We are getting rid of the stereotypes: Matt Eastwood, JWT Worldwide

We are getting rid of the stereotypes: Matt Eastwood, JWT Worldwide

Author | Ruhail Amin | Thursday, Feb 09,2017 9:48 AM

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We are getting rid of the stereotypes: Matt Eastwood, JWT Worldwide

“The biggest focus is to keep the creative reputation that we have built globally over the last 12 months, given the fact that last year we had the best year at Cannes in the 150 years of the company, so, my mission this year is to maintain that consistency,” says Matt Eastwood, Chief Creative Officer, JWT, Worldwide on the priorities that he has set for the agency for 2017.

Another top priority on his mind is to try to surround the agency’s creative people with tools that they need to deliver ideas and make them try things, make mistakes and discover new things. “In fact that is a challenge across our big network, and interestingly, India is one of the countries leading that for us,” he adds.

Speaking about deriving opportunity out of the challenges like demonetisation, Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer, JWT, South Asia, said, “Millions of Indians experienced a little bit of discomfort for first couple of months, which I believe was for a good cause. We did not see it as a big problem and actually some of my people saw it as an opportunity. Any such situation for creative guys is an opportunity and they should look at it positively.”

In an exclusive chat, Matt Eastwood and Senthil Kumar speak about the agency’s 2017 blueprint and more.

Which sectors allow you the maximum liberty to experiment with ad campaigns and formats?

Senthil Kumar- I would say start-ups. They have the investments and the ideas but they don’t know how to do the branding. We did a recent campaign for NestAway and involved our best young talent for it and it is making waves across social media. I think start-ups offer a huge opportunity for creative talent to flourish and experiment.

Creativity is often subject to censorship, how do you deal with such stumbling blocks?

Matt Eastwood - I think different countries have different sensibilities around political correctiveness and some countries like Latin America are more relaxed about sexuality. We also do a lot of work in the Middle East and we cannot do the same thing there. So, it’s more about guidelines than censorship. We did a big study last year called ‘Female Tribes’,  which is about redefining the way in which marketing and advertising talked about women and we came up with a new terminology. So, right now, I’m writing some guidelines for the entire agency to ensure that whatever we are doing, we are getting rid of the stereotypes.

How does the use of celebrities impact the overall creative aspect of an ad, this especially in a country like India where Bollywood and cricketing idols are venerated like deities?

Matt Easwood- India is a big fan of celebrities in ads, and many celebrities have an iconic appeal across households. For me, when you align the use of a celebrity to the strategic intent of the brand rather than just randomly going about it, it becomes a great influencer. For example, one of our biggest clients globally and in India is Lux and it has always had celebrities associated with it. So, we did a campaign sponsoring an award show last year in which we brought back the celebrities of the last 90 years of Lux advertising. Interestingly, there was a woman in the ads who was 83 years old and she was famous too, so it became a celebration of age and longevity and beauty in a different way. Even though all the people in the ads were famous, it was kind of relevant to the brand and the fame enhances the product message rather than distracting from it. I think that is the key, it’s not just using random celebrities to get attention but trying it to make it relevant to the brand message that you are trying to get across.

When demonetisation was announced, did it sound any alarm bells for the creative agencies too?

Senthil Kumar: It was a sudden announcement and you had to manage the situation. Millions of Indians experienced a little bit of discomfort for first couple of months, which I believe was for a good cause. We did not see it as a big problem and actually some of my people saw it as an opportunity. Any such situation for creative guys is an opportunity and they should look at it positively. We did a campaign for Khaitan in Calcutta, which was about black money hidden in mattresses and for The Hindu with the long line of queues.

What are your priorities for 2017?

Matt Eastwood: The biggest focus is to keep the creative reputation that we have built globally over the last 12 months, given the fact that last year we had the best year at Cannes in the 150 years of the company, so, my mission this year is to maintain that consistency.

The other big priority that I am pushing through the network is around the idea of trying to surround our creative people with tools that they need to deliver ideas and make them try things, make mistakes and discover new things. In fact that is a challenge across our big network and interestingly India is one of the countries leading that for us. We started a company mid last year called Small Fry, which does a lot of production work and is built as part of the agency but it is a separate offering, and I think that enables people to deliver content in a way that the old adage of good, fast and cheap is not true anymore .

When demonetisation was announced, did it sound any alarm bells for the creative agencies too?

Senthil Kumar: It was a sudden announcement and you had to manage the situation. Millions of Indians experienced a little bit of discomfort for first couple of months, which I believe was for a good cause. We did not see it as a big problem and actually some of my people saw it as an opportunity. Any such situation for creative guys is an opportunity and they should look at it positively. We did a campaign for Khaitan in Calcutta, which was about black money hidden in mattresses and for The Hindu with the long line of queues.

How is the increasing use of technology rewriting the rules of advertising?

Senthil Kumar: Though India is considered to be the IT capital of the world, we believe that technology can enable ideas to become a lot more powerful and a lot more experiential because today the mobile phone is closest to you, and I think that’s why we reached more people with our The Hindu ad versus the traditional mode of advertising. In every campaign that we do today, we try it and in fact a lot of clients have woken up to ask about the mobile first strategy. So, everyone is aware that this is the instrument that is going to be the ad platform for the future as it directly connects you with your target audience.

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