With milestone campaigns like Jaagore.com digital drive in its performance checklist, Leo Burnett’s digital arm Arc Worldwide is looking positive towards its set goals for the year to come and has recently launched a training programme to cater to the aspiring digital professionals.
In an exclusive conversation, CVS Sharma (aka Venke Sharma) Director, Arc Worldwide explained agency’s functionality and the growth rate it is aiming for in the year ahead. He said, “Arc helps brands demonstrate their purpose - through Acts. Therefore we are an integrated marketing services agency that partners with clients in addressing their marketing challenges. Customer insights help us conceive innovative acts across multiple. For the next year, we are targeting a 25 per cent growth.”
The ‘independent agency versus integrated agency’ debate has been prevalent in the industry for quite some time now and Sharma believes it is the latter that scores. He commented, “In yesteryears, the mainline agency would crack the brief and the campaign route would then be adapted by the specialists. This talent infusion is bound to change the way agencies will operate. Campaigns such as Jaagore.com, HappyWheels have consumer activation at the core. Digital specialists will need to be more than web design/ media execution specialists. But technology will not be the only USP for digital specialists. We are already seeing a trend where digital/ BTL planners are leading campaign planning for mainline agencies. Before 1980 mainline agencies in India did not know how to utilise TV as a medium. But now can you imagine a separate TV specialist agency?”
He further added, “With increasing client emphasis and consumer engagement, digital will be at the core of what agencies will do. This means better times ahead for all the digital and BTL practitioners.”
One of the recent activities by the agency was of HPCL HappyWheels campaign was an integrated effort using mobile and point of sale effectively to drive volume growth for fuel sales across 3000 outlets in 35 cities. According to the agency, about 2 million people participated making it a highly effective campaign.
“We also launched Bharti Walmart’s Easyday retail stores in Ghaziabad and Indore. The launches were hugely successful with over a lakh people turning up in the first week of store launch in Ghaziabad. We are revamping house to house, consumer engagement at retail and school activation programmes for some of our major clients. Consumer behaviour has changed over the years requiring major changes in our approach to brand activation,” Sharma said.
On the digital front, Tata Tea’s Jaagore.com voter registration drive has come out from the Arc’s creative shop and is regarded as one of the best social activism campaigns in India.
Elaborating further on the campaigns and the focus area for the team, Sharma said, “Piramal Supractiv and Blackberry digital campaigns launched recently received excellent response. Carrefour and SRF corporate web sites will be launched soon. Mobile is also one of Arc’s major focus areas. Currently we are developing mobile applications that can take consumer interaction and CRM to a fascinating level.”
The growth in the digital industry has triggered the requirement of well qualified professionals and these days the demand is only on the rise. To cater to such a need, the agency has come up with a training programme affiliated under its name. Sharma stated, “The pace of growth in the marketing services space (digital, direct marketing, brand activation, etc.) is unmatched. Attitude, more than ability, is the key here. The requirements of the space are quite varied. Digital space requires people who are active netizens first. Given the limitation in talent pool, opportunities available and the growth rate career prospects are bright for talent sticking to this space. Arc has launched a trainee programme wherein fresh talent can mature into excellent planners/creative/servicing resources within 3-6 months.”
Sharma was brought on board to head Arc Worldwide in Feb 2007 to build a sustainable business model. While globally Arc had an integrated marketing services model then, Asia Pacific offices were either focusing on digital or activation and building their strengths around the same. “Having built Tribal DDB in India previously, I was quite inclined to focus on digital initially. Jaagore.com digital campaign- voter registration drive, the Delhi Daredevils website, beinggirl.com, Kyazoonga.com, Reliance Globalcom and a whole lot of other digital projects. We brought home India’s first and only cyber Cannes Lion- for our work on Luxor. We also realised that bigger opportunities in terms of current client spends were in areas other than digital and started building our expertise in areas such as brand activation, direct marketing, trade marketing etc,” he recalled.
When asked about how client’s acceptability of digital medium has changed over the years, Sharma answered, “ten years ago we used to tell clients what digital is and why should they consider having a website. Five years ago we were telling them why they should advertise on the medium. Now we are encouraging clients to think beyond websites, SEO/paid search and banner ads. The focus now is on leveraging digital as the ‘integrator’ medium that can generate better return on marketing investments and that it can therefore come as a mobile application, smart set top box innovation, a smart POP kiosk installation, a billboard, a PDA/iPad with FOS resource, a retail audit tool and as content/ communities followed relentlessly on social media by which loyalists/critics can make or break initiatives (ads, products, press interactions) within minutes.”
Arc Worldwide India has three units – the Digital unit is headed by Amjad Pendhari (Technology Director), the Integrated Projects unit led by Sheetal Vanwari (Planning and Creative) and Lavanya Iyer (Account Director) and the Brand Activation and Promotions unit headed by Navdeep Singh Dhindsa with offices across Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. The agency is also in the process of establishing the ‘shopper marketing practice’.