Nisha Qureshi

It’s time for advertising agencies to be bolder: Pravin Shah of BigBrandTheory

Pravin Shah, Founder of BigBrandTheory explains the need for specialised agencies, agency culture and the need to undo age-old business practices. 

There have been various conversations about the work culture at advertising agencies, the lack of work-life balance and the stress the creative industry brings with itself. However, many new-age entrepreneurs in this business feel that the problems within the industry can be easily solved if agencies reconsider their business practices.

One such personality is Pravin Shah, founder of BigBrandTheory, who has undone a number of unwritten agency business rules at his agency. 

He says that in lieu of getting business, agencies say yes to unnecessary pitches and time engagements which often drains a lot of energy out of agency employees and also affects morale.

“It’s time for advertising agencies to be bolder. The industry really needs to reassess where they stand today and the way the business operates.”

Shah goes on to explain that BigBrandTheory has never pitched for any business wins in the agency’s five years of existence. Further, he asserts that the industry needs to get away from the concept of ‘hourly billing’.

“The creative business is not a manpower business. Our pricing has to be about the value that we create and not about the hours that we put into the business. We have a very successful model at BBT. Our clients pay on the value that we create.”

Speaking about the thought process behind BigBrandsTheory, Shah states that around five years ago, it dawned upon him that specialisation will be the need of the hour in the advertising world.

“BBT was formed with a very single-minded vision and that was to create high-value partnerships with clients who want to stay relevant and respond to this ever-evolving consumer, which kind of adapts to the new media. Essentially, BBT wants to be positioned as clients' vision partners.”

Commenting on the growing need for specialised agencies he says, “ If we have a certain complex health problem, we would go to a focused specialist, not an OPD. Similarly, advertising and branding are very complex subjects. The moment you dilute your energies with multiple areas of focus, you will not deliver and do justice to anything.” 

Shah further explains that BigBrandTheory believes in taking up project-based work rather than traditional mandates. The agency creates brand identities and strategies for brands that are looking at creating long-term values. He says that BBT functions as a creator and not an operator. “Clients come to us with their specific needs, we create the assets for them and then they take the assets to their local vendors to execute them,” he explains.

Shah adds that despite the business model being project-specific, BBT has had long-term partnerships with most brands it has worked for. He says many of its clients whose ad budgets were negligible before, have grown exponentially. “Their budgets have grown, and we have grown with them, Our clients love the way we function,” states Shah. 

On the evolution of branding

Shah speaks about how technology has impacted brands as a concept and says there used to be a time when the brands were not dynamic at all. “In the past 10 to 15 years, we've seen this rigid and non-flexible model, which doesn't allow brands to be agile, to be flexible and respond to the changing media.”

“Brands have become living entities which have to adapt and evolve to the way consumers are changing.”

According to him, a lot of ‘branding’ principles have evolved over the years and one such important aspect is ‘tagline’. Shah states that there is no concept of a tagline anymore. “We at BBT call it ‘brand energiser’. Taglines are done and dusted but you need an energiser to which people can respond every time and that can keep changing. We keep it flexible. We bring an infusion of colour, energy, etc. but the core kind of stays the same,” he explains.

According to Shah, authenticity, sustainability, and clear messaging are pivotal in crafting brand strategies that stand out in this constantly evolving landscape. He says the digital landscape provides a constant stream of content, empowering consumers to make informed choices across various aspects of their lives, from health and productivity to lifestyle decisions. Influencers then amplify these choices by sharing their experiences, preferences, and endorsements, creating an environment where trends can gain traction almost instantly. In such a landscape it’s important for brands to add a personalised touch to their communications backed by data.

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