Advertising Interviews

Manish Bhatt, Raghu Bhat

Founder Director | 13 Jul 2012

One needs to structure an agency based on advertisers’ needs. We can’t tell our client that we will give you only creative because we are a creative boutique after knowing that his need is one-stop solution for his marketing or business problem. It’s like selling a golf club without a putter.

Both Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat started their careers as engineers. They have been creative partners for the last 15 years, having worked in agencies like Ogilvy, McCann Erickson, Contract, and Ambience Publicis. Between the two, they have over 100 national and 50 international awards/ finalists, including D&AD, One Show, Clio, Cannes Lions, AdFest, Abby and CAG.

In this interaction with exchange4media’s Shree Lahiri, Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat share Scarecrow’s success story, creativity in Indian ad agencies and more...

Q. Scarecrow has been in the news of late for its back to back wins? What worked in your favour?

Every pitch we do is important for us as we are a startup. We don’t go in with a know-it-all approach. Rather, we try to attack the brief in a number of ways that showcases our creative ability. But ultimately, a pitch is also about people dynamics. Clients can give you the business even if you haven’t cracked the solution, but the client knows that you eventually will.

Q. Recently another independent agency, Taproot, was approached for acquisition by an international biggie. Have you also been approached for acquisition?

We have been approached for tie-ups. There is talk of a buyout, but we have indicated that we would wait for some time.

Q. How do you see Scarecrow’s journey so far since its inception in 2009?

The first objective was to survive. That we have done. The next objective was to thrive. We are doing okay now, but there is some way to go before we are a financially stable, strong, solid company. But we have gone beyond our expectations in every way, from accounts won, to the kind of office space and most importantly, the kind of people we have.

Q. What have been the proud moments and also have there been any moments when you wished you had taken another step, another decision?

Every new association with a client has been an emotional high. In many cases, clients have gone against the norm to hire us. This is a huge morale-booster. The other big source of satisfaction is our non-political workplace. On the flipside, sometimes, we have been taken for a ride by unscrupulous clients who have used our ideas after a minor tweak. We ought to have done our background checks before pitching for businesses like these. But this is a learning experience.

Q. Indian agencies had a dismal show at Cannes Lions this year. What do you think were the reasons for that?

Some big agencies didn’t create entries specially for Cannes this year. This led to fewer potential award winners. The overall quantity and quality dip was apparent during GoaFest. But it got glossed over in the euphoria. The lack of intensity is because of two reasons: 1) financial pressure within agencies, and 2) HR turmoil in many mid-size and large agencies.

Q. Do you think we have reached a near standstill point as far as creativity in advertising is concerned?

The problem happens when you equate creativity with India’s Cannes tally. If you equate it with business results, the picture changes. Creative or not, the campaigns for brands like Cadbury, Oreo, Hero, Quikr, Maruti and Reliance Digital, to name a few, have resulted in record sales. Ultimately, what is creative is subjective. If we have to up our Cannes tally, India’s best creative brains need to take it up as an agenda, which they aren’t currently.

Q. Which are the ads that have you seen in recent times that have really made you sit up and notice?

Vaseline ‘Bat’ print ad by BBH India Coca Cola Polar Bowl Lego Star Wars Integration Day (Downes Syndrome) Amex Small business Official Holiday

Q. What are the advantages of being a full service ad agency vis-à-vis a boutique agency?

Our industry is like the hospitality industry. For example, if you run a hotel, the guest is not going to expect just the provision of a bed to sleep. He will ask for bed, breakfast, couple of cuisines, housekeeping, room service, gym, swimming pool, spa, laundry service and other countless facilities and amenities. One needs to structure an agency based on advertisers’ needs. We can’t tell our client that we will give you only creative because we are a creative boutique after knowing that his need is one-stop solution for his marketing or business problem. It’s like selling a golf club without a putter.

Q. Going ahead, what can we expect from Scarecrow - introduction of some new units, strategic tie-ups...

May be a rural marketing wing of Scarecrow, or a tie up with global digital agency…

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