“If you’re not talking the language of ‘Digital’, you’re out of the business”

Today, brands & youth are talking a different language. If you don’t understand their requirements & understand what their needs are, then you are out of the race, says Anilkumar Sathiraju, AVP & Head - South, DDB Mudra Max

e4m by Deepa Balasubramanian
Updated: Aug 2, 2014 12:12 PM
“If you’re not talking the language of ‘Digital’, you’re out of the business”

Anilkumar Sathiraju, Associate Vice-President & Head- South, DDB Mudra Max, has completed 15 years with the agency. In conversation with exchange4media, Sathiraju speaks about his journey so far, why he maintains a low profile, Digital being a must-have for clients and agencies and more...

You have been with DDB Mudra Max for 15 years, how has your journey been so far? What is that one thing that keeps you here for such a long time?
Mudra is like a family to me. The journey has been fantastic for the last 15 years. Each day I tell myself it’s a new day and it’s a new learning and that’s how I have survived here for 15 years. One thing that keeps me going is my team. Had it not for my team, I wouldn’t have stayed for so long. The team has been consistently excellent.

What are the major changes that you have observed within your organisation?
A lot of changes have happened. Structural changes, takeovers, bosses have changed, people have come and gone and even rejoined. Now, we are bigger than ever as a Group.

You have always kept a low profile. Why is it so?
I don’t believe in tom-toming about myself. The work should speak for itself. I’ve always been humble and will continue to be so. That’s my nature and I can’t change.

What is the one skill that will become an absolute must-have in the next five years in the ad industry?
If you are not talking the language of today, viz. ‘Digital’, you are clearly out of the business – this is the most important. And this should happen now, not wait for five years. I am seeing people struggling in today’s world, which has moved far away from what it was earlier in terms of the dynamics. Be it the way media is looked at or whatever you can call it, brands are talking a different language. The youth of today are talking a different language. If you don’t understand their requirements and understand what their needs are, then you are out of the race.

It is not easy to quit a comfortable and secure job for something you want to explore – do you agree with this statement? What is your advice to your colleagues who are thinking about taking a risk, but are hesitant?
I agree with your statement. The day your mind says, ‘oh no, I have to go to office today’ – that’s the day you should call it quits. If people go behind money and fame, they are mistaken because I strongly believe that money and fame will come running behind you once you prove your worth. That’s my advice, there’s no rocket science to it. There have been instances when some of my ex-colleagues have come and told me that they want to leave because they are getting more money in some other agency. I have told them to move on. My peers used to always say, ‘Anil, money will follow you, don’t go behind it, let it come behind you’.

After pursuing your degree in Loyola College, Chennai, what catalysed you to move to Bangalore? Do you think Chennai has lost its share of interest?
I completed my degree from Guru Nanak College and did my PG from LIBA (Loyola Institute of Business Administration). My boss at that time, Subbu, saw my potential and took me to Bangalore. Chennai has not lost anything, it’s just that nowadays lots of big clients are moving out of Chennai and also the fact that good talent is also moving away from there.

You are on the committee of Ad Club, Bangalore. What have you planned to take Big Bang to the next level? What is that one initiative, according to you, that has to be taken?
Discussions are on with all the members. Some decisions should come soon. But yes, we are trying to make it big. You need to wait and watch what’s in the pipeline.

What are your future plans? Any plans to move on from DDB Mudramax in the near future?
My aim is to take DDB Mudramax to the top, along with the team.

Under your leadership some of the major brands have got their share of interest. Please share one of your most memorable experiences that you have had with your client.
I don’t believe in saying that because of me, a client has come in. It’s a team effort always. Together, we have won many new businesses and that’s our biggest strength. Each and every client of ours is a delight to work with. They understand us, we understand them, their business and work together. It is not just having a client-agency relationship, but a partnership. That’s what we are.

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