One of India's most popular stand-up comedy groups, All India Bakchod, aka AIB, has ventured into the advertising space with its new wing called Vigyapanti - a play on the Hindi word for advertising, Vigyapan. The new outfit will work with start-ups, which have received funding or are looking for it, aiming to turn them into massive brands.
Tanmay Bhat, one AIB's members, tells us that they chose to work with start-ups because they are exciting to work with and more likely to take risks. "They are young, open to new ideas and understand the internet better," he says.
Interestingly, AIB has earlier worked with brands such as Quikr, Urban Ladder, Snapdeal, Red Bull and Ola to create edgy content. Unlike established internet companies, will AIB's persona overshadow the brand campaigns it will create for budding start-ups under Vigyapanti? Bhat doesn't think so.
"AIB would be the one which will bring these start-ups into the spotlight. We have a name and that's the reason brands come to us. There is immense pressure on us to match our own standards when we do brand campaigns. There is a direct metric of views and consumer engagement. In a conventional set-up, a consumer would never know which agency has worked on a campaign," he states.
Currently, Vigyapanti is being supervised by the core team of AIB which comprises Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya and Rohan Joshi. The team has six young creative minds and the agency is scouting for copywriters.
"We realised that a lot of creative people got intimidated with the work we do and associated us with comedy. We decided to announce the agency along with a brand campaign, so that people take us seriously. Vigyapanti is a legit place to work for copywriters as they will get to work on brands," he explains.
The agency has no senior advertising resource at the helm. Bhat believes that digital is a "different ball game," and it is better to groom someone from the system than to hire a senior resource with traditional advertising experience. The business model for the agency is simple: work at zero creative cost and charge start-ups only for the production cost. However, the team is open to getting equity in the start-up.
As we wait to see how Vigyapanti find its feet in the advertising space, here are some initial reactions from the fraternity.
Kartik Iyer, CEO and co-founder, Happy Creative Services
It is a smart move by AIB. They have a huge following and any brand would want to leverage their popularity to reach out to the audience, which they would otherwise target through newspapers or TV channels. That said, they stand for a certain type of content. Brands have their own vagaries and expectations, which AIB will have to meet. They must have a perspective in order to succeed.
It could also be that a lot of work that the traditional agencies are doing is quite clichéd and hence brands are approaching AIB to break the monotony. With Vigyapanti, they will also have the opportunity to exercise greater control on the work they do. A lot will depend on how they run and manage the business.
Raghav Verma, co-founder, Chaayos
AIB can never be our primary agency. However, if they relate to our TG, we are open to exploring such an opportunity. As start-ups, we are at a stage where we want to generate more awareness and visibility for our brand; but that does not mean we would associate with an AIB just for the heck of it.
We expect our agency partners to deliver content that is relevant to our customers, and also ensure that the brand message is delivered effectively. Although Chaayos and AIB share a common TG of youngsters, generic content, even if it offers reach, does not meet our objectives. It needs to be customised.
Amit Akali, managing partner and creative head, What's Your Problem
That's a really cool thing to happen, and I am not all surprised by AIB's move. This is the future of advertising; it is not about a print ad or a TVC, but about creating content and experiences for the right audience. In fact, today, even advertising agencies have to work closely with content creators. So, AIB entering the space reinforces the importance of content, which is also the reason for our existence.
AIB is known for a certain kind of work which is very niche. When we work on a campaign, we first think of what the brand requires and not what we would like to do. The challenge for them will be to understand what the brand needs and bring more versatility to their work. That said, some of the guys from AIB are experienced advertising professionals, and we can look forward to some good work.
Arunabh Kumar, founder and CEO, The Viral Fever
It is a bold move and another step in the evolution of the advertising industry. Agencies which are not evolving with the times should feel threatened. The first video from their agency is out and we are yet to gauge the response, but in the agency space it is definitely a brave move. This reminds me of Taproot which also did unconventional work a few years back and got noticed. The niche boutique agency model has been there for a long time. Like any creative outfit, AIB also has a certain kind of ethos and brands who want to align themselves with that will associate with it.
AIB has consciously chosen to work in a space (start-up) where there is creative freedom. Their sensibility goes well with the nimble companies or start-ups which are not bogged down by years of brand management. Big MNCs like Unilever and Airtel would not like to risk. AIB are one of the most successful comedians in the country; they do not need an agency business to survive. They are doing it for the love of it.