<b>Simon Dixon</b> Founder & Director, DixonBaxi, <b>Aporva Baxi</b> Founder & Director, DixonBaxi
<p align=justify>Our entire business is based on collaboration. So, we have a slightly different model than a lot of European design businesses. According to me, the activity and the effect on businesses and clients would be much more powerful working with somebody who is actually local, well-established, and has a successful business. So, the collaboration route will be much better than opening a very small office with a few people. We are also motivated to bring Indian creativity culture back to our studios. So, I don’t see it as a one-way interaction, but a genuine collaboration.
Our entire business is based on collaboration. So, we have a slightly different model than a lot of European design businesses. According to me, the activity and the effect on businesses and clients would be much more powerful working with somebody who is actually local, well-established, and has a successful business. So, the collaboration route will be much better than opening a very small office with a few people. We are also motivated to bring Indian creativity culture back to our studios. So, I don’t see it as a one-way interaction, but a genuine collaboration.
Iconic, maverick and focused are the three words that best describe DixonBaxi, a London-based multimedia creative and strategic company renowned for its edgy and contemporary communication solutions. Founded in 2001 by the immensely talented and award-winning Creative Director duo of Simon Dixon and Aporva Baxi, DixonBaxi was created with the aim of giving birth to a company that has clear strategic thinking and broad, eclectic creative executions.
The company brings in newer perspectives and a broader experience of working in the UK, Europe and the US with some of the most interesting brands such as Motorola, Viacom, Vh1, MTV and Intel to name a few.
In a freewheeling conversation with exchange4media’s Tasneem Limbdiwala, Dixon and Baxi share their plans for India and about their latest trip to the country. Q. Please explain some of the strategic initiatives that you wish to focus on in the Indian market? Anything specific that you could refer to?
Baxi: We can’t comment specifically. However, we both work in a holistic way. So, we are thinking about brands at a conceptual level and whichever areas they fit into, whether TV or online, it doesn’t really matter. It should come out as a strong brand and later we can dig into specific aspects. Thus, our interest is in just seeing where the collaboration is. And the biggest thing really is that we have Preeti (Vyas, Chairwoman and Chief Creative Officer, Vyas Giannetti Creative) and the team here for us as cultural custodians. We come with a very UK-European perspective, hence we are really interested in the journey of fitting in the two cultures.
Q. So, is it the same attitude of work that you intend to bring to India as well?
Baxi: Yes, it’s the same attitude that we shall bring to India as well.
Dixon: Whenever possible, we create a project that is new and fresh. It is very important, because if you do fresh work, it inspires the company. So, the sense of attitude, the excitement and the pushing of envelop is a motivation to stimulate the audience. But it’s always making sure that it is the magic that the audience expects. For example, the project Five USA is based on entertainment, so what we produce should be entertaining, but if we were with a financial company, it should feel more solid and considerate. However, at the same time, it should be intellectually challenging and stimulating. So, whenever we do something different, it is based on the business strategy.
Q. For how long would you be in India?
Baxi: We are here for four more days. And in those days, we are squeezing in as many appointments and meetings as we can.
Dixon: For us this is all business, and the opportunity to learn and look at what the potential is. We’ve had some fantastic conversations in the last few months about what we can do as collaboration. The response so far has been very positive. So, what we plan to do in the next four days is meeting as many people/ clients as we can and look at the potential. When we return to the UK, we can think this through and the next time we come over, we can bring back stronger ideas and proposals.
Q. What is the potential that you observe for design here in Indian market?
Dixon: It is more of opportunities. There is definitely some sophistication. For Europe and Britain, branding and design markets are very well established and have been through a lot of different phases. They have learnt how to comfortably talk to a broad range of people across a broad range of brands globally. However, in India we find that though the market may not be as matured and sophisticated as Europe, culturally, historically and creatively the country is full of grey ideas. We think there are tremendous opportunities to enhance knowledge in specific areas from our experience. Hence, creatively it is an entirely new place to explore the ideas and develop them. So, that’s the opportunity for us, and that’s where I think it makes sense working with two teams with similar mindsets rather than a global design team just moving around with studios. Hence, the sense of localisation with specialist skills from us is very powerful.
Q. The agency has recently worked on the rebranding of Five USA. Could you brief us on the work and what has been the thought process for the same?
Baxi: That was a larger project. There is a channel in the UK called ‘Five’, which is one of the five terrestrial channels. We were brought on board in July last year to rebrand the network. It was quiet an interesting model, wherein we came up with the concept of articulating the facets of ‘five’. So, we carried the positioning and brief around that.
Five USA has launched with a set of nine idents, which travel from city to city, capturing the energy and passion of exclusive locations and characters. The new on-air look reflects the channel’s strong American programming with a bold and vibrant series of idents produced and directed in New York, LA, Miami and Las Vegas. The new look also forms the basis of the off-air launch content.
Q. Is this your first trip to India? How has it been so far?
Baxi: My parents have been in India, hence I have been here a number of times.
Dixon: This is my second visit here. I have been to Goa before. We have given lectures there. So, that has been my first experience in India. And now I am looking forward to it even more on this visit. The moment is all about potential. We have some interesting meetings fixed up to talk about the new collaborations and explain it to potential clients. We have been talking about all the learnings and experience that we can bring to India from the European markets. So, we are very keen to experience those collaborations.
Q. Do you have plans for independent operations in India or you plan to operate in association with VGC?
Baxi: Our entire business is based on collaboration. So, we have a slightly different model than a lot of European design businesses. According to me, the activity and the effect on businesses and clients would be much more powerful working with somebody who is actually local, well-established, and has a successful business. So, the collaboration route will be much better than opening a very small office with a few people.
Dixon: We are also motivated to bring Indian creativity culture back to our studios. So, I don’t see it as a one-way interaction, but a genuine collaboration. Therefore, initially it makes sense for us to come to India and have some interesting conversations, which are already underway. But in the longer term, we see it as just another way of a genuine connection.
Q. Despite the global slowdown, what is the opportunity that you seek from this collaboration?
Baxi: The larger agencies have a big structure, as in they have 100 or so people, and work on an account work, which is quiet generic in a way. But with this collaboration, we can formulate the variety of strategies for a specific job, and I think that’s where we will get the ROIs, because the ideas would be more specific, focussed and powerful. I feel, the recession is a cloud that kind of hangs and creates a white noise for everyone. What we need to do is not necessarily ignore it, but just embrace the situation at that time.
Dixon: You may want to speak particularly about the Indian market, but what we find is that in a recession companies usually tighten their pursestrings and don’t spend much. However, there still are companies that spend money on communication, and we would like to work with people who have the foresight to continue to communicate to their audience. I also think it’s a matter of diversification if you working in Europe, Britain, America and Asia. This way there is less chance of you becoming over-saturated in one particular market. Thus, if the market in Britain is not conducive at the moment, it does not mean that the same holds true for, say Italy or India. In fact, India is still growing as compared to the British economy.
We have always felt that one should spend money on great productivity as much as possible, and if you do that, you will get better returns. It is not about how much the design business makes, but how much effect we have on other businesses.
Some 6-7 years ago, UK had a downturn. It was then that the British design industry started to fragment and soon went for collaborative teams. What it means is that you start to use a specialist for the thing that one is very good at and you end up getting very strong minds and creativity in combination. You bring them to the table as you need them and it has been very successful in the UK. The work is very strong and has proved to be successful for the businesses and has been successful when taken elsewhere as well. Thus, it makes sense globally too, where one needs local knowledge and somebody who has years of experience in that region.
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