Brands' project approach: Trial run before tying the knot?

There has been significant increase in both, large and small agencies taking up work on project basis. Creative honchos highlight the pros and cons of such an approach...

e4m by Priyanka Mehra
Published: Jul 24, 2013 8:34 AM  | 7 min read
Brands' project approach: Trial run before tying the knot?

Gone is the era of long-term relationships, and Adland certainly seems to be a true reflection of the same, with a significant increase in work being taken up on project basis by large and small agencies alike.

Much like what T20 did to cricket, where it is common to see a lesser known team beat the most high profile one. The format forces every player to be at his best all the time because there are no second chances. The same logic applies to brands being built through a project-by-project approach. It puts the pressure on ‘right now’. You could always argue if it’s making ‘right-now’ bigger than ‘what’s right’, and while that argument stands, it seems to be a sign of the times we live in.

“Long-term partnerships are a different ball game altogether, with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. But if you are a marketer who wants to shape brands that are built-to-last, a series of projects may be the hardest way to get there. And that’s where long-term partnerships score over any other approach,” stated Vikas Mehta, CMO, Lowe Lintas and Partners.

Client needs and objectives play a pivotal role
It depends on what the client is looking for. If the objective is to create some fireworks that will get your brand a lot of attention immediately, the easiest way to do this is to invite a few agencies to pitch for a ‘project’ assignment, and whoever gets the best sparklers to the show wins.

“The way I look at work on a project basis is that it is an indication of our environment. For example, there are new products and services coming into the market, and want to send out messages to people through a campaign to say ‘we are here’. But maybe this is their first outing and we don’t know if they will be regular advertisers. Many a times the nature of the industry such, i.e. a builder making a fancy building just wants to communicate about that building and not his day-to-day work. We would love to have long-term associations, but if the client feels he is not ready for regular communication, then project basis work becomes the best option,” said Abhijit Avasthi, National Creative Director, Ogilvy India.

Whilst the project mind-set seems to be on the rise and is here to stay for a while, it could also be a good leveller for the bigger networks and the smaller start-ups.

Increase in work on a project basis may also be attributed to today’s CMOs donning the role of a quasi CFO. With shrinking budgets, marketers today are also aggressively focussed on meeting their numbers. A project approach is also of great use for clients who do not have the means or the need for an agency on retainer all year round.

“If your business needs only one campaign a year, then your money is better spent working with the best agency in the country for a two-month project instead of having a sweat shop on an annual retainer,” added Mehta.

It works for agencies as remuneration earned from work on a project basis translates to assured monies coming in a fixed time period.

“This is the era of IPL and T20. The increasing trend of project work is stemming from consumer behaviour. In fact, it is one of the big problems that the nation is going through for last six to eight years to meet the committed targets year-on-year which are given to individual offices. In case these are not met, senior guys lose a huge sum, which maybe in form of bonus and reputation,” opined Santosh Padhi, Founder – Chief Creative Officer, Taproot India. 

Means to get your foot in the door
Projects are also viewed as a means for smaller agencies to get their foot in the door. 
“Projects are like sampling; smaller agencies get an opportunity to showcase their area of expertise and credentials. It serves like a test drive, maybe that’s the new way of pitching,” said Sagar Mahableshwarkar, Chief Creative Officer, BatesCHI and Partners.

A project seems like an interesting way to substitute a multi-agency pitch. It is a great way to test drive a new partnership before you tie the knot, rather than invite four agencies to come and attempt to solve a decade-old marketing problem in a two-hour meeting. Doing the same via a project provides both, the marketer and the agency an opportunity to really work together and get a feel of what a long-term partnership may possibly look like.

Does it help the brand?
Is short-term project basis work propelling the brand forward or taking a step back from the traditional way of functioning which believed in partnering with a single agency that worked on the brand for decades?
“Relationships matter. They lead to brand understanding as well as understanding of the brand’s challenges and objectives, producing effective communication. That can never be replaced. Work taken on a short-term basis signifies a quick monetary gain – nothing else. In the long or short run, it is a monetary gain approach or a foot in the door strategy. If there is no relationship post project completion, we will stand to lose our position as communication experts,” stated Rana Barua, Chief Operating Officer, Contract Advertising.
Clients are currently using a project-based approach to seek fresh thinking, break-through ideas, test drive a relationship with a new agency, or even to try a new agency while being tied to a global alignment that’s not working out locally.

“No one is looking for long-term solutions; everyone is asking what is my next three months’ goal or six months’ goal. The maximum people look at is three years’ goal; no one wants to see beyond three years. The average life of everyone’s career has become much shorter. Everyone is used to short-term solutions with a mindset that ‘as long as by the end of this year, I meet my numbers, I am fine’. This might not help most brands nor agencies; somewhere down the line, you have to engage with consumers throughout the year,” said Mahabaleshwarkar.

Is it also a way of putting pressure over the existing agency? Is this healthy in the long run?
“Clients also at times misuse giving project work to other agencies to keep their current agency on its toes and drive agency costs down by creating excess competition and so on. This is the set one needs to worry about, discourage, and shun. Otherwise, your long-term partnerships will end up as marriages where extra-marital sex is acceptable once in a while. Not the healthiest of marriages, I must say,” said Mehta.

However, in the larger context, a significant increase in project work is a mirror of what the media industry is going through. In a media-exploded environment that’s getting more fragmented by the minute, there is enough confusion about what is the best way to engage people in pursuit of building brands. Most of the existing models are going back to the drawing board and there seems to be an unsettling feeling among both, marketers and agencies on whether there is something else out there that he/she is missing.

Increase in project basis work – though not necessarily harmful depending on the objective – promises to keep increasing; similar to the entropy that precedes any significant step of an evolution. 

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Cadbury Dairy Milk shows how India came together to #CheerForAllSports

The multichannel campaign introduced fan screens in stadiums across all sports tournaments to motivate athletes representing India in games like boxing, TT, hockey

By exchange4media Staff | May 30, 2023 11:45 AM   |   2 min read


As the games season continues to engross the world, Cadbury Dairy Milk leveraged this opportunity to bring India together to step beyond the cricket fever and #CheerForAllSports. Launched recently to help athletes in underrepresented sports feel valued and acknowledged, the campaign sought to enable better connections between athletes and fans at the back of a tech-based solution.

All one has to do is scan the QR code on the reimagined iconic INR100 Cadbury Dairy Milk released for the campaign, which will lead to a microsite with a calendar of all sporting events across Hockey, Boxing, Table Tennis, etc., currently running in India during the same period as the upcoming IPL season. To this end, the brand also installed specially made fan screens to create an electric atmosphere in the stadium for the athletes at the back of energized Indian fans cheering their sporting idols.

The campaign has witnessed an impassioned response from across the country with around 7 Lakh registrations on the brand microsite to watch and cheer on Indian athletes as they attain new heights across different tournaments on the World Stage. To date, people have cheered on Nishant Dev, Mohammed Hussamuddin, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manika Batra, Deepak Punia and Nisha Dahiya as they competed in tournaments such as IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships 2023, World Table Tennis Star Contender 2023 and Senior Asian Wrestling Championship 2023 respectively, to bring sporting glory to India. Many of the competing athletes expressed their gratitude and happiness about seeing their fans supporting them on-screen that motivated them to compete even more fiercely.

With two more international competitions – the ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals 2023 and the FIH Pro League 2023 – on the roster this month, Cadbury Dairy Milk expects even more sign-ups from Indians looking to #CheerForAllSports, to witness their sporting heroes battle it out to bring the country recognition on an international arena.

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Campaign celebrates resilience, determination & indefatigable spirit of Adani Group

The #Humkarkedikhatehain film has been created by Ogilvy

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 7:13 PM   |   2 min read


The Adani Group has unveiled its new multi-media, multi-platform ad-campaign, ‘Hum Karke Dikhate Hain’.  

Developed by Ogilvy India, the "Hum mushkilo ki nahi sunte, karke dikhate hai" (Undeterred by challenges, we deliver on our commitments) campaign is a powerful testament to the Adani Group's resilience, tenacity and relentless pursuit of overcoming obstacles to build world-class infrastructure, both in India and abroad. 

Through a 100-second television commercial that takes viewers on a visually stunning journey across the country, the Adani Group celebrates its 35 years of dedicated service to India. The Group will roll out the campaign across print, broadcast and social media platforms over the next few weeks. 

Pranav Adani, Director, Adani Enterprises said, “The campaign perfectly captures the unconquerable spirit and ethos of the Adani Group to convert challenges into opportunities and its resolve to driving positive change in the lives of millions of Indians. As a first-generation entrepreneurial company, it is this indefatigable spirit that has been a bedrock of our culture.”

The Group has diversified into a world-class portfolio of independently governed market leading businesses that have revolutionized industry practices in sectors like energy and utilities, transport and logistics, materials, metals and mining, and direct-to-consumer. 

Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Global Creative & Executive Chairman - India, Ogilvy, commented, “Investing in infrastructure and national development projects needs determination and belief. This is the spirit of Adani and its new corporate campaign.”

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How creative tech is scripting a new future in Indian advertising

Industry leaders weigh in about stretching the frontiers of advertising with the infusion of tech with human ingenuity

By Tanzila Shaikh | May 29, 2023 9:06 AM   |   6 min read

creative tech

With technology entering every aspect of modern businesses, can advertising be too far behind?  In fact, campaigns that deftly merge tech with creativity are touted to be the future of advertising.  

The industry has been integrating technology into its communication, reaching consumers in a way that wasn’t possible before. Apart from creating a seamless user experience, “creative tech” has also been impacting positive changes in people’s lives.   

The Unfiltered History Tour, created by DENTSU Creative India was the most celebrated work in Canne Lions 2022. Took creative tech a notch up making the advertising industry take note.

Speaking about how ad creativity is evolving and is interconnected with technology, Rashid Ahmed, Chief Digital Officer at Infectious Advertising, said, “While reach is an important aspect of advertising (because obviously, if people don’t know you exist, how can they love you?); creativity veers towards the impact and memorability of communication. In today’s technology-tied advertising, memorability can be aided through the use of unique techniques for developing creativity or even delivering it. The use of technology during development or delivery is itself both innovative and creative. With newer AI-assisted technologies rapidly coming into the fray, the advertising industry is bound to evolve, to enhance creativity based on compelling human ideas.” 

Mithun Mukherjee, ECD, FCB Kinnect, has a different take. He says that the creative advertising industry serves only one purpose: serving its consumers. 

“For centuries, the medium of expression has constantly evolved; from print to radio, to television and finally, the internet. As we enter a new age of creative tech, creative people are bracing themselves for impact once again,” he noted.  

Mukherjee, however, added that it isn’t a new phenomenon. “Every new media and mode of expression has always been disruptive. When people moved from radio to television or from the landline to mobile phones, the world did not blink.” 

He pointed out that most of these new creative solutions are not about “selling” anymore. “While a song and dance could get the job done about a decade or two ago, the consumer is a lot sharper and more nuanced right now,” said Mukherjee.  

“He or she buys not just into the product but looks deeper into things like the brand’s philosophy. As an advertiser, one often must strike a deeper chord and ensure that these among other needs of the consumer get addressed through advertising. Shock and titillation are on their way out”, he added. 

Shah Rukh Khan-My-Ad was the most celebrated work in Cannes Lions 2022, impacting many lives in India, and giving store owners/small business owners a chance to rope SRK as their brand ambassador. The campaign was conceptualized by Ogilvy India.

The birth of creative tech 

Many Indian campaigns with tech at their core swept Cannes Lions 2022. One of the most celebrated ads at the fest last year was the AI-powered Cadbury Celebrations ad that helped small businesses rope in Shah Rukh Khan as their spokesperson. It has become a gold standard in advertising for tech adoption to impact a positive change. 

Niraj Ruparel, Head of Mobile and Emerging Tech, GroupM, commented on how the ad industry has been keeping pace with technological advancements by investing in new tech, exploring new avenues and leveraging data analytics and AI to create personalised and focused marketing campaigns.  

“This has resulted in some notable campaigns, such as the Shah Rukh Khan My ad, Unfiltered History, and Sachin's memorable ad, which exhibit the potential of AI-powered tools and creative partnerships,” he said.  

Emerging tech has also been offering a plethora of opportunities to advertisers to create more personalised and engaging campaigns that resonate with customers, said Gurbaksh Singh, Chief Innovation Officer, DENTSU CREATIVE India.  

“The integration of creative tech in advertising is a natural evolution of the industry as it seeks to keep up with changing times and consumer behaviour,” he noted.  

Neeraj Bassi, Chief Growth Officer of Cheil India, highlighted the changes in the “telling” bit of storytelling. “We have technology that can animate Socrates having dialogues with Bill Gates. . We can create visuals depicting world’s billionaires in abject poverty or use a specific person’s voice to become the voice assistant on the phone. The possibilities are really endless. But what will make them really impactful is the story layer that gets added to this fabulous telling.”

Bassi cited the example of a campaign Cheil did for Samsung India, taking inspiration from the life of a patient with motor neuron disease. Tying up with Asha Ek Hope Foundation, the campaign used a mom’s voice as an AI Voice assistant to guide her daughter.  

Blending tech with creativity

According to Ruparel, embracing collaborations, investing in upskilling, leveraging data and staying agile are the four things needed to create a successful tech-driven campaign.  

Singh advises keeping the core objective of the campaign in mind. He said, “To create an impactful outcome, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of your target audience and their preferences, as well as the latest trends and innovations in the industry.” 

Using data analytics to track consumer engagement and fine-tuning campaigns in real-time can also deliver the right results, he said. “Although a campaign's success ultimately depends on the emotional connection it forges with its target audience. To produce genuinely effective advertising campaigns, it is crucial to achieve a balance between creative tech and emotional resonance,” Singh reiterated.  

Young Sachin Ad used deep-fake technology to give a message to the younger generation to keep pursuing their dreams. Conceptualized by VMLY&R.

The Future of Creative-Tech 

India is inarguably at the vanguard of creative tech and the future looks even more promising. Said Ruparel, “To prepare the younger generation for this landscape, the industry should focus on cultivating a culture of innovation, encouraging creative experimentation and risk-taking to inspire new ideas and fostering growth, championing good mentorship and encouraging continuous learning with an emphasis on acquiring new skills.” 

Like most things technology, the current wave will also be replaced by something better in the years to come, said Mukherjee. “The entire approach to digital advertising is going to undergo a massive shift. We will find out soon enough if some specific job roles are going to become redundant. But, like with any new technology, the sooner one embraces it, the quicker they’re going to move ahead in the race. I have personally been researching extensively into AI and its multiple use cases. We’ve already managed to crack and execute a few campaigns for our clients. Specific tools like ChatGPT can become a strong ally in creative brainstorming and can successfully pivot ideation into unexpected directions.” 

“We are creating toolkits that will help the younger lot not just leverage new technology but use it to create far superior creative solutions than they otherwise would have”, he added on prepping the future creatives. 

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Eggoz’s new campaign, #EggozEggsSabsebest, shares fresh take on eggs

Through the campaign, Eggoz is educating its customers on what a fresh egg looks, feels, and smells like

By exchange4media Staff | May 27, 2023 6:00 PM   |   2 min read


Egg-focused consumer brand, Eggoz, has launched an online nationwide campaign to spread awareness of the status of the current egg industry and the importance of choosing farm-fresh and chemical-free eggs for a healthy diet. Through the campaign, Eggoz is educating its customers on what a fresh egg looks, feels, and smells like. 

“We’ve heard enough and more about the nutritional and health value of eggs. But, are you consuming good eggs?  Are your eggs fresh? How to tell if an egg is actually nutritious or not? Eggs in India are typically 7-10 days old from laying and by the time they reach consumers’ kitchen, their nutrition is lost. Additionally, there are usage of chemicals, anti-biotics for egg production which are harmful for long term consumption. The typical eggy smell and runny yolk are few characteristics of an egg that is no longer fresh and there would be loss of nutrition.  Through this campaign, we intend to create awareness about eggs in India and guide consumers to select perfectly fresh eggs for better nutrition and healthier eggs. With our vision to build the ‘Amul of eggs’, this campaign will help us in educating consumers about the category and also help us expand our customer base.” said Abhishek Negi, Co-founder of Eggoz.

The special campaign of Eggoz has been released in the form of four video assets, supported with static assets across digital platforms. The videos showcase how Eggoz eggs are better as compared to loose eggs and regular eggs available in the market. The primary objective of the entire campaign is to provide customers with a fresh perspective on eggs and guide them to select the best quality eggs.

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Duolingo launches brand film to talk of affordable learning alternatives

The film features stories of 16 real students

By exchange4media Staff | May 28, 2023 10:00 AM   |   2 min read


Duolingo English Test (DET) has released a brand film titled A bridge to opportunity: Study abroad with the Duolingo English Test.

The film features the stories of 16 real students and showcases how the DET is bridging the gap for students aspiring to fulfill their study abroad dreams. English proficiency tests have been an expensive, stressful barrier between students and their dreams of higher education, and the DET provides an affordable, accessible and convenient alternative.

The film has been produced by Pittsburgh based agency Animal Studios, and was shot in 4 countries, showcasing the lives these students are living as they experience life at their dream universities. The students featured in the video are from all over the world, including countries such as India, Japan, UK, China, Syria, Germany, Indonesia, Columbia, and Singapore.

Caroline Moylan, Marketing Manager, Brand Experience, Duolingo English Test said, “We are overjoyed and proud to share a film that tells the story of the Duolingo English Test through those it impacts most — the students! We traveled to 5 cities in 4 countries to interview 16 university students about the challenges of studying abroad, the evolution of the testing industry, and the life-changing power of higher education. I wanted to thank the students, without whom we would have no story. Testing should be a bridge, not a barrier. The work we do at Duolingo English Test helps open up access to higher education and give the world’s most brilliant and talented young people a chance.”

Danny Yourd, Director at Animal Studio said, “A few months ago we were approached by our good friends at Duolingo to tell a story of the Duolingo English Test through the lens of its students. We enjoyed the challenge that comes with shooting films across countries and borders, and stitching together stories of these inspiring students. We were happy to work with the team to be able to produce this piece that’s close to our hearts.”

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'Monetising social media is a big challenge'

At Goafest 2023, panellists discussed the future of connected devices and cross channel measurements

By exchange4media Staff | May 25, 2023 3:41 PM   |   2 min read


Social media has emerged as a robust platform for marketing, direct, subtle or indirect for almost all consumer brands. However, monetising it is quite challenging, experts said at the panel discussion “Future of Connected Devices and Cross Channel Measurement” on Day 2 of the Goa Fest.

The session was moderated by Rajdeep Sardesai, Consulting Editor of India Today Television and attended by panellists Geet Lulla, VP of Sales & Head Asia Pacific, Comscore; Pankaj Krishna, Founder and CEO, Chrome DM; and Salil Kumar, CEO, ITGD.

This session drove conversations around the future of connected devices, which allow seamless integration of various smart devices, enabling effortless communication and data sharing between them. Cross-channel measurement has become increasingly sophisticated, providing comprehensive insights into user behaviour across multiple platforms and touchpoints for more effective marketing strategies.

“However, measurement is now moving from a monolithic approach to a fragmented approach, which needs to be reported frequently because data by itself is meaningless without context,” said Lulla. He added that there are over three billion people on social media, yet monetising it is still a challenge yet.

During the debate, Krishna presented his findings on the incremental reach of digital media in India, which consists of three components: browsers (223 mn), mobile devices (619 mn) and connected TVs (22.1 mn).

Kumar, too, made an important addition to his conversation about data monetisation.

The panellists also accentuated the importance of clarity, wherein the measurement is concerned, as well as collaboration with regard to the real-time consumption ecosystem.

Sardesai raised the issue of controversial TV media measurement, which has pained channels for a long time. Lulla pointed out that we still have a traditional approach of sampling households for TV measurement.

Krishna hoped that in the future we might have some programmatic system that can do real-time bidding according to the flow of breaking news that comes in at that point in time.

Goafest kicked off on Wednesday 25th May. The theme this year is "The Future of Creativity." The three-day annual festival will continue till 26th May.

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mSix&Partners wins integrated media mandate for Dr. Reddy's OTC Business

The mandate includes TV, Print, Radio, Digital and OOH

By exchange4media Staff | May 25, 2023 12:36 PM   |   2 min read


mSix&Partners has won the integrated media mandate for Dr. Reddy's OTC Business. The account will be managed by the agency's Mumbai office, which will leverage its data and tech-driven approach to drive business growth for the client through targeted and effective media planning and execution.

With a focus on maximizing ROI for the client, mSix&Partners plans to use its vast experience in media planning, execution, and measurement to craft solutions that resonate with Dr. Reddy's regional audience.

The mandate will focus on crafting detailed micro-marketing solutions with a clear focus on the regionalization story for Reblanz ORS brands.

Commenting on the win, Subhamay Mukhopadhyay, Managing Partner, mSix&Partners India said, "We are thrilled to partner with Dr. Reddy's and bring our data-driven approach to the table. As a data and tech-driven agency, we understand the importance of driving business growth through bespoke, dedicated, multi-disciplinary teams that closely partner with our clients. Our data-driven approach is what sets us apart, and we're excited to bring that to the table for Dr. Reddy's. We look forward to adding value through our expertise in media planning and execution to deliver on the client's objectives."

Nigel Saldanha, Head of Marketing OTC, GG India for Dr. Reddy’s, said “ We are on a very interesting journey in building an OTC business at Dr. Reddy’s GG India, and at this juncture, having the right partners on board is of paramount importance. After rigorous evaluations, we are happy to award the integrated media mandate to mSix&Partners India and look forward to accelerating our ambitions through this partnership."

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