Joseph D'Souza and Aniruddha Biswas read between the lines

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : May 05, 2009
D'Souza and Biswas have started their own agency, Mezzanine, with two clients in their kitty

Aniruddha Biswas and Joseph D'Souza have come together to start up the newest creative shop on the ad block. The agency is called Mezzanine because the office is located on the mezzanine floor. Well, that's not the only reason!

Biswas, who in his last assignment was associate vice-president and senior creative director, RMG Connect, was on a short sabbatical. He eventually set up his own agency called AB and Company and started working on Mercury Travels and a few projects for ICICI Asset Management. Within six months of operations D'Souza came on-board in April 2009 and the entity was renamed as Mezzanine.

Prior to this, D'Souza has been a creative director with Bates 141. Biswas, who is the writer and D'Souza, who is an art guy, are equal partners in the agency.

Currently, the agency will continue to work with two of it's previous brands - Mercury Travels and ICICI Asset Management. A couple of brands are also in the pipeline.

Starting off with a team of six, the duo intends to discover the real truth between the lines. Biswas explains, "For any brand, there are some obvious lessons and some not so obvious. And the not so obvious ones are the real truth, which is what Mezzanine will uncover."

The duo met at Grey but hadn't worked together until their stint together in JWT. The thought of having his own agency had been in D'Souza's mind for a long time, but it was only a few months ago that everything fell into place. "Freedom comes along with your own agency," he says with a smile.

Keeping the set up small is what the two have in mind. They find the big agency set up quite dogmatic. The present economic conditions makes it a better time, they say, to start a new venture. Brands have been squeezing budgets and moving away from television to other consumer touch points in order to communicate to their consumers, which is where the importance of a smaller agency is seen in bright light.

We ask them, what would they like Mezzanine to stand for? "A place where a brand has our undivided attention and maximum value for its money," they say in unison.

Biswas adds, "We will not be working with every client that comes our way but with a certain set that we'd be comfortable working with." He goes on to say that Mezzanine's forte includes writing long copy ads and more print work, and they will work to address that forte.

The agency isn't very keen on having a strong client servicing department, though a few people have been taken on. The two of them would prefer that there isn't a gap between the client and its agency, which is why they're going to keep little or no layers.

The creative hotshop has plans to divert into digital advertising as well in a couple of months.

Both Biswas and D' Souza have nearly fourteen years of experience in the industry. Biswas started his career in Contract and then moved to Trikaya (now Grey Worldwide). He then moved to Ambience (now Publicis Ambience) before moving back to Grey. He also had a brief stint with Mudra and Alok Nanda Communications before moving to JWT (RMG Connect).

D'Souza started his career with Leo Burnett as a visualiser. He then moved on to Grey Worldwide (then Trikaya Grey). Four years later, he joined JWT and has been there ever since. While at JWT, D'Souza looked after Smirnoff, Club HP (Turbojet and Power), Philips India and Baskin Robbins.

Only recently, five other creative agencies have been started by ad people. These are TapRoot India (Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi); Black Swan Life (Sukumar Menon); Cut the Crap (Jagdish Acharya); 22 feet (Brijesh Jacob) and Metal (Narayan Kumar and Ambarish Ray).

First Published : May 05, 2009

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