What makes this idea of Ayyappan Raj and Rajesh Ramaswamy tick?
It is not every day that your visit to an agency office throws up a Victoria station wall clock, lots of white space, soothing windows opening to lush green trees, and a Marshall speaker below a giant TV.
Then again, we (afaqs!) weren’t exactly at an agency office but at a Writer’s Room; we were at the Mumbai office of The Script Room. Co-founder Rajesh Ramaswamy (Ramsam) exclaimed over a Zoom video from Bangalore, “… many design rooms came up, everybody found it logical. Planners came up as consultants, everybody found it logical, but everybody wonders how a writer's room exists.”
He goes on to tell us they (co-founders) assumed brands would move onto branded content so “we thought it's time for a concept like a writer's room to thrive because it kind of involves a specialized skill because it's writing for the screen which is different from writing for print or some other format. Keeping that in mind, we thought let's just see this model.”
Founded in 2019, The Script Room in the words of the other co-founder Ayyappan Raj is a place where “writing gets its due, writers their due”. Their innings started with Netflix and today, three years later, they count Paperboat, Coinswitch Kuber, PhonePe, My11 Circle, Great Learning, and OYO as some of their clients.
The Script Room, as per the founders, get clients by winning pitches, by clients approaching them, and through collaboration with other agencies.
Ramsam reveals The Script Room works on a project basis and not a retainer model because it gives them the ability to choose the work they wish to work on.
Raj adds in and says the agency has done a lot of Indian Premier League (IPL) work in the past and that has made a name for the company. Also, some clients approach the agency for its “multiple creative units”; a series of short ads that paint a bigger picture as per the brief. Examples include OYO (below) and Selection Day for Netflix (above).
Raj explained the brief from OYO was to build a national campaign highlighting the various use cases of an OYO hotel that had become ubiquitous.
The Script Room does not just do ad films Raj exclaims and says they’re also moving towards web series and feature film writing. Speaking on the quality of writing in India, considering the many options available today, Ramsam feels “it’s the best time” for writing in India.
He tells us that, unlike earlier years where the only outlet for writers was a Friday movie release (from a podcast featuring Sameer Nair of Applause Entertainment), today “every platform is looking for a Friday release and everybody wants to watch the latest show, and by Monday we binge-watch it. Everybody needs writers.”
Ramsam goes on to reveal that 40 per cent of The Script Room’s work goes into non-advertising efforts but it hasn’t come out yet because “these things take time”.
Speaking of time, all of us were stuck for months inside our homes during the lockdown(s). We wondered how the writers at The Script Room fared while cooped up inside.
Raj tells us that the team had a thousand stories and insights born from life experiences and you'd to connect the dots and ask what is the relevance of this story we experienced personally and place it in context and give it the meaning of a brand or a content. “Coronavirus restricted our ability to execute, it cannot stop us from all the things that'd been there with us.”
There are so many options today for budding writers be it streaming platforms or startups, is that why advertising is losing people? “Partly yes,” says Ramsam but adds that there are pros and cons. He tells us if you’re stuck on a wrong long-format project, “you can’t escape for six months but with advertising, you’re done in two to three weeks”.