. Sharma informed that one of Yang’s client ‘Luminous’ plans to expand to international markets, which will give the company bandwidth to experiment with a start-up and probably take more than one agency on board.

The second or third generation Indian businessmen, who are in substantial numbers in Delhi, are also more evolved seeking professionals for their communication needs. “I am from Mumbai but I decided to start from Delhi, as I could see the opportunities in this market which are unparallel to any other in India,” Sharma asserted.

One of the prime reasons for Mumbai to have reigned over Delhi as the advertising hub was the financial capital’s proximity to the Indian film industry. Proliferation of digital and advertisers attuning their plans to digital media has altered the game.

Change the game: the digital effect
As brands move towards engagement-driven digital campaigns, TVCs have a very specific role to play. In a sense, it frees agencies from dependence on the film industry.

“Advertising is competing on the strength of an idea rather than power of big names from the entertainment industry. The purity of idea brings new and old on a level-playing field. Film, activation or digital would just be means of expressing the idea. Delhi’s advantage is that unlike Mumbai, the idea business is not linked to only film here,” said Emmanuel Upputuru, National Creative Director, Publicis India, who too is exiting the MNC agency life to start an agency on his own.

“The country is mutating itself from traditional to digital,” remarked Prathap Suthan, who has co-founded Bang in the Middle. He explained how new-age media presents opportunities for everyone. He said, “Digital medium has given power to people to come out independently and challenge traditional norms. Spending on digital is far more beneficial than spending on traditional media. Digital rupee is far more effective.”

Delhi Delhi Bang Bang
Whether it was proximity to political power and policy makers or the luxury of space and infrastructure that pushed advertisers to choose the National Capital Region to be their corporate headquarter in India, the writing was on the wall for agencies’ future market of focus too. The promise of opportunities and growth has made Delhi the location-to-be for start-ups. Will this tilt the creative balance in favour of the capital city? One will soon find out...


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