COVID Test: Will it now be survival of the fittest for advertising agencies?

Industry experts say Q2 will be the decider - if it turns out to be dismal, revenue will be impacted by as much as 40%; if the market picks up, all will be well 

e4m by Neeta Nair
Published: Jun 17, 2020 8:42 AM  | 20 min read

Advertising agencies have so far kept their head above water despite their clients asking for temporary rebates. But Q2 will be the decider - if it turns out to be dismal, revenue will be impacted by as much as 40%; if the market picks up, all will be well 

From a lofty 12.5% ad agency commission in the 1990s to 3-5% ‘effective’ commission of the total ad spends today (keeping in mind that there is not one fixed payment scenario now and it is divided between retainer, projects, performance-linked fees, etc), the remuneration model in Indian advertising agencies has come a long way. Now, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to further impact these numbers, with advertisers majorly slashing their ad budgets for the year, and creative agencies facing part of the collateral damage. Will it be a case of survival of the fittest or can the agencies ‘creatively’ adapt to the need of the times to get out of this situation – well, Q2 will be the decider.

In the industry, some sectors such as Auto and Travel are more badly hit than the others. Some of the large Mumbai and Pune-based automobile companies pay their creative agency partners a single-digit commission on the overall ad spends. Considering that some of these Auto players have barely advertised on mainstream platforms in the past three months, their agencies’ revenues have dwindled. We have learnt that a Travel brand, which is currently advertising only on Digital, is paying 50% less fees to its ad agency; while an eye-care brand has told its agency, which is part of a big network, to waive an entire month’s fee. Talking about how it has affected her agency, Srija Chatterjee, MD, Publicis Worldwide, India, says, “Some of our clients have asked for a discount in fees; some have cut the scope of work; therefore, there is a drop in remuneration and revision in retainer contracts to the tune of 5-20% on an annual basis.”
But most agencies claim that their clients’ request for a rebate is only short-term. Rohit Ohri, Chairman & Group CEO, FCB India, says, “It is a known fact that clients’ businesses are under pressure; those on retainer who have suffered a big business impact have asked for a three-month rebate for March, April and May. For the other clients who are on commission, there has been a cut in these three months because a lot of the ad spends are not happening on Television, etc. But on the positive side, lots of clients are now looking at consolidation. Clients who worked with four different agencies are attempting to consolidate their business and narrow it down to one or two agencies at best, so creative agencies get a bigger share of the business and clients get a better deal. Basically, it is about economies of scale.”
But are advertisers preferring to work with mainline agencies or Digital agencies, considering that scope of work on the Digital medium has increased substantially in these three months? Raj Kamble, Founder & COO, Famous Innovations, narrates how one of his clients fired their Digital agency recently: “We have a client which worked with a mainline agency and a Digital agency. But they had to choose between the two because the scope of work was going to reduce across mediums. They picked us, their mainline agency, because they thought we brought much more strategic thinking to the table and our overall thought process was better. They fired the Digital agency and moved the Digital work also to us. Since we are not doing TV, Outdoor or Print ads now, they wanted us to focus on Digital work. COVID-19 has converted all mainline agencies to Digital agencies in one stroke, something we all have been trying to do for years.”

Does that mean that the advertisers who have chosen to stick with certain agencies are paying them more for the increased scope of work? Santosh Padhi, CCO and Co-founder, Taproot Dentsu, says, “From 12.5% decades ago, ad agencies came down to getting 3-4% effective commission of the marketing spends, if we still go by the old school commission formula. Right now, I am seeing clients wanting to further bring it down. It will certainly happen with clients in sectors that are badly hit, but it will also become an excuse for those sectors that will do well eventually because of COVID-19 like Health and Wellness, Insurance, etc., to haggle on fees.”
Virat Tandon, Group CEO, MullenLowe Lintas, says, “There are two big areas where our industry is getting affected. Firstly, new business wins have slowed down considerably. While more and more pitches are happening, clients are not committing on budgets or are slow to take a call on choosing agencies because they themselves are in a state of flux. In any year, the new business contribution to revenue for an agency of our size is at least between 10% and 15%. So, if that engine slows down, automatically that has an impact. Secondly, there are some non-core clients of our agency who have asked for some relaxation on revenue on a temporary basis, because they are struggling. Fortunately for us, our core clients comprise companies which are still stable during the crisis. Then there are others who are even launching new products in these times, getting into more relevant categories like health and hygiene. So, we are getting new mandates also now, in fact, we will be launching a campaign for a new product next week.”
On one hand, most advertisers are seriously looking at Q2 and Q3 to revitalize their business to avoid a 2020 washout, with the help of creative agencies who are also their strategic partners in the journey. On the other hand, there have been requests to waive fees. Most agencies are saying such demands are strictly temporary in nature because starting June, with markets re-opening to some extent, the advertising-related work needed will be extensive and advertisers are aware of that.
Explaining why it is a temporary ask, Aditya Kanthy, CEO & MD, DDB Mudra Group, says, “We have over 100 clients and not all brands are asking for fees to be revised to tide over this crisis. Those who are doing so, are requesting it in the spirit of partnership, rather than a blanket re-evaluation. While these are short-term moves, it is possible that they will have long-term implications for the group. No one knows what the next few quarters will look like, and any long-term decisions by clients or agencies will only be made when a clearer picture emerges.”

So what kind of rebates or reduction in retainer fee are advertisers demanding at this point? Rohit Ohri explains, “There are clients in travel, tourism, the real estate sector, etc., where understandably the business impact has been huge, where the revenues have gone to zero, so it is only fair that they ask - after all, there is an element of partnership between the client and his agency where we also want to help them tide over the crisis. So some clients have sought a reduction in retainer fee, which is an average of 20% to 30% for just three months, not the entire year. Then there are the e-commerce players and insurance companies, whose businesses have done well, they haven’t taken advantage of the situation by asking for a fee reduction.”
Aditya Kanthy adds that there isn’t a rulebook for how advertisers are communicating during the pandemic. “While some clients have slowed down activity, there are examples of heightened activity too. For example, we launched a big digital entertainment brand in the middle of the lockdown and have done an extraordinary amount of work on brands such as Delhi International Airport in the past 60 days, more than what we would have done under normal circumstances. It feels counter-intuitive because, after all, their infrastructure is related to air travel which had come to a standstill. But even as the airport remained closed, they used social media to provide information and address queries, making them the number one airport in the world on social media with regards to response and engagement. So it’s not just about whether work has increased or reduced, but also a question of redirecting energies, investments and deploying the right capabilities.”
Asked how many of their clients have cut down all marketing communication or agency-related spends, Kanthy says, “The number is less than a fraction of our roster. We have a well-diversified roster of category-leading businesses with strong brand equity. So the foundation of recovery is well in place.”

The agency heads we spoke to say that there have been few revisions in the contracts for projects signed before the lockdown, but advertisers that are discussing new ones are bringing the sentiment prevailing outside to the negotiating table. So, if a project cost Rs 10 earlier, advertisers would prefer to close the deal at Rs 8 or 9. Agencies say that they charge for the complexity of the problem as well as the time spent on it, and both don’t change, in fact more time is required because of that many more challenges in production at this point. So, a reduction in fee, unless the advertisers are from some of the battered sectors, is not fair.
Interestingly, a fairly young independent agency which has clients like MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, Hindware, etc., didn’t wait for its clients to ask for a rebate, instead within days of the lockdown, it pro-actively offered a blanket double digit discount to clients across the board for the next quarter. Hemant Misra, Founder, Magic Circle, explains, “The business of all my clients had come to a standstill because of the lockdown; so I offered them a cut and thankfully all of them agreed and didn’t ask for a further discount. July onwards, most clients will advertise aggressively, even now we are churning out a lot of work. If you have a good relationship with your client, there is no reason why you won’t take a quarter’s cut because I have experienced clients bailing agencies out of their problem at times by giving them money in advance too.”
At places where the crisis is genuine, the agency partners have extended support voluntarily. Tejas Mehta, CEO, What’s Your Problem, says, “As far as retainers are concerned, nobody has come back asking us to revise the fee overall. But they have asked for a fee holiday for a month or two in cases where products were coming in from China or if manufacturing had completely come to a standstill in those categories. In fact, we have gone back to some clients and said if we have not done any work for you in the past two months, in the interest of integrity, we are waiving off your retainer fee for April or May. As partners, it is our job to be worried about the client’s business efficacy just as the communication efficacy.”

On the bright side, Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Creative Head, What’s Your Problem, adds, “We have been lucky to win businesses during this time – one in the OTT space, in insurance and a couple of projects in the jewellery space as well. There are also brands whose scope of work has increased manifold in this period; for them we have had additional fees coming in. So, there are clients for whom we have waived off retainer fees on our own and there are clients who have increased retainer fees for that duration owing to scope of work. We want to be fair in our dealings with clients, even if it is detrimental to the agency’s immediate growth. We are honest and feel supporting a partnership is more important than the contract itself.”
Another agency head, who did not wish to be named, said that there are cases where clients have ended their retainer contracts abruptly. Talking about a luxury brand they handled, which was into accessories and décor, he says, “As soon as the lockdown started, they conveyed to us that as a designer brand, they feel that they will be nowhere in the preference zone of the consumer in the next year. They were on retainer so they said that they will pay us for the two-month lock-in period of the retainer contract, and post that, they wanted to close the account. Thus they have called off all their contracts with their partners.”

Satbir Singh, Founder, Thinkstr, says, “All businesses have caught the virus. Some that depended on imports from China, have been impacted from the time Wuhan hit the headlines. That has upset fees and payments in many cases. It is still too early to say how things will be six months from now. With sports leagues opening up in Europe, IPL before Diwali could be a remote possibility. We need morale-lifting events. If the virus is controlled within acceptable limits, Diwali could see an advertising and marketing spike. A lot depends on these twin events.”
Business experts we spoke to say that the real impact of the lockdown will be seen in the second quarter of 2020, because companies had the cash flows to sustain themselves and their creative agencies in the last few months, but once the cash flow dries up, and in the event there is no revival in the coming three months, there will be a bloodbath for the ad agencies, as advertisers will cut down on spends.
Neelima Burra, Business and Marketing Strategist (former Country Marketing Director, HP) sums it up, “So far, the clients have been on a wait and watch mode because no one knew how long the lockdown would last. Currently, agency contracts have not been impacted, but you will see a cut down into these fees by as much as 40% in the next three months time, when you will witness the real impact of revenue and cash flow rotation. That is when the discussions will get tougher. I have worked in various organizations as part of the leadership team and whenever there has been a recession, the cost structures have been questioned and restructured and A&M is always one of the biggest casualties because of the inability to measure its impact accurately. So those conversations will happen soon, unless Q2 is fabulous in terms of consumer spending.”


Agencies have often accused brands of negotiating to the last penny, but during the lockdown, most brands have not been ruthless, say admen. Here, MDs and CMOs of a few major brands tell us why most of them chose to go for temporary or no cuts instead of yearly revision of agency fees.

According to Rajesh Ramakrishnan, MD, Perfetti Van Melle India,“In the last two months, we haven’t really advertised except spending very little on Digital, because our sales had come to a halt owing to the lockdown. We work with McCann and Ogilvy on retainership model where work is on for future campaigns. The way the agencies work and the outputs that they'll deliver, etc., might go through some optimization because of the situation. But fundamentally, I don't see too much of change in our existing contracts, even if we reduce spends for the coming months. Talking about getting off retainers to save cost and advertise on a need basis, it may work for some industries like travel and hospitality that have been significantly impacted. But for FMCG and our kind of categories, if things get back to some semblance of normalcy, then the demand will come back too,” says

Anil Dua, Executive Director & Group CEO, Dish TV India Limited, adds, “The work for our creative agencies has become more critical and increased significantly. We have virtually turned out hundreds of creative elements across various media. We have long-standing and continuous relations with our creative partners. As a general process, we are evaluating all our contracts and services and discussions will be based on scope and deliverables as and when agreements come up for renewal. We are working with multiple agencies on the basis of brand requirements. As of now, we are continuing with the retainer model as brands need continuity in strategic and creative inputs. Our brands Dish TV, D2h and Watcho have been working with some of the biggest and best agencies in the country. But we have never hesitated to work with new creative outfits if they have a better fit with our deliverables. Size is really not a criterion.”

Sanjay Bhutani, Managing Director, Bausch & Lomb, India, says they did ask their mainline agency for a rebate and they were willing to give a discount.
“We work with FCB Ulka, which is our mainline agency and Kinnect, which is our digital agency. Both are on retainer basis. So with the lockdown, we did ask our mainline agency for a rebate and they were willing to give us a discount too considering that the work pressure which used to be there earlier, is not there now. We haven’t thought of revising the yearly fee yet because we are seeing the demand coming back, but it's quite slow. Post June, things may improve in a hurry or may even get worse, and that is when we can make predictions on the numbers. Some brands have kind of gained during the lockdown, so their spends might go up,”he says.

Sanjeev Mantri, Executive Director, ICICI Lombard, shares that they are not looking at revising their retainer contract. "Our belief is that some highs and lows will happen, and for that necessarily do we need to go about renegotiating our contracts. We work on retainer basis with Ogilvy and some others on project basis. Because we are in a long-term partnership, we haven’t gone about it in terms of seeking any massive renegotiation from Ogilvy. Having said that, there is a correlation between what we spend and what we can earn. So June-July-August will be a critical period to see some bit of rebound and we do believe that May has been better than April, and June will be better than May,” he shares.

“We were working on a retainer with L&K Saatchi and Saatchi since 2014 but last year, switched to the project model. If I'm forced to do a deal right now for a project, I will actually go for the conservative approach and say ‘Hey, I want a certain big discount because we all need to kind of share the pain’. For most brands, 25% to 30% discount on a project model is fair, and when it comes to a retainer, 30% or so. If you think about it, we have lost 2.5 months fully and even the next month largely. So 25% to 30% of the year has effectively gone away, where brands have made zero revenue; so by direct proportion, the cost on retainer should be 25% to 30% lower, maybe even zero for these months and then another 25%-30% cut in the balance months,” adds Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer, Pepperfry

Anshuman Chakravarty, Head Brand & Corporate Communication, Orient Electric Limited, says “Our last campaign ended by March-end. We had plans for April, but then decided against any advertising for both April and May. Going forward in June, we will take a call in the first half on how to go about it. In the last two months, our mainline agency Contract Advertising was working on campaigns which were in the pipeline. For our digital agency, Digitas, their work has gone up. There has been no change in the contracts as yet. As the market opens up, demand patterns will change, so, we will evaluate agencies and the capabilities that are required to go further, but it would be on a short-term basis, not yearly at this point. As far as small and medium-sized companies are concerned, project-based work will go up.”

Ramnik Chhabra, Executive Director-Marketing,
Motilal Oswal Financial Services, says the work they did during the lockdown was managed in-house. "Our creative agency, Mullen Lintas, is working on a much larger campaign for after the lockdown, that's for TV and Digital both. We decide on an agency and work on a series of projects with that agency only. That way, we both get the benefit of long-term partnership. Every year, we do two-three campaigns with the agency and the plan is the same for this year too. We had worked out our project fees for the agency in February, and everything has changed in the market after that. But we don’t want to change their contract because they are providing a service, and adding certain value, and must be compensated correctly for it,” he informs.

Amit Sethiya, CMO, Syska Group, adds, “IBD India, a Percept-Hakuhodo company, is our mainline agency on retainer. I think their job has increased during the lockdown. They have had to put out more content, which is very situational or thematic, and are going beyond communication to think how we can create more revenue and demand for our products. For example, we had to make our products available at medical shops and kirana shops during these two months. Syska LED was synonymous with Irrfan Khan, but now the agencies have to work doubly hard to create the same magic. We need them to prepare for August onwards, when festivals will begin in India. There are brands that are looking to save 10%-15% money by cutting agency fee but that is not us. We started the journey with the agency five years ago, and they have seen our business grow from nothing to what it is today; this is the time that we should support them. So we are not revising any fee.”

“Today, our agencies are busier because they are not making one-size-fits-all ads, but focusing on customized messaging. We work with Mastergram Conway + Partners, Aagneya Advertising and Wondrous, and just called for a pitch for a fourth one as the amount of creative development required at this point is humungous. For the longest time, we had these agencies on retainer, but just after lockdown, we relooked at relationships and moved them into a hybrid model customized to each agency. In fact, costs have gone up in a hybrid model, but we are getting better efficiencies this way. At no point was the objective to cut agency costs, but to realign costs to get serviced better. I would prefer to work with specialized boutique agencies over a network agency, with one partner offering multiple solutions, each of which they may not specialize in,” underllines Karan Kumar, CMO, DLF Limited

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Jim Sarbh ‘breaks through’ societal judgment in a bold campaign by Infinix India

The campaign is about empowering individuals to defy convention and unlock their true and unique potential

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 2:58 PM   |   2 min read


Infinix, a new age technology brand, has launched a brand film titled ‘#BreakThrough’. In a society bound by judgments and stereotypes, Infinix has taken a daring stance by showcasing the spirit of those who fearlessly defy the status quo. The film showcases characters often considered as societal outcasts, such as homeless individuals and sex workers, to highlight the need for inclusivity.

Breaking away from conventional norms, Infinix introduces a refreshing concept in the film. Instead of relying on traditional celebrity endorsements, the brand opts for a creative approach by featuring Jim Sarbh in a captivating cameo role. Jim becomes the eyes of society, portraying a range of shocking and never-seen-before looks, sparking intrigue and manifesting engagement from audiences in the form of the viral social media sensation 'Spot Jim’.

The core message of ‘#BreakThrough’ revolves around Infinix India's unwavering commitment to surpass industry standards and deliver breakthrough products that provide meaningful solutions to consumers' lives. By championing inclusivity and celebrating individuals who defy societal molds, Infinix reinforces its dedication to creating a world that embraces diversity and encourages innovation.

“As a new-age tech brand, Infinix India believes in pushing boundaries, challenging norms, and driving innovation. We are committed to redefining what is possible in the tech ecosystem through our ever expanding categories and unique propositions.

'Break Through,' resonates and mirrors the journey that Infinix has undertaken by defying convention and bringing meaningful solutions to people’s lives. Through this film, we want individuals to believe in the power of their potential and the importance of embracing differences,” said Anish Kapoor, CEO, Infinix. “We chose to tell this story along with the extremely talented Jim Sarbh, who rightly embodies the brand's spirit.”

Jim Sarbh said, “Referring to a quote by Carl Jung ‘Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.’ I am glad brands like Infinix are spreading the message of acceptance, understanding and community building.”


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Vermillion Communications gets Aparna Enterprises Limited and Nexon Paints accounts

The agency will provide creative support, branding, strategy, and digital marketing support to the brands

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 1:05 PM   |   1 min read


Vermillion Communications Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, is proud to announce its significant and remarkable presence in the vibrant state of Telangana. The Southern HQ of Vermillion Communications has recently secured major accounts in the region, solidifying its position as a leading communications and marketing agency in South India.

The agency has secured two substantial accounts based in Telangana during the second quarter. Aparna Enterprises Limited and Nexon Paints, both headquartered in Hyderabad, have chosen Vermillion Communications Chennai as their appointed agency for creative support, branding, strategy, and digital marketing.

Formerly known as Saicoat Paints, Nexon Paints has been a trusted name manufacturing high-quality, environmentally friendly decorative paints for over a decade. The brand is swiftly emerging as a leading manufacturer, offering excellent value for money and an extensive range of paints for both exteriors and interiors. Nexon Paints has gained substantial traction among consumers in South India and is on a mission to establish itself as a national brand. Vermillion Communications is excited to be a part of Nexon Paints’ journey, contributing to its growth through creative strategy and branding. We are confident that Nexon Paints will become one of the most preferred paint brands in the country. Our goal is to create a powerful presence of the brand in the market and ensure its success.

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Anil Kapoor decodes ‘the science of peaceful sleep’ in The Sleep Company campaign

The campaign talks about The Sleep Company's patented SmartGRID technology

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 12:55 PM   |   2 min read

The Sleep Company

The Sleep Company has unveiled its latest campaign featuring brand ambassador Anil Kapoor.

The #ScienceOfPeacefulSleep campaign sees Kapoor endorsing the company’s patented SmartGRID technology mattresses which combines cutting-edge science and technology to enhance sleep quality.

The campaign talks about The Sleep Company's patented SmartGRID technology.

Anil Kapoor, actor and brand ambassador, The Sleep Company, said, “Sleeping peacefully has always been a top priority for me to maintain overall health and wellbeing. It gives me immense pleasure to be a part of The Sleep Company family for three consecutive years now. It's not just about promoting a brand; it's about enhancing the quality of people's lives through peaceful sleep. The Sleep Company’s SmartGRID technology truly redefines the way we sleep, and I'm excited to continue spreading the word about the importance of a peaceful sleeping experience with this exceptional brand."

Commenting on the new campaign, Priyanka Salot, Founder, The Sleep Company said, "While countless sleep tips and tricks are being made popular every day, one of the fundamental root causes of poor sleep often goes unaddressed – the absence of a scientifically-proven, high-quality mattress. Our mission is to continually enhance the quality of life for our customers through our patented SmartGRID products. Mr. Anil Kapoor's charismatic and energetic persona brings to life the essence of this campaign – educating consumers about how our products epitomise the science of peaceful sleep, enhancing overall sleep quality, and ultimately enriching lives."

Ripal Chopda, Chief Marketing Officer, The Sleep Company, also shared his insights on the campaign, stating, "Our campaign is a testament to our commitment to revolutionising the way people perceive and achieve quality sleep. With Mr. Anil Kapoor, we have successfully conveyed the message that science is the ultimate key to peaceful sleep. This campaign reinforces our dedication to offering innovative sleep solutions, backed by rigorous scientific research, to enhance the well-being of our customers."

The campaign has been conceptualised by The Sleep Company in collaboration with World Without Walls.

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Zoo Media Network wins Goldmedal Electricals' digital marketing mandate

While full-funnel creative and media services will be managed by FoxyMoron, Pollen will be responsible for curating influencer campaigns for the brand

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 12:47 PM   |   2 min read


Zoo Media Network has won the mandate for Goldmedal Electricals Pvt Ltd. The network won the mandate following a multi-agency pitch.

The mandate for digital marketing includes full-funnel creative and media services, which will be managed by Zoo Media Network’s flagship agency, FoxyMoron. Meanwhile, Pollen, the leading influencer marketing agency under the network, will be responsible for curating robust influencer campaigns for the brand, all managed from Zoo Media Network’s Mumbai headquarters.

Kishan Jain, Director of Goldmedal Electricals, expressed his enthusiasm about this partnership, saying, "As a company engaged in the business of making amazing wiring and electrical devices, we wanted to partner with the best to showcase our philosophy and product innovations in the digital space. With its depth of services, technical expertise, and track record of handling some of the best brands in the business, Zoo Media was an obvious choice. We are excited about this association and look forward to creating some iconic communication ideas together that will lead to a stronger, more meaningful connection with our end consumers."

Commenting on the win Vivek Das, CEO of FoxyMoron [Zoo Media], said, “At Zoo Media, we are always excited to partner with brands that are on a journey of evolution towards a digital-centric model. Goldmedal Electricals has a fantastic product portfolio with a high technology quotient, and we will be partnering with them to elevate the brand's recognition & association with customers across the spectrum towards a purposeful & more profitable relationship.

We believe magic happens at the confluence of content, media, data and technology. To achieve this, FoxyMoron will lead the engagement, driving overall digital strategy, creativity and media in collaboration with Pollen on influencer marketing. We look forward to bringing the power of the Zoo Media network to Goldmedal Electricals.”
Pratik Gupta, Co-Founder of Zoo Media, shared, “Indian-owned businesses always inspire us at Zoo Media. Our recent discussions with the Directors and the marketing team at Goldmedal Electricals have reinforced my belief that these businesses are well-equipped not just to compete but thrive in the highly competitive market.
I'm excited about using Zoo Media's strengths to help Goldmedal Electricals achieve its business goals through effective, measurable marketing.”

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Finolex Pipes takes the quirky path to demonstrate reliability of CPVC, SWR pipes

The campaign has been executed in collaboration with Schbang Motion Pictures

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 12:16 PM   |   2 min read


Finolex Pipes is bringing a wave of humour and insight to the fore with their latest ad film campaign. The brand has launched two captivating and humorous ad films that spotlight the exceptional functionality of their CPVC and SWR pipes in an entertaining narrative.

In collaboration with Schbang Motion Pictures, the ad films feature the iconic trio of plumbers engaging in lively conversations about the unique characteristics of each pipe.

The aim is to not only educate but also entertain the audience, building a strong consumer connection through humour and relatable scenarios.

The taglines for the films capture the very essence of Finolex Industries' commitment to providing dependable solutions. For Finolex CPVC Pipes, the tagline 'Thanda-Garam sahega, paani behta rahega' reflects the enduring quality of withstanding both hot and cold water applications, even under high pressures and ensuring a seamless flow.

Similarly, for Finolex SWR Pipeline, the tagline 'Easy to fit hain, har mausam mein hit hai' emphasizes the pipe's ease of installation and reliability, making it a hit choice for every season.

Ashok Jaiswar, Vice-President, Head of Marketing and Communications at Finolex Industries, shared his thoughts, stating. “After receiving a positive response from our valued customers and pertinent stakeholders for our campaign 'Peedhiyan Badlengi, Pipe Nahi,' we are delighted to announce the forthcoming sequels. These new campaigns are not just about showcasing our products but it’s about celebrating the trust our customers have placed in us. Our unwavering commitment remains in delivering top-quality solutions that stand the test of time. These ad films embody our core ideology of trust, innovation, and reliability."

He added, "Humor is a universal language, and through these entertaining ad films, we aim to connect with our consumers in a light-hearted and relatable way. The characters, coupled with the witty taglines, highlight the durability and functionality of our pipes, making it easier for consumers to connect with our brand."

Harshit Karnatak, Group Creative Manager at Schbang, also expressed his excitement, stating, "Our partnership with Finolex for this endeavor was a thrilling chance to spotlight innovation and dependability in the plumbing domain. Through the cinematic lens, we infused vitality into Finolex's 'Peedhiyan Badlengi, Pipe Nahi' campaign, placing its fundamental principles and the long-lasting trust it fosters under the spotlight."

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Moj's new brand film talks about joy of authenticity

The film is titled #MojPeHiMojHai

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 7:07 PM   |   2 min read


Moj, a short video platform, has unveiled a new brand film that positions the platform as the ultimate destination for authentic content that celebrates joyful moments of one’s everyday life.

“With Moj, users can express their true selves, share their unique perspectives, and showcase what brings them the most happiness,” stated a press release. The brand film is titled #MojPeHiMojHai.

The film unfolds the journey of a young woman who feels a rush of energy as she scrolls through the Moj App. The narrative guides us through a sequence of enjoyable and cheerful scenarios, immersing the young woman in the diverse content available on Moj. Whether it's a spirited dance video, a serene beach getaway, the thrill of playing street cricket, or the excitement of trying out a new recipe, the app immerses her in relatable content that elicits feelings of joy and exhilaration.

Announcing the launch of the brand film, Mousumi Mishra, Head of Consumer Marketing for ShareChat & Moj, said, “Seeking relief from the ‘flex culture’ and endless scrolling of perfectly curated content, our young consumers today are looking for authentic content that reflects their world. Moj has been the platform of choice for India’s youth serving them a variety of content which is relatable to their distinct personalities and is served to them as per what their individual idea of a joyful moment is. Everyone can find their unique idea of happiness reflected on Moj, across content of different genres – dance, music, comedy, cooking, films, astrology - and it is this emotion that is perfectly reflected in the film.”

The brand film, produced by Schbang, has been launched in four languages, namely Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.


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Lost in translation? The curious case of agencies and ASCI guidelines

The sheer number of ad violations begs the question of whether agencies are having trouble interpreting the advertising body's guidelines

By Tanzila Shaikh | Sep 21, 2023 7:50 AM   |   6 min read


With the creator economy poised to grow into a Rs 2,200 crore strong industry in the next two years (as per GroupM), the space has become the cynosure of all eyes. But with growth also comes reports of violations and frauds.  

To curb such flagrant practices, the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) along with government bodies is making a concerted effort by enforcing guidelines for self-regulation.

Yet, in its Annual Complaints Report 2022-2023, ASCI revealed some unsettling information regarding influencer infractions after reviewing 7,928 ads. Instances of violations of influencers reached an all-time high of 26% with 2,039 complaints during the time period. The most common influencer-related breaches were found in the personal care, food & beverage, and fashion and lifestyle categories.  

Given the number of violations, it begs the question of whether much is getting lost in translation despite ASCI’s guidelines. Is there a communication gap that’s leading to these infractions?  

A rejection of guidelines? 

Viren Sean Noronha, Co-Founder, of The New Thing says, “A running joke is that ASCI is the Voldemort of marketing. But it's not a communication gap; it's a rejection of guidelines at the core. It’s because they disrupt the user experience on social. This is a valid concern, as guidelines must integrate seamlessly with the channel and maintain a positive user experience.  

Noronha argues that the current shape and form of ASCI guidelines make paid partnerships “stand out like a sore thumb.”  

“If branded content doesn’t blend seamlessly with your organic feed, it’ll fall into the same blind spots that performance marketing assets do,” he points out.  

Noronha also notes that the real gap is the compulsion to use over tags and callouts of paid promotions, despite platforms offering native ways to declare promos. “Channels are constantly evolving. Why shouldn’t a guideline about them evolve along with them?”  

“We would be happy to work with the regulatory bodies on enforcing the rules,” says Viraj Sheth, Co-Founder & CEO at Monk Entertainment (Monk-E), who asserts that the onus of enforcing rules and regulations rests with all parties involved.  

He adds a caveat: “The communication also needs to be more regular in nature if these are to be followed thoroughly like is the case with rules and regulations in any and all industries."

Dhruv Sheth, CEO- Keeda Media and Partner - Kulfi Collective and Ex-OML, believes that some violations in the beginning are unavoidable in any case. “I think any new law that is applied will have a series of violations in the beginning due to lack of information and lack of knowledge of due process. I don’t think there is malice from any party to violate the rules. In my view, the crucial metric to monitor is the recurrence of rule violations, and efforts should be focused on establishing guidelines to rectify that.”

According to Preety Singh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Boomlet Group, the sector is in a developmental stage and even the guidelines that have been introduced are relatively new. “Certainly, there is a pressing need for improved communication of these rules and guidelines. All influencer marketing agencies and influencers should work together to generate awareness for adhering to these guidelines. The most effective way to mitigate violations is through comprehensive awareness and education efforts”, she added.

Since the guidelines differ according to the sectors, some communication gap is bound to happen, according to Shivam Agarwal, Co-founder, Kromium. “Yes there is a communication gap. Guidelines differ sector-wise but agencies have clients across sectors.”  

Together for the greater good  

To bring some semblance of order in this chaotic ecosystem, ASCI and the government should adopt a collaborative approach, say experts. The unanimous thought is that it’s easy to point out mistakes but what actually helps prevent these mistakes is collaboration and helping each other towards a greater goal. 

Dhruv Sheth says, “The most effective approach in engaging with brands and influencers is to communicate on their own terms. There hasn't been a designated figure to correctly illustrate the guidelines and demonstrate their practical application in everyday business. That would be the most helpful - to talk to brands and influencers in a format that makes it easier for them to understand and thus comply.” 

In a similar vein, Viraj Sheth also recommends a collaborative approach. “I would suggest they work seamlessly with brands and the decision makers in these companies to ensure better implementation of these regulations. If there is more advocacy amongst these stakeholders and more interactions with the ASCI team, they will open up to these regulations more and ensure that they are enforced in all of their future campaigns.”  

He also notes that while the rules are not being completely followed by everyone in the industry, there is still quite a big uptick in terms of implementation of ASCI regulations. 

“As an existing player in this ecosystem, I am happy to chime in whatever capacity possible to assist the ASCI team to spread more awareness on this,” he states. 

Singh recommends that the government initiate campaigns that would serve as benchmarks for the influencer marketing ecosystem. “Such campaigns could greatly assist influencers, brands, and agencies in establishing clear parameters within which they can create innovative campaigns that align with the guidelines. As of now, raising awareness and setting benchmarks are crucial,” she avers. 

“What could also help is a single cohesive document stating laws for different industries,” adds Agarwal. 

Rules for thee, but not for me?

An industry insider, on the condition of anonymity, said that errant agencies also deserve a rap on the knuckles like brands and influencers do: “I believe even the agencies handling them should be questioned. ASCI needs to hold them accountable.”  

The insider contends that creators or celebs may be unaware of the guidelines, unlike the agencies. They are responsible for guiding their clients, hence, the lion’s share of the blame for violation should be borne by the agencies. “I believe that it is these agencies don’t take the rules seriously because they are not held accountable at all. Either way, they get their business irrespective of the guidelines.”

While advertisers and influencers bear the brunt of the violations, do the agencies who execute the campaigns and whose duty it is to adhere to the rules escape unscathed?  

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General of ASCI says, “Agencies work on briefs created by clients who give the final approval. Of course, they need to be responsible and under the law; agencies are also held accountable.” She also states that the laws for agencies are outlined in the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

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