Aishwarya Ramesh

Dentsu Webchutney takes a seat at the client’s table – appoints itself as AOR; releases 16 branded minisodes

The unusual ‘news’ of the appointment was a build up to the launch of a series of minisodes on life at the agency.

A blog post on Medium claims that the pitch process 'took years'. Dentsu Webchutney has just announced that it has appointed itself as its agency on record (AOR). On the post, the question on how much should agencies brand themselves outside of their work or their clients was debated.

"To challenge this problem, Dentsu Webchutney launched an RFP (Request For Proposal) in early 2019, with a clear brief to tell its story – and not unlike most pitches, close to two years later, the results are finally out," reads the post. Spoiler alert: Dentsu Webchutney is the AOR for Dentsu Webchutney.

The blog and social media posts were a teaser for a hiring campaign. Webchutney has released a series of minisodes that attempt to showcase a glimpse of life at an agency. The episodes are between 10 seconds and 5 minutes long and show different phases of working at an agency and its nuances - and is an exercise in hiring too.

Over a telephonic conversation, PG Aditiya, NCD at Dentsu Webchutney, mentions that all the footage was shot in July 2019, pre-COVID pandemic. They had a host of raw material and were wondering what to do with it.

PG Aditiya
PG Aditiya

“This is the kind of story that comes together at the edit table. We had so much footage and each minisode came together so organically. There are so many interesting characters at work and this is our interpretation of ‘we should make a show out of that’. Vasisht Vasan, the director, went full throttle on it and this is the end product.”

Essentially, this campaign is meant to be a candid behind the scenes look at how the agency functions. We (afaqs!) wondered how someone from a non-agency background would interpret these movies. But Aditiya points out that these days, people who are coming into advertising are from different backgrounds.

“We can’t just assume that only a certain kind of people will be interested in advertising-related content. A lot of people also told us they saw similarities between this content and the show ‘The Office’. When we showed it to people who aren’t in advertising, they were still able to relate to the dynamic that we share with our colleagues.”

Aditiya adds that he wanted it to be a starting point for anyone looking to get into advertising. The call to action in each of these films is clear at the end – to visit the ‘Careers’ page of the Dentsu Webchutney website in order to be a part of the team.

When asked how brands may react when they see this film, Aditiya opines that brands are likelier to respect the work of another brand team. “Some of our best agency-client relationships are from clients who understand that they are also working with another brand, in that sense. In some way, this is to go one step further in that direction to make it more visible,”

According to Aditiya, the idea of the minisodes was to introduce the agency in an unconventional way. He credits Juhi Sharma, the director of photography (DOP), for making everyone feel comfortable in front of the camera, even if they were more accustomed to working behind the scenes.

“Vasisht also knew who he wanted to speak to for these minisodes. In the last minisode, there are three people and the colleague taking their picture. That was actually right after we won at Cannes Lions for our ‘Voice of Hunger’ campaign. He had a way of bringing emotions to life on the screen.”

Aditiya says that advertising has come a long way, and that they weren’t coming up with these ideas in a closed room, away from the public gaze. “It was also about having fun with the idea. Every minisode ends with a tagline, which is whatever a person has said in that film. The idea of converting something being said into a tagline was a fun one.”

We asked Aditiya to sum up the minisodes in one line, answering the much-debated question ‘What is the joke?’. He says that when it comes to humour in advertising, most of it tends to be cynical. It comes with the assumption that the admen and women are facing tons of difficulties in their jobs, are frustrated and that this is a coping mechanism.

“But there are some of us who are not cynics, and want to say stuff about our job and industry, which is hilarious. We wanted to break the assumption that there was only one kind of humour about advertising. Those of us who love our jobs and the industry we work in will find 10,000 things to laugh about,” he signs off.

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