Suraj Ramnath

Why is McCann's ex- South planning head going MAAD?

We profiled Aditya Jaishankar and Sunder Raman, founders of Make Awesome Ads.

Recently, when we heard that McCann Worldgroup India's ex-south planning head, Aditya Jaishankar (43), joined Make Awesome Ads (MAAD) as co-founder, we decided to speak to him and the founder, Sunder Raman (41) to understand what's MAAD all about.

Sunder and Aditya say that MAAD is not a creative or digital agency. "We are the largest user-generated/co-creation platform", says Sunder.

Why is McCann's ex- South planning head going MAAD?

MAAD, which is based out of Bengaluru, was launched on September 28, 2017. It is an app that gives anybody and everybody with a creative mindset, the opportunity to come to the platform and submit their scripts for a registration fee for Rs 150 per quarter, users can submit up to three ad scripts in total (Rs 50 each). And what do they get in return? Well, when MAAD takes these scripts to a client and gets an approval, the writer gets rewarded anywhere between Rs 5000-7000, depending on the size of the project, once the ad is made. It is not only the scriptwriter but a production house, cinematographer and actor who can also register for the same amount.

Why is McCann's ex- South planning head going MAAD?

Screenshot of MAAD's registration page
Click on the image to enlarge

Interestingly, the man who founded MAAD has got no advertising experience behind him. So, how did Sunder think about entering advertising?

Sunder says, "If you see the website, there is a dog which is a Shih Tzu and that's what we have at home. His name is Ozzie. My wife and I like to do voiceovers, so I become Ozzie's voice and my wife asks things like 'why don't you want to eat chicken?' And I would reply in Ozzie's voice that the chicken is horrible and do such funny things quite often. One day, during this session, my wife turned around and said, 'You know what, you should be doing ads for a dog-oriented product'. That's when it hit me; there are a lot of creative people out there in this world. Why is advertising restricted to a digital media agency or a creative agency? The Size of the agency is fine, but why isn't it democratised? And that's when I said I see something over here. So, when we started, we decided to let the consumer start creating ads for brands. We thus launched with an app and left it to the consumers. The first client was ITC. We did an ad for Yippee Noodles during the noodle crisis. So, we wanted the people to know that Yippee is absolutely cool and safe and got consumers on board and shot the film."

Why is McCann's ex- South planning head going MAAD?

Sunder Raman

Post ITC, MAAD worked with Coca-Cola for its Sprite campaign. "Back then, we didn't even have a pricing model. Only after the Coca-Cola campaign happened, Aditya came in", says Sunder.

Prior to MAAD, Sunder was working with a company named GoKrazee after his 22 years of corporate industry experience. But Sunder wasn't satisfied; he felt he wasn't helping the brand grow. He adds, "It was coming up to nothing and that's where my wife gave me the idea and it struck me that there are opportunities here. Then I did my research and it struck that there is nothing like this and there is no competitor to compare to. This is a unique business model. We can't be compared to a creative or digital agency. After Aditya came in, we decided to get everyone onto one platform; like a production house, social media professionals, scriptwriters, cinematographers, and directors and let them drive your campaign."

Why is McCann's ex- South planning head going MAAD?

Aditya Jaishankar

Talking about him coming on-board as co-founder of MAAD, Aditya, says, "One fine day I got a call from Sunder and he started the conversation with, 'I have an interesting model...' and asked why he and I couldn't just create something like it. So I got into this. He was randomly looking for people on LinkedIn, from the advertising circle and came across my profile and called me. Then we had a long chat and I thought about it and I found that this was superb. Before coming to Mumbai, I was working with McCann Bengaluru for three years and back then one of my friends was with Argee Urban Bloom. He gave me this project and I thought we could use this model for it. Sunder and I met after some of these projects were created. We were in touch through mails. The moment we did this project we realised what the possibilities are."

Currently, MAAD has clients such as SoPro, Taste for Life, India Today Group, Coca-Cola Sprite, Nestlé, and Storytell among others.

Sunder clearly says, "We are not fighting with the digital media agencies. We are neither a digital nor an advertising agency."

Talking about the ads that MAAD makes, Aditya says, "We believe in real stories being created for a brand. While we have scriptwriters on board, a lot of them are actual consumers of the brand who are creating the ads. For example, in one of our Sprite videos, we have got a girl to speak about the role Sprite can play in her life, which is about the first day of college where people are confused about what they should wear and the way they should portray themselves. So, that moment of truth was amplified by a consumer through a video. It came across as authentic. The TVC for Sprite is about 'no gyaan', but this one is the story of the dilemma of what to wear on the first day of college, which is very real."

Talking about what kind of ROI MAAD gets for the client, Sunder says, "We came to a point where the real ROI would be conversation on that video. The client would want to see the actual engagement. Are people having conversations about that video; whether it is bad or good, doesn't matter, but we want those conversations and with micro influencers, we could do that because when they are sharing it, they say that they have watched it and it is their opinion and ask people what they think. And then the person comments on that video and we have the data to show the client that 'X number of persons like your videos and Y number of persons didn't'. But the conversation has happened."

He adds, "Conversation based engagement is data for the client. Then we do post-campaign analysis and tell the client what worked and what didn't and what has to change. We also put our neck on the line by telling the client if we cannot get them the conversions as promised they don't pay us our 20 per cent fee."

Talking about MAAD's goal, Aditya says, "The goal is to push the envelope on co-creation and it happens with consumers. We still have a benchmark on quality. We want the ideal blend of authenticity of stories and yet the quality of that story should have high-end impact. We want to be the most trusted source when it comes to the voice of the consumers. We want to become the No 1 authentic consumer platform for brands."

Sunder tells afaqs! that MAAD is planning to raise the next round of investment and it will be profitable by the end of 2018.

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