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Data is only as good as the hand wielding it: Dominic Braganza of Dentsu Webchutney

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Data is only as good as the hand wielding it: Dominic Braganza of Dentsu Webchutney

Dominic Braganza has just come on board the Dentsu Webchutney team with his unique perspective on digital advertising and in particular his trouble-making skills. As Creative Director at the Delhi office of Dentsu Webchutney, Braganza is tasked with designing cross-disciplinary campaigns.

He is probably notoriously well-known in the industry for designing rather provocative recruitment campaign for Foolish, a Delhi-based agency. The campaign which trolled stalwarts of the Indian advertising world went viral on April Fool's Day last year. Braganza and the campaign courted controversy but the campaign won Best Writing on Social at GoaFest.

Brazanga shares his view on the world of digital advertising, the benefits of his trouble-making nature and more…

Has data put the gut feeling of creatives out the window? How do you design creatives when you have to justify or validate your gut feeling?

Humans are instinctive, and over time, if data replaces gut, we will retaliate. It happened in the 60’s with Stanley Pollitt and Stephen King; it’ll happen again. 

Like any weapon, data is only as good as the hand wielding it. At Dentsu Webchutney, we use data to create ads and online experiences that get people to lean forward. Remember, digital is the modern Direct Response. If we’re not using digital to fulfil demand, we’re not doing our jobs. And data goes a long way in helping us Creatives conceive digital campaigns that work harder towards the middle and bottom the marketing funnel.

Justifying a point of view takes more than just gut; it will take persuasion, conviction, and in my humble opinion, data. I’m constantly collecting data to defend my convictions. For example, I have a collection of print ads at home that I cut out from the newspaper, all the way from Airbnb to Zomato, to use against any digital media zealot who tries telling me that print is dead. These are full page print ads for online businesses that put their NEED-creation marketing money in traditional media. We often overlook the massive media spends these businesses make in creating the demand that digital later captures as leads and converts to sales.

Digital is growing at a CAGR more than 30 %, but digital spends seem to have stagnated at 15%...

There is a lot of dark digital media that isn’t being tracked. Example, some OOH is classified as digital, while some is not. Also, how do you account for the massive CRM spends in large organisations, where the mandate isn’t with marketing, but other departments like sales or procurement? Those digital spends aren’t being accounted for. 

Digital is exploding. Just look at what Hotstar is doing: 94 million unique-monthly-users. And Amazon Prime Video: is anybody accounting for the Rs 500 cr they’re setting aside in just content creation? Now whether you choose to think in media terms or not, that is a digital budget. And it’s only getting bigger.

Are marketers spending on digital for the sake of digital? 

If you look closely, digital, when done right, works. The ones that are making it work are guarding their secret closely. (These digital learnings are their competitive advantage.) If you notice, the ones yelling from the rooftops are the ones who still haven’t a clue how digital works.

That said, marketers continue to be concerned about the consistent measurement of digital advertising, especially programmatic...

It’s W Edwards Deming’s old mantra: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. (He was the man behind Total Quality Management.) However, many forget the other old adage by the very same gentleman, who, years later, disenchanted with the way TQM was being used to over-measure and over-analyse, said, “Just because you can measure it doesn’t mean you should.”

One of your most well-known campaigns is the Trouble-makers campaign, it generated controversy and yet was awarded soon after. Can the ad world take a joke on itself?

Yes, we stirred controversy, and I’ve had my share of detractors. But here’s my measure of success; (1) It worked in the market—we launched the agency with a recruitment campaign on April Fools’ Day, and it turned into a viral sensation—we couldn’t stop the resumes from pouring in, even weeks after the campaign; (2) It worked with the jury. They awarded us for Best Writing on Social.

How does being a trouble-maker influence your work?

With questions. Lots of them. I ask them, and I train anyone who works with me to ask them, whether they’re creative, planning, account management, media, you name it… I ask a lot of Hows, Whats, What-ifs, Wheres, even How-Might-Wes. And when you need a little perspective, I recommend trying Peter Senge’s 5 WHYs method. It’s a series of 5 WHYs, by the end of which everyone gets the purpose behind WHY we’re doing WHAT we’re doing. Troublemakers, question.

How is Dentsu Webchutney specialised in delivering campaigns for the digital ecosystem and what sets it apart from other digital agencies? 

Oh, what a great question, and I’m glad you asked that. See, this is why I joined Dentsu Webchutney. They’re savvy with tech, savage with creative. I’ll give you two examples: (1) our innovation lab, which dabbles in IoT and other tech clients that see the sense in merging creative with tech will be way ahead of clients that currently can’t.
And (2) our Social Advocacy wing, which is turning client stakeholders into advocates. With Facebook’s recent switch to promoting people’s posts over brands, this is going to become our key differentiator. Of course, we’re not going to be the only ones touting this, competition is looming from across the landscape, be it ad-tech, ad-land or those on the influencer marketing side. We’re bumping up brands’ Net Promoter Scores by engaging their employees. The bigger the organization, and the more loyal its employees, the greater the impact. This is a great time to be powering forth in Digital.

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