We need more Aggies and Paddys to take Taproot to the next level... We are very greedy when it comes to work, we treat everything like an opportunity, we have no personal or social life, we compromise that for work. Once we get the brief, we are very excited to see it in some media form. We still behave like a small kid when he sees a new toy; this whole domino effect is what gives us the edge.
Santosh Padhi is one half of the creative duo that set up Taproot India, along with Agnello Dias. He has been in the advertising industry for 17 years and had quit Leo Burnet as Executive Creative Director and National Head, Art in September 2008 to set up Taproot. Padhi had started his career with Mudra in 1996 as a trainee visualiser, and has worked on a varied client portfolio, including Godrej, Reliance, and L&T, among others.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Mehra, Padhi talks about how Taproot India maintains its edge, need for a ‘suit’ in the agency, the journey so far, key focus areas and more...
Q. Taproot India does not have a ‘suit’ as of now, are there any plans of getting someone on board in the near future?
When we started, we initially had a servicing guy with us, who decided to pursue another offer and who is now a client. Five years ago, there was a strong culture of clients wanting to partner with creative guys. The role of servicing guys was changing, with more of them moving to the client side; we thought all these factors were in our favour, so we decided to go ahead without a suit.
Initially we managed, but after a point we can’t be doing finances and making sure of our investments. We need somebody intelligent to ensure a more cost effective model and take care of cash flow, etc. But we need someone to run it like their own agency.
Q. What is the agency’s focus for 2013?
The beginning of this year has been crazy. We have been joking that we are the IPL agency as we are handling seven of the brands associated with the Indian Premier League – viz. Pepsi’s Atom, Mountain Dew, 7Up, Karbonn, Marico, Airtel, and IPL itself. We believe in doing great work and great work will follow. We will be focusing on digital and design going forward. The year has picked up very well, hopefully it will continue, we have a lot of interesting work in the pipeline.
Q. Is Taproot where you and Aggie had envisioned it to be when you started out in 2009?
Aggie and I are workaholics, we were very sure if there was no one else in the agency Aggie would do everything from writing a script to direction, and I would do everything from art direction to photography. For the first six months we had a low phase, things did not happen the way we had envisioned them. Our first client was The Times of India. 2009 was a time of recession and clients were cutting down their media budgets; we were getting small businesses, but still needed that one big break. Thanks to The Times of India, we got a lot of visibility. Our other big break was the Lead India campaign.
Taproot today has reached where we wanted it to be; we never planned on being the Agency of the Year at AdFest or being No. 1 at GoaFest, bagging awards for Pepsi and Airtel. We are extremely lucky. Now, the challenge is that we need more Aggies and Paddys to take Taproot to the next level, we have a couple of guys on board. The challenge is to keep them ready by giving them charge of brands and making them the face of the brands.
Only when we empower the person today will they be ready in three to four years. Right now, we make sure one of us oversees the work that goes out of this agency, but we are on the verge of creating more Aggies and Paddys in the system.
Q. Taproot started a trend, which was followed by numerous other smaller independent agencies sprouting. How do you maintain the edge?
Everybody who has started their own agency is doing well; we are extremely happy we got everything at one go, including recognition and work.
We are very greedy when it comes to work, we treat everything like an opportunity, we have no personal or social life, we compromise that for work. Once we get the brief, we are very excited to see it in some media form. We still behave like a small kid like when he sees a new toy; this whole domino effect is what gives us the edge.