The creative mandate for one of the hottest young brands, OYO, has been won by an agency which is not yet five years old. Meet the founders of Animal.
It all started with a regular press release about Animal, an ad agency, winning OYO's creative mandate. We put out what we call an 'account win story' and moved on. What caught our attention the very next day was the unexpected amount of interest our readers were showing in the story (unlike other account win stories). It could be the agency, the brand or the fact that that the two were now working together that drew so many eyeballs. So, in a data-led decision, we chose to explore and profile the agency in a bid to give our readers more of what they were showing interest in.
We got in touch with Kunel Gaur, the co-founder/creative director of Animal to know more about the agency and the tricks it was going to try for its new client.
'Animal' is a team of 30 diverse professionals, working out of a quirky office in Delhi, who are geared up towards moving brands. Gaur co-founded the agency in March of 2014 with his old-time mate Sharon Borgoyary, a creative hand whom he met while working at JWT in 2009. Both Gaur and Borgoyary worked on multiple projects together as freelancers.
"Our thought processes were matched in terms of conceptualisation and creativity. It was only natural for us to extend the same and start out on our own," is how Borgoyary puts it.
Gaur started out as a graphic designer at DDB Mudra. Later, he moved to web designing for global brands and eventually made his foray into advertising. He has worked on brands like Times of India, Nokia and PepsiCo among others and has had stints at JWT, Saatchi & Saatchi and Wieden+Kennedy.
With around nine years in the advertising industry, Borgoyary is now account director with Animal. She has worked with JWT, Leo Burnett India, Cheil Worldwide and on brands like Samsung, Adidas, Times of India, Keventers, and Future Group.
To a question regarding the origins of the agency, Gaur explains that Animal was created to get away from the "cumbersome," "single-minded focus" and rigid setup of "traditional" agencies. "While working at traditional agencies, we also worked with external talent on projects and the process was kind of slow. A project that should have been wrapped up in 15-20 days would take months. We now have better focus and a richer outcome," he says.
"Animal boasts of a non-traditional agency model. We've kept off hierarchies. The team consists of people from different areas of work who collaborate on most projects. There's a lot of information and talent exchange that takes place," Borgoyary chimes in.
In Gaur's terms, the name 'Animal' comes from their 'intuitive' nature. He explains, "It's our wild nature and the freedom to move about freely, in any direction."
"I liked doing everything end-to-end which, normally, in a traditional agency, isn't possible. I loved the fact that on a given day I could be taking briefs, conceptualising an idea, designing an installation, planning a film, and executing a social media campaign, all at the same time," says Borgoyary.
The agency launched operations in the US in 2017. While the Delhi office takes care of most of the advertising roles - digital, mainline, social media marketing, and strategy, the agency's counterpart in New York deals with design and animation. The team is a mixed bag of copywriters, animators, filmmakers, coders, developers, planners, and account managers. Its US operations work mostly with freelancers who work on a project-to-project basis.
Gaur points out that the agency's strength lies in the 'content' it creates. He also shares a differentiation between 'content' and 'advertisements'. "An ad is extremely tactical in nature and is ultimately aimed at selling. But content is about not asking the consumer to buy more," he states.
The agency bagged OYO's creative mandate following a multi-agency pitch earlier this month.
"OYO was also a startup and so the team understands the involvement of the integral part (top management) of agencies. In a case like ours, the agency founders are directly involved," says Gaur.
He goes on to explain that in bigger agencies, once the account is won, it moves down to the junior teams. "OYO has faced this in the past. And sometimes big agencies even get teams down from other parts of the world for a pitch," he adds.
Animal will now handle the entire OYO portfolio in India along with the brand's upcoming expansions in Nepal and other global markets. "We will concentrate on communicating the brand and its position along with communicating the individual offerings of OYO's verticals like OYO Townhouse or OYO Homes. The brand wants the communication to be broken down individually. Our role starts with strategy and ends with distribution in various channels," Gaur outlines.
Currently, most of OYO's communication happens on social and CRM (customer relationship management). "While there might be some communication on mainstream mediums, the heavy-lifting is done by social and digital marketing," says Gaur and adds that the plan for the next one-and-half year is set around OYO's global expansion. "That's where the focus is at the moment. Until now, the brand's focus has been getting users on board," he states.
As per the information available on business information website Crunchbase, OYO has raised over $1 billion in recent investments. Media reports suggest that the brand is on a global expansion spree and is 'eyeing Indonesia, the UK and European markets'. The last fundraise valued the company at $5 billion. Reportedly, the bulk of the spend will be towards expansion in India and China.
Present: OYO, Times Internet, Dineout, Adidas Originals, UNICEF, OnePlus, Budweiser
Past: Google, Keventers, Andaz Delhi, Reebok, Snapdeal, DLF, Godrej, Housing, NDTV, Lakme
The agency is also coming up with its own 'digital product' - an "...app that has to do with the creative space with a focus on travel," is all we could pry out of Gaur. The app is scheduled for release in late January 2019.