‘Ghosting’ haunts creative agencies as more & more brands disappear after calling pitches

The phenomenon of ‘ghosting’ is not new in the sector, but its extent and scale have gone up over the past couple of years, say ad sector experts

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Oct 11, 2022 8:24 AM  | 4 min read
pitch

After two years of subdued business, advertising agencies in India are now grappling with a fresh challenge- ‘ghosting’ by brands.

Brands are increasingly disappearing and going incommunicado for months after calling for pitches. Such is the pain that the ad agencies have started maintaining a blacklist of the brands that indulge in, what they refer to as, “unethical” and “humiliating” practices.

The phenomenon of ghosting is not new in the sector; brands in all categories have been indulging into such practices and every agency must have experienced it at some point in time. However, the extent and scale of ghosting have gone up over the past couple of years, say ad sector experts.

Amit Wadhwa, CEO of dentsu creative India, gives a glimpse of the ordeal creative agencies are going through.

“We have blacklisted a few brands, including a startup which made a fortune during the pandemic, due to their weird approach. They invited pitches, had lengthy discussions and then stopped communicating with us, only to reappear after months without any remorse,” he explains.

Wadhwa added, “The approach of some brands is outrightly unethical and frustrating. It is quite challenging for us to collate the human resources at the last minute and force them to deliver with a tight deadline. Hence we decided to not work with such brands ever.”

Zoo Media has also blacklisted many such brands, many of them are startups, for wasting the agency’s time and resources.

Pratik Gupta, Co-founder Zoo Media, tells e4m, “While ghosting may have been minimally prevalent in the earlier days too, there has been a mammoth and massive rise in ghosting techniques circa 2019. Our industry has witnessed a significant increase in such cases in the last three years.”

Ghosting affects an agency's resources on a tangible financial level. After all, creative personnel have to spend two-four weeks preparing a thorough pitch for any brand which calls for pitches on retainership basis, ad agency heads say.

Gupta explains, “Losing a deal is part and parcel of life, but if you are ghosted, you are hung by a stressful thread. From an administrative point of view, the team can’t even manage its talent pool efficiently since nobody knows when the client could come back out of nowhere.”

A few brands even end up setting their in-house agency for creative work after evaluating outsourcing options for a long time.

Advertising agencies are not paid for pitching which ensures that the brands have an upper hand. To make matters worse, if they ask for a pitch fee, their pitch gets rejected 90% of the time, Gupta said.

Ghosting is similar to what we have faced in one too many dates. You get stood up. In this case, by a potential client, quips Vikash Chemjong, CCO, Cheil India.

Chemjong explains, “These advertisers are usually the kind you don’t want to end up with, like in a relationship. What begins on a wrong note, ends up as a disaster. Brand building is about teamwork and most importantly, standing by each other, come rain or come shine. It’s about showing up, not being stood up.”

Ghosting incidents are on the rise today especially for smaller agencies, he added.

 

‘We are not just service providers’

Ghosting is thoroughly unethical and frustrating, rue industry experts who believe that they are being treated as just service providers by marketing heads of the brands.

“There is also visible unrest amongst the talent that worked on the pitch,” says Gupta.

Chemjong echoes the sentiments. “I think principles are of no value today except when you sell them! Maybe it’s the times we live in, the changing value system, the transience of all relationships, or the sheer number of options available to play the field (for both parties) that the consequences are being felt – be it in life or life in the times of advertising.”

 

‘Young CMOs ghost the most’

Agencies blame it on the young and inexperienced CMOs for their plight. Most of them are from startups, they say

“There has been a huge churn in the industry over the past two-three years and many brands have hired young professionals in their marketing departments. They are often clueless and ruthless both,” allege an ad agency leader.

 

No guidelines to nail the erring brands

Does the ad industry or any agency body have any guidelines in place to deal with erring brands who often ghost, disappear after pitching for months and then reappear?

Gupta says no. “Each one has to deal with the situation on its own.”

 

 

 

 

 

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vivo brings alive the bitter-sweet moments of an Indian wedding in new ad film

The film conceptualised by Havas Worldwide India stars Karan Wahi and Anya Singh

By exchange4media Staff | Apr 1, 2023 2:00 PM   |   3 min read

vivo

vivo has launched a heart-warming film for its latest innovation, the vivo V27 Series, India’s first phone that captures stunning photos with its industry-first Wedding Style Portrait Feature.

Boasting of stunning looks, a 120Hz 3D Curved Display and an Ultra Slim Design, the new V27 Series is the perfect phone for anyone who wants to make memories of their special day even more spectacular. The campaign which follows an earlier film featuring Virat Kohli, has been created around the idea of ‘The Spotlight Phone’ and stars Karan Wahi in a playfully touching film.

Conceptualised by Havas Worldwide India, the film revolves around Karan Wahi helping his bride-to-be, Anya Singh, celebrate the wedding ceremonies and sharing each of these moments with her brother who is unable to attend the wedding. Although the brother is sad to miss his sister's wedding, he is still a part of every moment via the stunning portrait photos taken using the vivo V27 phone, experiencing all the festivities first-hand.

Karun Arora, Head of Marketing Communications at vivo India, said, “At vivo, consumer orientation is the centre point of all our work and we’ve always believed in offering products that add value to our consumers lives. A practice that encourages us to proactively study their needs, lifestyle and most importantly culture. Speaking of culture, Indian weddings are a great source of inspiration for us. Wedding photos capture a moment that’s gone forever, and we at vivo want to be a part of that journey that even if consumer look at a picture for a second and think of it all his life and for the same we are delighted to launch a phone that is designed specifically to bring the best out of our beloved wedding moments with India’s 1st Wedding Style Portrait Feature. Our beautiful film endorses its use to perfection giving us the confidence that our young audience will love putting their wedding moments in the spotlight with their V27 Series smartphone.”

Talking about the campaign, Anupama Ramaswamy, Chief Creative Officer, Havas Worldwide India, said, “Our latest campaign for the vivo V27 Series is an ode to the big fat Indian wedding. It is a wholesome, sweet and emotional take on how all the precious moments of an Indian wedding are incomplete without your loved ones, especially a close sibling. The sleek look of the phone along with the smart wedding styles add to the charm of the film, presenting the phone as a must-have for the wedding season. As a story, we believe a lot of people will be able to connect with it instantly.”

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Fevicol gets human OOH and 'Chipku Chair' to beat an age-old problem at sports events

Ogilvy has conceptualised and executed this quirky campaign at the Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 11:05 AM   |   1 min read

fevicol

In India, fighting for a place to sit is an age-old problem. Be it a sports stadium or a music concert, a crowded food court or an overcrowded public event, no finite number of chairs is ever enough to accommodate all. It's a weird problem. For which a weird solution was long due.  

Fevicol, being an ambassador of quirky thinking, took a crack at this strange problem at Kila Raipur Rural Sports festival. It's a Ludhiana-based annual sports event, where literally truck loads of people gather to witness a fair that holds desi Indian sports and games that are steeped in Indian culture. And as usual, the fight for seats at the venue is quite a sport in itself. So, Fevicol deployed several human OOH within the spectators to lend an out-of-the-box solution to this problem. How? With Fevicol's very own brand promise - The ultimate bond. 

Ogilvy conceptualised and executed this quirky out of the box communication. 

“India is a land of unique, unimaginable jugaad. So, we chose to address a very human problem with a jugaad-led innovation and a touch of Fevicol's quirky tonality. We hope this piece will strike a chord with our consumers,” says Talha Bin Mohsin, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Mumbai. 

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In IPL season, Yuvi & Bhajji bat for other sports in new Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign

 #CheerForAllSports takes an inclusive approach towards sports like wrestling, boxing, hockey, table tennis, etc. which are often sidelined for cricket

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 10:51 AM   |   5 min read

yuraj singh

With cricket mania in India reaching fever pitch and with more games coming up in the next couple of months, Cadbury Dairy Milk has launched its latest campaign, #CheerForAllSports Guided by the brand’s purpose to inspire generosity in people, the multichannel campaign aims to bring India together to cheer for the Indian athletes across other sports who will be playing during the same time as IPL. With this, the brand is taking another step forward to encourage India to share and participate in the happiness of others. This time, the brand is nudging that— ‘Har Indian team ki Khushi Mein Shaamil Hokar Dekho’, by supporting Indian athletes as they compete in wrestling, boxing, hockey, table tennis and other tournaments across the globe.

The idea #CheerForAllSports is also being manifested at the back of a tech-enabled engagement wherein the special INR 100 pack of Cadbury Dairy Milk— with a unique font at the front with each letter representing a different sport, comes with a QR code. This code, when scanned, will lead to a microsite with a calendar of other sporting events during the same period as the upcoming IPL season. This dedicated microsite allows users to sign up for reminders and includes links to watch and support India in other sports. Taking this a step further, the brand has made arrangements for screens to be put up at stadiums where Indian athletes will be playing, to showcase the people who join the stream to cheer for the Indian athletes. When a viewer joins the link shared via the microsite, they will join thousands more as they all come together to cheer for India— no matter where they are!

Speaking on the idea behind the campaign, Mr. Nitin Saini, Vice President, Marketing, Mondelez India said, Over the years, Cadbury Dairy Milk has been successfully fostering the spirit of generosity through its heartfelt campaigns. We have been consistently shining a spotlight on the unacknowledged, such as the ground staff and women in sports. Therefore, this year, we are taking the idea of generosity a step forward to other sports with Cadbury Dairy Milk #CheerForAllSports campaign. In a cricket loving nation like India, laurels won by athletes of other sports can often go unnoticed. Through this campaign, we aim to change this narrative and get India to cheer for athletes across other sports. We hope that our campaign inspires consumers to participate in the happiness of talented Indian athletes, evoking a sense of acchai and mithaas around all of us.” 

Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, commented, “#CheerForAllSports is our labor of love that's been 8 months in the making. In India, cricket is nothing short of a religion. It enjoys fandom that in unfathomable. But there are countless sports and countless sportspersons that remain unacknowledged, no matter the glory they bring our nation. This IPL season, Cadbury Dairy Milk is proud to create a platform to help celebrate these unsung sports and their heroes. The biggest challenge was to conceptualize an entire ecosystem that would revolutionize how every Indian could easily cheer for and lend their support to all sports. This phygital ecosystem was painstakingly engineered through association with sporting federations to integrate live digital and on-ground fan experiences. #CheerForAllSports will help curate the season's sporting calendar on an immersive and experiential microsite where you can watch live games along with Yuvi and Bhaji, and most importantly, brings all of these fans right into the stadium to create a thundering cheer for our unsung heroes.” 

Shekhar Banerjee, Chief Client Officer & Office Head – West, Wavemaker India, further highlighted, “We are trying to achieve something ingenious. We will be leveraging the scale of IPL to get the cricket cheering audiences to #CheerForAllSports. For this we have partnered with Star Sports, Jio Cinema and some of the popular sports celebrities in India. We are excited about how our online platform will enable participation and support cricket audiences to virtually cheer for Indian team participating in other sports”

Along with the shorties with Yuvraj and Harbhajan who are seen celebrating the win for other sports, the brand through their main film also captured key Indian Table Tennis, Hockey, Wrestling and Boxing athletes including Sharath Kamal, Diya Chitale, Hardik Singh, Varun Kumar and Deepak Puniya. In the film, these accomplished athletes talk about their experience of winning glory for the country in an empty stadium, and how this affects every sportsman’s morale. The film also shows Yuvraj and Harbhajan talking about their experiences through their career, playing for a stadium of fans cheering them on, and how they would want the same for all athletes representing India. The film goes on to show what having fans by their side, supporting them would mean for athletes.

"As we all know, in India the popularity of other sports is not as much as cricket is. Through its #CheerForAllSports campaign, Cadbury Dairy Milk is encouraging people to cheer for Indian athletes from other sports, which is a positive change. Amongst the many sportspeople, the campaign features some stars like Sharath Kamal (TT), Varun Kumar, and Hardik Singh (Hockey). #CheerForAllSports will get these stars in the spotlight and generate more support for non-cricket sports! added Jigar Rambhia, COO, Sporjo.”

This unique campaign will be supported by a 360-degree approach, including on-ground and instore activations, along with OOH activations outside the cricket stadiums. Cadbury Dairy Milk will also bring this alive through partnerships on social media and platforms such as The Bharat Army and CricBuzz, along with influencer engagement, and strategic engagement on social media channels.

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Roger Federer & Trevor Noah on ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’ in Switzerland

The campaign by Switzerland Tourism showcases the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

By exchange4media Staff | Apr 1, 2023 12:00 PM   |   2 min read

Train

Switzerland Tourism has unveiled its new film for its ongoing ‘I need Switzerland’ campaign to promote rail travel and the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland.

The film features the duo getting ready to take a train as part of a shoot to promote the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. They soon realize, they’ve gotten onto the wrong train on a different route to Interlaken, leaving the crew behind. Left on their own, Federer and Noah travel through Switzerland’s striking landscapes and find they’re having a great time even befriending a kind local lady for company who pays for their tickets. Once they hop off, the crew finds them just in time to take them back on the train they’re meant to be on, but they’ve had such a blast, they give the team the slip and run to catch another panoramic train ride on the route!

The route they take in the film is a part of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, the 1,280 kilometres train tour that leads from the most charming Swiss cities like Lucerne to Alpine villages like Zermatt, and through UNESCO World Heritage sites, impressive natural wonders such as the Rhine Falls and majestic mountains such as the Jungfraujoch, Titlis or Matterhorn. It allows visitors to explore all this and more, all year round, in comfort and at their convenience.

One can experience the entire tour with only one single ticket – the Swiss Travel Pass. This pass is the key to the Swiss public transport network. Visitors can hop on to Swiss trains, buses, trams and boats with this pass that can be bought for 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 days. To give travellers even more time to explore the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, there is a global Swiss Travel Pass promotion. As part of the special offer, from 15 April 2023 to 14 May 2023, up to two additional travel days will be added free of charge when buying an eligible Swiss Travel Pass.

This is Roger Federer’s third outing showcasing some of the most stunning sights, experiences and culture of his home country, raising the bar each time and setting new standards of national tourism advertising with Switzerland Tourism. In 2021, Federer featured in a film titled ‘No Drama’ with Hollywood legend Robert De Niro showcasing the ‘too perfect Switzerland’ and in 2022, he started alongside the super-talented actress Anne Hathaway to promote road trips as part of the Grand Tour of Switzerland.

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In cricket season, Rungta Steel’s TVC with Alia & Ranbir talks about solid partnerships

The TVC showcases Alia and Ranbir immersed in a playful talk highlighting the value of strong partnerships in personal and professional lives

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 4:43 PM   |   2 min read

rungta

Rungta Steel, a TMT bar and integrated steel products manufacturer, has unveiled their new TV commercial (TVC) featuring actor couple Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor that highlights the importance of strong partnerships in life.

With the return of the cricketing season starting off with Indian Premier League (IPL), Rungta's new TVC commercial draws parallels between cricket partnerships and the importance of solid relationships 'on and off the field.' The TVC showcases Alia and Ranbir immersed in a playful talk highlighting how a solid relationship can make a significant difference in achieving success and the value of strong partnerships in personal and professional lives. 

Commenting on the release of the new TV commercial, Mr. Arvind Kumar, Senior GM and Head- Marketing and Sales (TMT), “Both Alia and Ranbir are known for their exceptional talent and their ability to connect with audiences. Our new TVC captures the essence of the emotion and excitement of the cricketing season that is upon us. We wanted to celebrate this very spirit and hope our customers will love the new TVC and will be able to relate to it on a personal level. As an organization, we are constantly looking at new ways to innovate and improve our offerings. We have plans in the pipeline and announcements that we will be making in the near future”.  

The TV commercial features Rungta Steel’s products, highlighting the strength and durability of their steel products that can withstand even the toughest conditions, like how strong partnerships are built on trust and mutual respect. 

The release of the new TV commercial is part of Rungta Steel’s ongoing TVC campaign endeavor to connect with customers and key stakeholders and communicate their commitment to providing high- quality steel products. The new TV commercial starring Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor is a testament to the company’s commitment to quality, reliability and performance. 



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Bajaj’s campaign for new air cooler is about not giving up on dreams

The film is conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 3:52 PM   |   2 min read

bajaj

Consumer appliances brand Bajaj has unveiled its latest air coolers equipped with the 'DuraMarine Pump' through a pan-India multimedia campaign.

The brand released an ad film for the latest air coolers that target Indian consumers vying for a pleasant summer experience. Conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India, the ad campaign depicts the undying zeal for not giving up on dreams. The creative agency has linked the robustness of these air coolers with the youth of today who can endure, be resilient and consistently perform to the best of their abilities to achieve their dreams. The campaign aims to drive a larger message of how the latest range of air coolers signifies durability and promises the required strength to wither any challenges.

At the launch, Ravindra Singh Negi, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Product Business, Bajaj Electricals Limited, said, "Today, consumers prefer products that offer aesthetic appeal, comfort, and durability supported by newer advancements in technology. In the air coolers category, our intention behind this launch is to bring a solution, 'BUILT FOR LIFE', and comfort end consumers as temperatures soar. Our brand film effectively communicates the air coolers' aesthetic features and functional benefits while raising awareness of our cutting-edge products. We are confident that the brand film resonates with the youth of today who live their dream and work hard towards their passion". 

Ashish Chakravarty, Executive Director & Head of Creative, shared the core thought behind the brand's TVC, "The film showcases the unmatched determination and grit that consumers put in to achieve their goals. Music plays a critical role in setting the pace of the film. It allows us to accelerate the film to its crescendo gradually. Showing a passage of time and intensity. The to-and-for nature of the track allows us to seamlessly shift between product and protagonist, building a relationship between the two. BAJAJ is proud to partner in their journey to success, offering a durable and efficient product that complements their hard work."

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TVS Eurogrip Tyres rides on MS Dhoni’s sense of humour in IPL 2023 campaign

Campaign focusses on the tyre brand’s product features and relates it to MSD’s on-field escapades

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 3:12 PM   |   2 min read

eurogrip

TVS Eurogrip, a 2 & 3-wheeler tyre brand, has launched a comprehensive brand campaign with a series of ad films, bringing out the humorous best of M S Dhoni.

Leveraging the brand’s second year of partnership with IPL team CSK, the brand films have MS Dhoni sharing gripping stories from the field with his CSK teammates Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shivam Dube, Deepak Chahar and others.  The films laced with humour, match Dhoni’s cricketing skills to specific unique attributes of TVS Eurogrip tyres.

Sharing details about the campaign, P Madhavan, EVP, Sales and Marketing, TVS Srichakra Ltd said, “As the IPL extravaganza returns to all cities across India after a gap of three years, we are excited to rollout a fresh brand campaign to mark our second year of association with Chennai Super Kings as Principal Sponsor. The nuances of our product features have been brought out well in the new films. TVS Eurogrip is all about high performance and the best tyre technology that gives riders superior confidence on the roads.  Similarly, CSK is one of the most consistent and performing teams in the IPL arena. We are sure our continued association would lead to winning strides for both partners.”

The latest campaign is in line with the company’s ambition of building a youthful, vibrant brand that resonates with millennial and Gen Z Indian riders and aims to strengthen TVS Eurogrip’s positioning as “The Bike Tyre Specialist”. The ads focus on the high-speed stability, superior wet grip and anti-skid properties of the tyres and will be aired starting 31st March 2023, in sync with the start of the tournament. There is a complete surround programme planned for the on-air campaign across social media, traditional media like print and outdoor as well as on-ground activations.

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