Arshita Bharadwaj

Goafest 2014: "YouTube pre-rolls are the most irritating thing on the web": Preethi Mariappan, ECD, Razorfish Germany

Preethi Mariappan is the executive creative director of Razorfish Germany. After a career in digital and product design across India, Singapore and Dubai, Razorfish Germany appointed her as ECD in January, 2014. Mariappan's last role was that of digital ECD, TBWA/Germany, leading its Digital Arts Network by bringing together storytelling, people and products. We caught up with her at Goafest 2014 to understand if the digital world in Europe and Asia are any different. Edited excerpts:

Edited Excerpts

What, according to you, is the biggest 'digital challenge' in Europe as opposed to Asia?

Asia is in a hurry; speed to market is terrific. Sustainability and long-term thinking often gets lost in the bargain, though. Europe on the other hand brings great focus on building for the long-term, but a slower pace sometimes means a lost opportunity. The challenge for marketers and digital in general is: how to stay agile, drive innovation and still manage to create sustainability.

What is the biggest disappointment in the digital space?

The speed at which the industry is moving forward. Even today, lots of work and thinking is channel-specific and silo-ed.

Digital-led services are still being 'pioneered' and transformational ideas are few and far between. Oh yes! I almost forgot - YouTube pre-rolls are probably the most irritating thing on the web.

What's the best way to gauge the quality of content?

With common sense. Ask the questions - will I come back for more? Is this really making any difference at all? Did I laugh, cry or learn something useful? Do I want to share it? Do other people want to talk about it?

I look at content from my own human perspective first, before I approach it from a professional point of view. What does it do for the brand? Does it drive a new point of view or solve a problem? Great content always elicits a response, and drives action.

Who should be responsible for creating all the great content that is needed?

All of us are going to be in the content business in some shape or form, because content just diversified. Red Bull, for instance, created its own genre of brand journalism. Publications like the New York Times are exploring new content forms. There are plenty of YouTube stars creating their own content. Or look at a company like NetFlix that is changing not only content delivery but also how content is being produced and consumed.

I'd say: Who creates great content will vary by market, category and specialisation.

How much do awards motivate you?

Award shows are important to help me understand where the industry has set the bar. And then, it is about constantly pushing day-to-day work to be at that level and beyond.

At the end of the day, we all want acknowledgement for great work that makes a difference to business, brands and consumers.

Which appeals more: A great team on a small young brand or a regular team on a large established brand?

I would go with a great team, period. A small young brand has an equal number of challenges as an established one... they are just different.

Any work in India that you have liked?

The Farmers' Suicide Campaign is compelling.

An Indian brand you would like to work on?

ITDC or any Indian airline brand. Brands in the travel category really need digital transformation at so many levels, and with India's diversity this would be quite scary and exciting to work on.

With inputs by Ashwini Gangal.

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