Innovative ideas need not be the domain of a creative team alone, and Contract Advertising seems to understand that well. In the second edition of an internal initiative titled 'Let's Make A Difference', the agency called for ideas from its entire workforce across India.
The first edition of the programme, last year, invited media-neutral ideas to provide novel, cost-effective solutions, at a time when marketers kept their budgets tight in a recession-stricken year. This time, however, the focus was on digital.
"The idea came when we walked into recession. We wanted to see how we could come up with powerful ideas with small money. This time, however, we feel the time is right to escalate with digital. With increased mobile penetration and the internet, you cannot possibly come up with integrated communication if you ignore digital," says Ravi Deshpande, chairman and chief creative officer, Contract Advertising.
"While everybody is talking digital, we wanted to walk the talk and come with differentiated ideas to engage the consumer. And it is refreshing to see the team with everybody wearing different hats," adds Raj Nair, regional creative director, Mumbai and South, Contract Advertising.
Over 300 entries were received over the last three months. After two rounds of internal judging, 41 of these were shortlisted. The agency's clients were then invited to judge the shortlisted entries.
Vinay Bhatia, customer care associate and vice-president, marketing and loyalty, Shopper's Stop; Subrata Dutta, managing director, Samsonite; and Rajesh Iyer, head, marketing, personal financial services, HSBC, judged the entries along with Deshpande.
Of the 41 entries, nine were awarded on Friday, June 04. The awards included one Grand Prix, one each of gold, silver and bronze, and five merits. Moreover, practical and workable entries would also be considered for usage by clients.
Umesh Shrikhande, chief executive officer, Contract Advertising sees the whole exercise to generate a wonderful feeling of partnership between clients and the agency, and thinks it is a win-win situation for both.
Clients, too, are no less enthused. Dutta is all for the initiative and says he was pleasantly surprised to see the number of "implementable and usable" ideas. "Exercises like these allow us, as clients, to build a lot more confidence in our chosen creative partner. An agency that spends so much time and energy to generate better ideas makes us have more faith in it," he adds.
The initiative has also proved to be an eye-opener for the judges, as they admit that clients know little about the digital medium and are more comfortable with the traditional media mix. The exercise provided an opportunity to explore further possibilities in innovative communication.
Bhatia says that the session served two objectives - knowing the limitless possibilities of the medium, and realising that brands need to bet big on digital. "Marketers need to be braver than before. With Shopper's Stop and its target audience, I must be nuts not to participate in digital," he exclaims.