Staying relevant and performing consistently key to my success: Sahil Shah
Shah, EVP, Operations & Media, WATConsult, shares his experiences and learnings as he completes 10 years at WATConsult
In an era where ad experts are shifting from one agency to another, Sahil Shah, VP, Media and Operations West, WATConsult, has been able to thrive in one place. Today he commemorates his 10-year anniversary at the digital marketing agency WATConsult. His first-ever campaign was for Sony Music India in 2009, and he has created many impactful campaigns in the social media space since then. We at exchachange4media spoke to Shah on completing this milestone journey.
His entry into the advertising industry and the first campaign he worked on
I moved to Mumbai in 2006 for further studies and while completing my graduation, I fell in love with the world of advertising and marketing. I was very strong-headed about moving into advertising as a career in spite of having a well-established family business to look after. Although I knew what I wanted to do; how I wanted to do was still a question. After multiple failures at figuring out the 'how' I stumbled upon a magazine with its cover shouting out loud- 'Social Media for Brands is the Next Big Thing'. The next thing I did was to find top social media agencies in Mumbai on Google. I applied to all and got a call only from WATConsult, met Rajiv for a 50-sec interview and got hired. Rest is history.
The same magazine that left me a trail to join WATConsult, honoured me with the prestigious ‘Impact 30 Under 30’ title in 2018, and today with you guys again, I am doing this interview. Very uncanny!
The first campaigns that I had worked on was for Sony Music India. It was for the launch of Shakira’s latest album, ‘Shewolf’ in 2009. We came up with an ambush-ish marketing strategy where we took over famous monuments in India; superimposed Shewolf’s paw marks on them and leaked these images online to tease people into a Shewolf coming to India. It was very early days of social media and online PR, but the campaign did earn us a lot of appreciation from the client, industry and general people alike.
On completing a milestone of 10 years with WATConsult. His views on ad agency people moving from one agency to another rather than sticking to one.
As I reflect, I think the key to achieving such a milestone was by staying relevant and performing consistently.
People have asked me as to why I stayed with one single agency for so long. And my answer to it is that I didn’t. WATConsult over the last 10 years has transformed; from being a 5 people start-up trying to make a name for itself to scaling into an excited team of 25 odd people to being a mid-size social media agency turning a lot of heads and now one of the leading creative digital agencies in India, a lot has changed. So yes, I did change agencies, had unique experiences in different timeframes of my career, but by being in one agency.
On the digital campaigns, he has worked on
There have been a lot of campaigns across different teams that I have been involved in. A few select ones are close to my heart as they are new, next and never been done before. Right from building a dynamic content platform which made students fall in love with a boring subject like chemistry, to executing the first calendar app-based notification campaign that drove tune-ins for a sports channel. From getting sales on Amazon by leveraging an insight of phonetically influenced keywords and a neuroscience-based study that takes the planning of digital creatives to the next level.
How the agency helped him grow and his involvement in the growth of WATConsult
The opportunities for growth have been immense and to that effect, I have always considered myself an entrepreneur inside the agency. For instance, I joined WATConsult as a social media executive back in the day and currently I lead a significant part of the organisation as a EVP of Operations & Media for its PAN India business.
What I bring to the table is a balance of creative plus business mindset and I guess that’s worked for me to address a client’s need for scaling their business as well as winning accolades by doing it in the most creative way possible. While doing so, I’ve gained a lot of invaluable experience, which I only would have dreamt of in my early days. All in all, WATConsult has given me a platform where opportunities of scaling were immense from day one and I hope to have played a part in where the agency is today.
Learnings from a decade of experience at WATConsult
A lot of what I’ve learnt is thanks to all the people I have worked with or currently do. Fellow WATizens, clients, folks at DAN and the entire advertising fraternity: Everything I am today, I owe it to you all.
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