afaqs!

Vistasp Hodiwala and Vikram Gaikwad start 'Underdog Communications'

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 03, 2014
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The self-financed agency will initially work with a lean team and engage in a collaborative model of working.

Underdog

Vikram Gaikwad

Vistasp Hodiwala

Industry veterans Vikram Gaikwad, former partner and executive creative director of Creativeland Asia, and Vistasp Hodiwala, vice-president and senior creative director of JWT Mumbai, have come together to start a new venture. Named 'Underdog Communications', it is this year's first independent agency announcement.

The full service agency's belief reflects in its name, say its founders. It is also the reason why the duo has stuck to the name as the logo, with no symbolic depiction. "We are not saying that we are the reservoir of brilliant ideas and solutions. In fact, assuming that would be a form of admitting superiority, which is the opposite of who an underdog is," says Hodiwala, adding that Underdog envisions a fearless exchange of ideas, intelligence, infectiousness and expertise.

Considering there are so many independent agencies that have come up in the last few years, how does Underdog distinguish itself? Hodiwala says that the agency is not here to compete with others. "We believe there is space for everyone. We get the sense of reality and that's why we are the 'underdog'," he says, adding that original, slightly different way of thinking and staying with a brand's journey marks an agency out as a long runner.

Underdog is self-financed and its office is located in Mulund, Mumbai. As a matter of fact, the duo has consciously not approached any financier as they wanted to be in-charge of the outfit. As a result, the agency, for now, will have a lean team and grow organically. Meanwhile, it is also looking at a collaborative model of working, where it will associate with like-minded people for additional services.

Interestingly, this is the first time the two are working together. After having met through mutual friends and meeting at Cannes festival and Goafest, the duo began discussing about starting something together about six months ago.

For Hodiwala, who spent seven years in JWT, this is the first entrepreneurial venture, while Gaikwad combined forces with Sajan Raj Kurup to set up Creativeland Asia. According to the duo, their venture is a "leap of trust" and "confidence".

Hodiwala has close to 20 years of experience and has worked with McCann Erickson, Publicis India and St Luke's Communication (now called L&K Saatchi & Saatchi). He was instrumental in working on TOI's Lead India and Teach India campaigns.

Gaikwad, on the other hand, has close to 24 years of experience; he has worked with Grey Worldwide, Lowe Lintas, Enterprise Nexus, SSC&B Lintas and Leo Burnett, and handled brands such as Johnson & Johnson, HLL, Cadbury, Mahindra & Mahindra, Vikram Cement (part of Birla Cement), Mercedes Benz, Bombay Dyeing, Parle Agro, Deutsche Bank, Kinetic and Ambuja Cement.

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