‘Coronavirus crisis has given us time to pause, breathe & think on strategy’
Hyper Connect Asia, co-founders, Ankur Pujari and Kiran Khadke speak to exchange4media on their journey so far and surviving in times of the Coronavirus
From first bagging Delhi Police’s social media account to handling big brands like Tata Sky Broadband, Club Mahindra, D2C brands for Marico, Kotak Mutual Fund and many more, Hyper Connect Asia has come a long way since its debut in 2018. It founders Ankur Pujari and Kiran Khadke like to define Hyper Connect as a strategy-led agency for the digital age. With offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Singapore, the agency specialises in offering brands an array of services in the field of business consulting, brand strategy, digital and social marketing, data analytics, D2C brand stewardship etc. The duo speaks to exchange4media about what pushed them to launch their own business, they also share how agencies can best manoeuvre through the COVID-19 crisis.
Before launching Hyper Connect, explains Pujari, a solid exposure, in their individual capacities, at various big agencies is what helped them successfully kick-start their entrepreneurial journey, “So, what differentiates us is that we bring in that entrepreneurial approach, and also strategy, creative and data analytics to solve some of the brand's challenges, or realizing their brand ambitions," he adds.
Close to 3 and a half years ago, the two felt there was a vacuum that an agency they conceived of could fill and they jumped to it. “We felt that the media landscape was changing and we saw a sweet spot in terms of an agency that can bring in strategic thinking for the digital age because a lot of digital agencies that grew were predominantly media-driven or on social media and on the other side were large ATL agencies that sort of get the brand and the entire strategy sacred to themselves,” says Pujari.
Their first big breakthrough came in the form of managing Delhi Police’s social media, which to their delight, went on into reverse integration. “I mean, usually, digital agencies don't get to work on ATL pieces, but then because of some of the interesting campaigns which we brought onto their social platforms, they also asked us to create radios ads.” Says Pujari. Hyper Connect then successfully went onto to creating more campaigns for Delhi Police and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, the agency has bagged work from Club Mahindra, Tata Sky Broadband, Kotak Mutual Fund’s Mr SIP campaign, which was a large ATL-led campaign along with extensive digital work.
Kiran Khadke shares that they are now working on a really broad spectrum of clients. He explains, “We are also working with Marico to build their first D2C brand in the male grooming space. This is first effort Marico is making to get into that space and we are helping them build the brand.” Pujari adds, “Rather, it is the first effort by any organized FMCG player to come up and build a direct to consumer brand from the ground up. And again, the sort of expertise that we bring in is how do we get strategy at the core and this is all led by hard-core data analytics, how data drives decisions and how content is driving commerce for Marico.”
Explaining what differentiates them from the rest, Khadke says “When we started off, we wanted to have the right mix of brand strategy, business understanding with an entrepreneurial approach and applied to the new medium. It is evident in our work from the past two to three years”
While the Coronavirus crisis has played havoc with big agencies, mid-sized companies like Hyper Connect too are feeling the pinch. Says Pujari, “The impact is definitely there. Suddenly brands have become cautious or there is a pause button at the moment in their spends because everybody wants to wait and watch.”
However, on a positive note, he adds, “I think this has given us time to sort of pause, breathe and think on strategy. Again, being a strategy-lead agency, I think it helps us because, with all these brands, we are actually thinking on the lines of: 'Once normalcy returns, there is definitely going to be a spike in terms of consumption.' So how do we plan? How do we sort of align the brand? How do we align the performance bit? How do we align the media bit? We are working on a couple of very interesting briefs with Marico, and Kotak Mutual Funds, so once things start opening up, I think, we should be in a position to accelerate from there.”
Given the nature of the digital medium, should brands then consider moving to it under the present circumstances? “Certain categories were already moving fast towards digital. This will have another reassurance that yes, we need to move faster towards digital,” believes Pujari.
Echoing a similar sentiment Khadke says that digital offers you a lot of flexibility unlike its traditional counterparts, “I think digital will be far more agile and far more effective in these times. Not only for the reasons of cost, according to me, is digital no more an affordable medium. Today, nothing is organic on digital. Look at any platform. It does not work unless you put the media behind it. I do think it is a more effective and more flexible medium in these times.”
As far as recovery for the sector is concerned they believe it could take some time for businesses to limp back, “I think in an optimistic scenario it should pick up in the second quarter. Shares Pujari.
Khadke adds, “I would actually break this down into two aspects. First is the media part. How much will people put into media? And the other is strategic thinking and creation of work. Even if this gets over say in a month from now, we all know that the consequences are for at least six months for everything to realign. So what is going to happen is that people will not immediately start spending on media or do campaigns but there is going to be a lot of thinking, lot of strategic work, lot of execution that will happen to prepare the brands for the next one year.”
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