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In a market like Chennai, every agency’s fortune lies in the SME segment: Kaushik Tiwari

07-December-2009
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In a market like Chennai, every agency’s fortune lies in the SME segment: Kaushik Tiwari

Last April, Kaushik Tiwari, former Publicis Ambience’s South Head, decided to float a full-fledged advertising agency, christened Fresh Lime Communications. The agency started with one of the biggest infrastructure accounts – MARG Constructions – in its roster. Interestingly, this account also remains the agency’s biggest client till date.

After an eventful year and a half, as the agency’s MD and erstwhile planner, Tiwari tells exchange4media, he is happy with the overall performance and is proud of the fact that in a short span, the agency has already added ready to wear, healthcare, media, retail, FMCG, education, infrastructure, laundry and homecare to its roster.

The Chennai-based agency’s recent wins include Klin Wrap, Chennai Live, Exemplarr, a BPO company, Zara to name a few. What makes this agency even more special is that all the accounts have come on board without pitching.

Tiwari said, “As a policy, Fresh Lime doesn’t participate in pitches. Word of mouth, clarity in thought, openness to new ideas, high level of trust, and above all, the engaging result-oriented work are what have endeared the agency to clients across categories.”

He strongly felt that in a market like Chennai, every agency’s fortune lay with the SME segment. And Fresh Lime has been precisely modeled to service the SMEs. Most SMEs don’t have full fledge marketing set-ups, in most cases they are run by first generation entrepreneurs, who need a lot of hand holding, they basically need agencies that can also double up as their marketing wings.

According to him, SMEs were not that comfortable working with big agencies. Contrary to popular belief that small clients could not afford big agencies, it was actually the lack of attention that annoyed SMEs, Tiwari said, adding “That is why serious creative shops have flourished in the last decade and have given stiff competition to the top rung agencies.”

What Fresh Lime brings to the table was “big agency expertise and solutions at not so big agency rates,” he maintained. In fact, Tiwari sees the agency playing a much larger role than merely making profits. He also felt that there was ample room in Chennai for more such creative shops to completely dedicate themselves to SMEs.

When asked why start an agency just before the slowdown, Tiwari said that the downturn never really affected the agency for the simple reason that the clients kept feeding them with adequate work and because of the size and retainer business model.

He further said that the recession was indeed a boon for all the medium and small agencies because of the cost cutting measures adopted by big clients, though these clients were globally aligned with their incumbent agencies, they still had the liberty to outsource their work.

“With mounting overhead costs, the big agencies are not able to cope with the cost of talent. Since it does not make economical sense, they resort to leaning heavily on their offices located in the North. Without a core team to address the local needs, quality takes a beating and there is a severe compromise in services rendered. That apart, you won’t find too many generous clients in Chennai when it comes to paying robust retainers. So, life has become doubly tough for big agency models. Since clients’ all over value ‘brand custodianship’, agencies like Fresh Lime will continue to flourish,” Tiwari asserted.

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