‘If we can make it work for a client in India, we can make it work elsewhere’

Pieter-Jan de Kroon, Founder-CEO, Entravision MediaDonuts, shares with exchange4media the company’s future plans, its unique offerings and a lot more 

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Published: Jun 8, 2022 8:35 AM  | 11 min read
Entravision MediaDonuts

Digital marketing has been a growth engine for many companies and Entravision MediaDonuts, which claims to be a pioneer in the same, is one of them. According to the company, it has grown 100% Y-o-Y in the last three years. With barely 40 employees across Asia before the pandemic, the company has grown 3X in the two years of Covid.

exchange4media caught up with Founder-CEO Pieter-Jan de Kroon and Vidhu Sagar, Managing Director, India - Entravision MediaDonuts, to talk about the company’s future plans, unique offerings and a lot more. 

Vidhu Sagar


What are some of the unique offerings that your digital marketing agency has for clients? How do you stand out in the cluttered market?

Pieter: We are different because we’re not really an agency. Our business started off originally as in performance marketing, to help brands and agencies with the performance of their campaigns, and using programmatic advertising solutions to help deliver that performance. We’ve developed a technology stack over the years, and that allows us to run campaigns across any channel: display, video, native, social, and in delivering any objective a client might have. That’s worked well for us.

So, in terms of services, what is different in the performance marketing you’re offering?

Pieter: First of all is the fact that we commit to KPIs that the advertisers are looking for, especially in the performance space. For example, in India, and across most of East Asia, we work a lot with fintech, edutech and gaming clients. What we do for them is drive up installs at scale but commit to objectives beyond the install, like account opening, first transactions, and in-game purchases. That’s one of the things clients really like about us: that we can commit to these KPIs across media without risk, and we complement those performance solutions we’ve provided with unique commercial partnerships with social media and entertainment platforms.

For example, in India we have representation business with the likes of Tinder, B612, and Snow, with whom we have exclusive partnerships. On a bigger scale, we represent the likes of Twitter, TikTok, Spotify and so on. We combine our performance solutions with providing our partners with unique access to inventory that is exclusive to us.

Vidhu: While we’re a digital marketing company, that term itself has come to be abused so much that you don’t know where it begins or ends. Everything has become digital from WhatsApp marketing to email marketing and so on. Our focus area has been clearly on paid media solutions. We don’t actually create anything ourselves; we have a lot of agency partners in that space. We come in from the paid media solutions perspective where we made capital of our strengths in the area of performance marketing, riding on the brilliance of programmatic from an early stage, which we’ve developed to a fairly deep level now. Beyond that, there is an inherent duality in our business.

As a crude example, let’s imagine you’re a financial services software company and are making backend software for banks. Then you get so deep into it that you set up your own bank because you know the business so well. In a very crude sense, we’ve been doing the data science behind digital marketing for so long that we decided to add the other side of the business, which is the partnerships, as well. This duality allows people to see the business from both sides.

Are most of your clients global and APAC companies, or do you also have some India-specific names?

Vidhu: We have more local businesses, but few typical network clients like most agencies. We practically have everything homegrown, and in every market we have our own portfolio of clients.

Who are your key clients in India?

Vidhu: In India, if we talk about the biddable side of the business, which is really the conventional buying and planning model, including the programmatic piece, and who we work with directly, there is Adobe in the tech space, Adda52 and Spartan Poker in the gaming space, Metropolis from the medico-pharma space, Dalmia Cements in infrastructure, as well as a lot of restaurant brands like Domino’s and Pizza Hut as a result of our Tinder association.

It’s been one year since Entravision acquired MediaDonuts. How has been the journey so far? How has this alliance helped you both grow and add value to the joint venture?

Pieter: During pre-acquisition, what we realized is that especially within the representation space, consolidation is happening globally, and as a company we had a very strong presence in SE Asia, especially in countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, and with companies like Twitter and TikTok. We were approached by several companies around the same time, and we had a lot of conversations and realized it would help us to continue to grow at the rate we were going by being part of a bigger organization that has a global presence and we can benefit from global relationships. We ended up going into conversations with Entravision, as we found a very strong connection with the management team of Entravision personally and with their vision for the future. That led to the acquisition in July last year and it’s been a great journey so far.

Entravision is originally a broadcasting company, so there’s a TV and radio division that they began in 1996, which has 50 radio and 50 TV stations targeted towards Hispanics in the US. In 2014, they started their digital transformation strategy, by acquiring digital agencies around the world. Some of their other acquisitions include 365 Digital, DataXpand, and Cisneros, the last of which has exclusive representation of brands like Facebook, Spotify, Linkedin. So, it made sense to be part of such a group as we saw a lot of synergies in what they were doing particularly in markets like the Americas. They also didn’t have a presence in the APAC region and so Media Donuts represents Entravision in this market. This allows us to continue as we were and with what we were doing, while having a strong backing of a partner and large opportunities for growth in the markets we’re already present in as well as new ones, and it’s been going pretty much according to plan.

You work with many developed markets in the West. How different is the Indian market and what is the potential you see here?

Pieter: It’s very different of course. Firstly, I think it’s very dynamic here. We have learned a lot here as India, because of its large size, has a lot of opportunities as well as a lot of challenges. There’s a lot of competition, clients are very price sensitive and they always have many options. To be successful in India, you have to have a very unique offering, excellent customer service, and it mostly all comes down to performance, whether its budget or impact or ROI. Because there is so much competition, the expectations are very high and every company wants performance. Coming from Europe, I saw we’d have to approach a lot of things like price points and expectations from a very different angle. But it’s very interesting because it means if we can make it work for a client in India, we can probably make it work for clients elsewhere. And there have been a lot of lessons we’ve learned from India that we’ve applied elsewhere.

Compared to the West, the digital market in India is still at a pretty nascent stage but is growing rapidly. So, what are the opportunities you see in that?

Pieter: There are multiple opportunities. First is the reallocation of budgets, as advertisers are moving from traditional media like TV and OOH towards digital resources. And then within the digital space itself, there are a lot of opportunities as social media is dominated by a couple of players like Facebook as well as a few local players. There’s a lot of room for diversification in the space. Advertisers are looking to reallocate budgets from just Facebook (Meta) platforms and be present on other channels.

Vidhu: India may have been behind earlier. The learning curve has been really steep. Broadly speaking, the total AdEx in India is around Rs 75,000 crore right now, and 30% of it is digital AdEx. Six-seven years ago, I remember discussing with people that the UK was the only market in which digital had seen explosive growth and overtaken TV, and now India is not too far behind. Knowing that the size of the pie in India is much larger than in the western markets, the rate at which digital has grown is simply stupendous. Some of the work done by companies like us has also contributed to that.   

Do you have specific expertise or preference when it comes to different sectors whether it's fintech, medical, luxury or any other niche?

Pieter: Not really. We look at our business in three parts. The clients we work with are very diverse, but we look at them broadly in three units: social media, which is important due to our exclusive relationships with platforms like Twitter, TikTok etc., and this category includes brand advertisers like CPGs, QSRs and large banks. The second is with mobile apps, which have very specific categories like fintech, edutech, and gaming, which are the main categories. The third pillar of our business is commerce advertising, which is in its early days right now. We’ll be announcing several new commerce advertising partnerships in the days and weeks to come. This space is growing very fast and will feature a lot of different advertisers, not just e-commerce and retail platforms, but anyone selling any product anywhere, and we want to become an established player in the space.

Where do you see yourselves five years from now?

Pieter: Everything is evolving so fast. Look at how TikTok led to innovations on Facebook and other platforms. And while social media is going to continue to be important, there’s going to be so much more innovation in the field and we want to be part of that and continue to work with new platforms. Advertiser investments are going to continue to grow in digital resources. And as I’d mentioned, commerce advertising is going to become really big in the coming years while metaverse is also a space we're watching closely. Gaming will play an increasingly important role in advertising, and we’re going to be announcing some exciting new partnerships in that segment. As a company, we'll be going really strong in the commerce advertising space and also with our performance offerings, especially in the mobile space, which we’ll be focusing more on. So, we plan to double down on these offerings, and in India there’s a lot of space and a long runway left to take off from.

Before we conclude, I am curious to know where did the name Media Donuts come from?

Pieter: We started the company 12 years ago in Belgium as a digital media performance company, at a time when there were very few players in that space. Nearly 90 per cent or more was bought on CPM, or even cost per day, or cost per month, when it came to putting a banner on a website. We were one of the first companies to offer clicks, CPC, and the few other companies in the space all had Click or Double Click or @ or something like that in their names, so all the companies got mixed up for each other. So, we decided that when we walk out of a meeting, the client should at least remember our company name. We were brainstorming ideas and my business partner and co-founder sent me an image of Randy’s Donuts, an iconic LA donut brand, which has a huge display donut on top of the store, with the signage being at least three times the size of the shop itself. So, we thought the guy must really like advertising, and plus everyone likes donuts. On a more serious note, we were doing some research and we read about the data donut, which is a system of servers of all the banking and financial services institutions in New York that are positioned around the NYSE so that they are protected from natural disasters but are also very close to the markets so as to verify transactions. And programmatic operates much in the same way as financial institutions do in their own data analytics. It all linked together and we came up with Media Donuts. So, when we first started our company with the name, we sent out 10 donut boxes with six donuts in each to different agencies and we got a call back from nine of them on the same day, thanking us for the donuts and inviting us to drop by, so clearly our donuts worked.

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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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Aditya Birla Capital appoints Dentsu Creative India as lead brand communications agency

The account will be serviced from the agency's Mumbai office

By exchange4media Staff | May 25, 2023 11:21 AM   |   3 min read


Aditya Birla Capital (ABC) has appointed DENTSU CREATIVE India as its Lead Brand Communications Agency. The account will be serviced from the agency's Mumbai office.

As per the mandate, DENTSU CREATIVE India will manage the creative services for ABC - the corporate brand, and five of its subsidiaries. This includes developing and implementing advertising campaigns across various mediums to enhance the brand's communication and messaging.

Darshana Shah, Head of Marketing and Customer Experience, Aditya Birla Capital said, “DENTSU CREATIVE India has been a longstanding partner of ABC, and I am pleased to have them as the brand's retainer agency across our numerous lines of business. This year, we have accomplished some truly exciting projects, with a sharp focus on our health insurance, life insurance, and mutual fund businesses. Collaborating with DENTSU CREATIVE has been an absolute delight, as their dynamic and enthusiastic team shares our vision of propelling the brand forward in the new digital-first consumer era. Together, we aim to leverage the trust associated with our parent brand, Aditya Birla Group, and bring the brand ABC to the masses in India. Our goal is to simplify their financial needs and become trusted a partner throughout their life stages. I am looking forward to the remarkable outcomes that this partnership will yield."

Commenting on the partnership, Indrajeet Mookerjee, President – South & West, DENTSU CREATIVE India added, “We are delighted to be working with Aditya Birla Capital and to have won the mandate as the lead ATL agency. This reflects the trust that we have built over years of collaboration on key projects spanning mutual funds and health and life insurance, including the celebrated 'Dear Money' campaign, which was a defining chapter in Aditya Birla Capital's communication journey. The confidence shown in us is a testament to the modern and creative solutions that DENTSU CREATIVE incorporates across businesses. We are truly honored to be a part of this journey and look forward to achieving many successful business and creative outcomes together."

Aalap Desai, Chief Creative Officer, Creative Experience, West, DENTSU CREATIVE India commented, “We have had a great history of collaboration with Aditya Birla Capital, and it is truly an honor to now officially join forces with them. Working with a fantastic brand team that is in sync with our own team is refreshing, rare, and valuable. It almost feels like we are one team working towards the common goal of creating memorable work that resonates with the audience. Aditya Birla Capital has always been inventive in presenting real solutions to real challenges in the financial services industry, and we at DENTSU CREATIVE take pride in offering the perfect balance of strategy and creativity.”

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Larah Opalware by Borosil launches film to unveil new brand identity

Larah aims to reflect the modern Indian woman with the new brand tagline, ‘My Home My Way’

By exchange4media Staff | May 28, 2023 6:00 PM   |   2 min read


Larah, the opalware brand by Borosil, has undergone a change in brand identity and positioning. The brand aims to target modern Indian women who multitask and strive to excel in every aspect of their lives.

With the theme "My Home, My Way," Larah emphasizes women's choices, efforts to showcase their personality and commitment to making healthy, savvy, and sustainable choices for their homes and loved ones. The brand's new immersive experience includes a new logo featuring a deep aubergine hue, which represents self-assurance and confidence - virtues that embody today's women.

Regarding launching the new identity and campaign, Barnali Shankar, Senior General Manager (Marketing) at Borosil Ltd., said, "We are extremely excited to reposition Brand Larah. We aim to recognize modern Indian women, their values, and their commitment to their homes and loved ones. Our brand values are rooted in confidence, aspiration, and sustainable choices. We are proud to play a part in empowering Indian women and recognizing their dedication."

In addition, the brand has reworked its packaging design to be easily identifiable while on store displays. Customers can easily navigate and get what they want, as the packaging is standardized across ranges but differentiated to cater to various styles. Larah's new brand positioning is all about enjoying moments with its products. The brand offers a wide range of dinnerware and serveware options to suit various occasions, each providing a happy and beautiful reflection of its users' true selves.

The brand will roll out its changes in packaging design, POS, and online digital communication, with a renewed commitment to empowering and recognizing the value of modern Indian women.

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Tata Salt unveils campaign with focus on schoolkids

The campaign is part of the brand’s core theme 'Desh Ki Sehat, Desh Ka Namak’

By exchange4media Staff | May 24, 2023 11:48 AM   |   1 min read


Tata Salt is every Indian mother's ally in raising a strong and sharp nation through her children

Tata Salt has unveiled a campaign titled: ‘Tez Baccho Se Hi Toh Tez Desh Banta Hain’, which aligns with the brand’s core theme of 'Desh Ki Sehat, Desh Ka Namak’.

At the heart of the campaign is an endearing film depicting a caring mother engaged in a conversation with her daughter during mealtime. Expressing her concerns about her daughter's science project, scholarship, computer exam, and school contest, the mother receives a reassuring response from her confident daughter, who also happens to be the school captain, singing, "No problem Mummy, no problem!"

Speaking about the campaign, Deepika Bhan, President, Packaged Foods- India, Tata Consumer Products, said, "Tata Salt is unwavering in its commitment as a guardian of the nation's health. We understand that the right amount of iodine is essential for a child’s mental development and strive to provide this in each and every bag of Tata Salt .. aakhir 'Tez Baccho Se Hi Toh Tez Desh Banta Hain'.."

The ‘Tez Baccho Se Hi Toh Tez Desh Banta Hain’ campaign by Tata Salt is slated to roll out on various media platforms, including television, digital, and social media channels.

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A peek at BBDO’s entries for Cannes Lions

The agency has sent Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad, WhatsApp and Ralco Tyre campaigns for the festival of creativity

By exchange4media Staff | May 24, 2023 11:31 AM   |   7 min read


For this year’s Cannes Lions 2023, BBDO has sent some of its landmark campaigns to the festival of creativity. Let's take a look at the entries.

Silent Separation #ShareTheLoad | Ariel 

In its 8th year of getting men to share the load at home, Ariel, India’s leading detergent brand, decided to dig deeper. While the divorce rate in India is only 1%, 65% of women feel an emotional distance from their spouse. And 81% of women feel that unequal distribution of chores has affected their relationship over time.

To make men aware and act, Ariel launched 'See the signs of silent separation'. We triggered the conversation with a film that introduced a new term called ‘Silent Separation’. 

Silent Separation – The emotional distance that creeps into marriage because of inequality at home.

When a father opens-up about his marriage, his sensitive and empathetic daughter is moved to tears. She tells him that mom has been giving and giving for so long, that maybe she has just given up. This makes the father realize that he ended up taking his wife for granted. He apologizes to his wife and commits to be an equal partner.

 At the end of the film, Ariel urges men to see the signs and share the load. The message got amplified by the immense coverage it received. Over 1100 publications covered the film across 45 countries. 

Taking things a step further, we reached out to a group of untapped influencers – the house help. A hundred house helps came together and unearthed the unspoken signs of silent separation they had witnessed. 

And taking a cue from the film, we organised a mass re-proposal, where married men went down on one knee in front of washing machines and took a vow to be equal partners.

The brand’s commitment to the cause unlocked massive brand preference and consideration, and also had a positive influence on the society. 

1.4 billion earned impressions 

150 million views across platform 

More than 90% of couples agree that doing chores together will improve their relationship. 


See Equal #ShareTheLoad | Ariel

See Equal #ShareTheLoad is the fifth phase of the longest running movement against gender inequality at home. The campaign was celebrated at Cannes 2022 with a Lion and 4 shortlists, and is invited for creative effectiveness this year, as a campaign that has not only unlocked massive brand preference and consideration, but also had a positive influence on the society. 

A World Economic Forum report says gender equality is 135 years away.  Which means no woman alive will see gender parity in her lifetime. 

To accelerate the pace of change, Ariel took a more defiant stand. In a country where women are conditioned to never challenge their husbands, the wife confronts her husband and asks why men like him can share the load with other men but not with their wives, is it because they never saw women as their equal?

See Equal #ShareTheLoad was a bold new tone for the country, and it created instant news. It triggered millions of uncomfortable conversations. 

To further catalyse the movement, Ariel made a confession on the front page of leading dailies, with an open letter, that urged all content creators, media partners and advertisers to help change the imagery. 

Partners joined in. Times of India, country’s biggest media house amended their matrimonial section, where men can now also state their willingness to #ShareTheLoad at home. Disney+Hotstar curated a list of movies and shows that has better representation of women. 

Ariel turned its packs into a silent protest. For the first time, Ariel changed the names on its packs with names of hundreds of Indian men. 


See Equal #ShareTheLoad Long-term | Ariel 

Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad is the longest running movement against gender inequality at home by a brand. We started in 2015, by raising awareness with a pertinent question, ‘Is laundry only a woman’s job?’

In 2016, we uncovered the source of this inequality. The deep-rooted social conditioning. We addressed it with a heart-wrenching apology letter. 

In 2018, we asked ‘are we teaching our sons, what we’ve been teaching our daughters?’ It was discussed at the world economic forum. In 2020, we challenged another hidden cultural issue. 71% of Indian women sleep less than men, due to unequal distribution of household chores. 

In 2022, there was a shift in the tone of the brand’s movement. To accelerate the pace of change, Ariel took a more defiant stand. In the film, the wife confronts her husband and asks why men like him can share the load with other men but not with their wives, is it because they never saw women as their equals? Ariel turned its packs into a silent protest. For the first time, Ariel changed the names on its packs with names of hundreds of Indian men. 

Year after year, we’ve spread the message of share the load, through unique new touchpoints. Wash care labels, matrimonial sites, cultural calendars, comic books, colouring books, OTT platforms and NFT art. 

When we began in 2015, 79% men believed that laundry is a woman’s job. That number is down to 26% today. 


Scam Se Bacho | WhatsApp

In India, digital payment scams are valued at 1.55 billion dollars.

Their biggest victims? Our beloved baby boomers. 

Payments on WhatsApp, decided to step-in and help the older generation by recreating the most iconic Bollywood song from the '70s, turning it into a melodic lesson about digital payment safety.

The song chosen was “Aye Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo” (“Hey brother, stay safe while you walk”), a song from the popular 1970 Bollywood movie ‘Mera Naam Joker’, which is widely popular across all age groups. 

The original song, featuring Raj Kapoor, played a huge role in popularizing the common phrase “Aye bhai”, which is a friendly interjection used across generations.  

The original lyrics were a friendly word of caution, warning people to look before they walk; we rewrote the lyrics, telling people to look again and be mindful of digital payment scams.

The video that picturized the song captured rampant scams currently affecting the target audience.

The music video soon became a tool for the highest authority figures of the country to combat scams. Several state police departments shared the song on their social media accounts as a friendly reminder to stay safe from scams. 

#NoPressureDelivery | Ralco Tyres

Ralco Tyres have been highlighting the capability of their tyres that have gone through numerous ‘Pressure Tests’. At the same time, food and delivery apps have been reducing the delivery time to as low as 10-minutes to beat the competition, adding more pressure on the delivery riders. 

The quick delivery timings forced delivery riders to overspeed and break traffic rules, just to deliver on time. This led to the core thought of our next socially relevant message, ‘Pressure is meant for tyres, not people.’

Ralco Tyres introduced a simple action for the users of these delivery apps to reduce the 10-min delivery pressure on the delivery riders. In the delivery instruction section of the app, we urged the users to add the words, ‘No Pressure Delivery’. This way the riders get to know that they needn’t rush and risk their lives to deliver the order within 10-minutes. 

We chose the ideal influencer to take this idea forward. Someone who has always been the voice of the underrepresented. With Bollywood actor and activist, Sonu Sood, we propelled the #NoPressureDelivery initiative to a wide audience, garnering over 47 million video views. This emboldened tto he mothers of the delivery riders make an impassioned plea for change. All of which nudged the delivery apps platform to review the 10 minute delivery time. 

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‘Kaala teeka’ campaign row: A case of coincidence?

Industry experts weigh in on the latest controversy in the Indian ad world where two leading agencies have sent out strikingly similar campaigns as their Cannes Lions 2023 entries

By Tanzila Shaikh | May 24, 2023 9:08 AM   |   3 min read

Kaala teeka

With Cannes Lions 2023 around the corner, the Indian adland has been rocked by its controversy for the year. Earlier, e4m broke how two agencies Dentsu Creative and VMLY&R have locked horns over their respective Cannes Lions entries this year.

Dentsu’s Mortein - ‘Suraksha ka Kaala Teeka’ campaign and VMLY&R’s Maxx Flash – ‘Arogya Bindu’ campaign are similar in concept and execution. Both advertise mosquito repellent kajal “teekas” that parents often apply on children to ward off evil eyes. In these cases, both products also ward off mosquitos and thereby vector-borne diseases.
The campaigns submitted by the leading agencies are a striking resemblance in concept and execution, which has led to a debate within the industry about whether their entries may be flagged at the international ad fest.

Both agencies have stood their ground, backing their campaigns with seemingly solid arguments. The issue has, in turn, sparked a debate within the industry on the question of ethics and the originality of concepts. e4m reached out to experts to understand their take on the issue.

Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar weighed in on the issue: “If the product does not exist, then the agency should rethink its participation.”

Media entrepreneur Sandeep Goyal highlighted that sometimes ideas can be in a close approximation of each other, especially when the products are so similar. “It doesn’t mean anyone has copied another agency’s idea. Independently convergence of ideas that are similar is possible. It doesn’t impact either India’s chances or image. Coincidences are part of life.”

In a similar vein, Garima Khandelwal, Former CCO at Mullen Lintas, explained why such an issue has come to a pass.

“As I understand the idea has been live at both agencies since 2019 or 2020, getting approvals. So, that’s a pretty long window and too many brand custodians shift jobs.”
She explained that sometimes, an unreleased idea or a thought handled by an agency is pitched by the former employees of that agency handling a competitive brand. “Or maybe, it’s just one of those bizarre coincidences in advertising,” she pointed out.

Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner in Enormous Brands said that both the agencies had thought the other way around which should not be the approach. He said that culturally rooted campaigns make it big at the festivals and that’s what the agencies have done. They first thought about culture and tried to fit in a brand. “And when you have an approach like that naturally you’ll end up having the same ideas,” he explained.

An expert feels that the squabble between the agencies is quite laughable. He quipped: “Anybody who’s ever been within a mile of an advertising agency knows that both these ideas are created purely for awards AKA scam-vertising. To claim the moral high ground saying ‘I thought of it first’ is just plain hilarious.”

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