We are working on using digital to change the way clients do business: Shamsuddin Jasani

On the 11th anniversary of Isobar, Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD-South Asia, shares highlights from the year gone by and future digital trends to look out for

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Aug 19, 2019 8:37 AM


Isobar Shams Jasani

It’s Isobar’s 11th anniversary and Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD-South Asia, says the organisation is fighting fit for the future. exchange4media spoke to him on the year gone by, the challenges the industry faced in a year that the economy has been dawdling and Isobar’s expansion plans as it creates its future leadership.

Excerpts from the interview:

Highlights of the year gone by:

I think the last one year has been a good one. It's not been a great year. It's been overall a slowdown for the industry. But within that we have managed to do very well. We've managed to keep both our client-winning streak and our award-winning streak, intact. What we've done this year, also from an awards perspective is, concentrated on fewer awards because, there's a difference of Isobar of one year and Isobar of 11 years, when we were a non-entity to now where people know Isobar in a different time.

Also there are four key changes we have made — Anadi Sah is now Executive Creative Director, in addition to his current role. Himanshu Arora, is Associate Vice President, taking charge of our North business. Aakriti Sinha, is National Head, Social Media Practice and Madhura Ranade is Head – Branded Content & Partnerships, Isobar’s new service offering. We really feel that there is a charge for some people who have really shown themselves as great leaders for Isobar. The 11th year of Isobar is an important year also from our size and scale, we've also been able to grow and nurture leaders. This is a year we clearly know where we want to go as Isobar and how we want to grow.

We’ve had some very big wins this year -OPPO One plus is one of the big ones, our other clients are Visa India, CEAT Tyres, Estee Lauder, National Geographic, Fox-Life, V-Guard, Reebok, M&S, Wrangler, Acer etc. and we’ve had very, very few client losses.

That kind of holds us in good stead on all parts of the business. Again, the great thing that we've done is that we've invested a lot in our full service capabilities.

By full service, I mean full service digital media, and creative technology, everything together because of that, we are now adding services. So content is a big play that we have done, it has gained a lot of traction with Madhura as content head. Under Gopa Kumar we've always been the leaders as far as our media division goes and we are strengthening that. There is the creative division which has got a big boost by Anadi Sah. Being a full service agency creative plays a major role in what we do. And finally, I think social has been always a key component and Akriti is now national head for social.

The future of Isobar and the industry:

As we go into the future, one of the biggest services that we're going to add is, Transformation Consulting Practice, where we will be helping and working with clients to really use digital to transform their business and not just as a marketing agency. Right now, we are a digital marketing agency. But the future of digital is not just about marketing and the future of Isobar is not just about marketing.

We are going beyond that, we're working with clients on using digital to really change the way they do business. So, that is underlying a big transition that we ourselves are making as Isobar, and I really am very confident that that is going to be a game.

Another big thing that we want to latch on to, of course, which on a smaller scale is our investment and our take on Voice. We at Isobar feel that Voice is going to be a big game changer. Again, not just marketing, it's going to change the way we consume things, you will be seeing people talking to their phones, gadgets, wearable devices, the Alexas’ in their homes, everything is going to get connected. We want to create a first movers advantage. That's a clear direction as Isobar we want to take in India, to be pioneers as far as anything and everything on Voice is concerned.

The other thing from the industry perspective that is going to be instrumental, and again, Isobar would want to play a role in it, is the whole blurring of what is video-what is TV.

Our media strength lies in understanding consumers and understanding where they are, they are consuming more video on their phones than on the TV sets. And now, the Reliance JIO play that's going to come up, that is going to also change that part of the business.

As you start consuming more and more of that it's all coming through the internet pipe. So I think we're going to have another big play in cross media consumption. One of the issues with the medium is lack of common metric that exists in digital, that's a challenge. At Isobar, we're working very closely, both me personally and Isobar on an industry level to solve those problems of measurement, standard metrics, cost media metrics etc.

Other than that is — innovation part of our business, how you are working with clients to use technologies to innovate for them. So, whether it's Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Voice, AI, these are block chains. These are technologies which clients are increasingly going to start experimenting with.

I think 5G is another big trend that we need to watch out for as we go into the future. And that might be about two years away in 2021. The other is voice vernacular.

On launching Isobar Good:

One thing that we truly believe in, is that we need to do good for the society at large and also help clients start doing good. Not just as a CSR tick box or an award-entry tick box but actually do good. And for that reason, we will also be toying, with the global product called Isobar Good. We've not launched yet, but we are thinking of launching Isobar Good in India.

Parting shot for digital naysayers:

There is no one. 2012 was this inflection point where people used to say digital is small, 2016 was when things changed a lot because again, Jio revolution and now just the sheer size of digital that is there. I don't think there are any digital naysayers.  The bigger problem is just the whole benchmarking and measurability is preventing more spends happening on digital. The other thing that needs to happen is the traditional creative agencies need to get more digital. The main mainline agencies, the media agencies are already there.



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