Shreyas Kulkarni

Former JWT creative duo launch creative agency of their own name i.e. Steve Priya

Priya Pardiwalla and Steve Mathias say they shortlisted the agency’s name to two but decided to go with neither.

Priya Pardiwalla and Steve Mathias, former executive creative directors at Wunderman Thompson (now VML), have started a creative and content agency called Steve Priya with their first office in Mumbai.

“While we had about 4-5 names, we shortlisted it down to 2. And in the end, we went with neither. From our own experience and after talking to many of our clients, we realised that everyone struggles with the name of the agency, especially the newer ones, but what clients do remember are the people. It’s not just a brand name. We’re putting our neck and reputation on the line,” says Steve and Priya.

The agency is dedicated to fostering creativity and innovation across every level, aiming to achieve several key objectives. Firstly, it strives for craft communication that not only promotes brands but also captivates audiences, building engagement akin to the content we eagerly consume.

Additionally, it endeavours to create compelling and original screenplays for both feature films and series, aiming to inspire and entertain viewers with unpredictable narratives. The agency is committed to nurturing its employees' growth, emphasizing a culture where talent flourishes unrestricted by hierarchy or seniority.

“For us, the starting point for creating any advertising is that ‘No one. Absolutely no one is interested in watching an ad’. That’s probably why people hit that skip button with a vengeance. We’re looking for clients and brands who are seeking solid brand-building work through a fresh and unexpected route.

It prioritises building relationships with clients based on trust and transparency, enabling a collaborative partnership. The agency’s ethos is encapsulated in the term "Creative Adventures," reflecting the belief that brand-building is a dynamic journey filled with exciting possibilities and unexplored territories.

"Not tried, tested and retested. There’s no point in discovering a place that's already crowded. Commercials especially have become formulaic. The only guys who are benefitting from them are YouTube, Spotify and others who charge you to make it ad-free!," the duo continue.

They are one of the last few creative teams who have been partners for over 20 years.

With a showcase of over 230 commercials, Steve and Priya have created memorable campaigns including the IPL ad Jumping Japang with Farah Khan, someone who never followed cricket, but choreographed steps that made the entire nation dance.

They cast an old couple for Goodknight at a time when the category norm was using kids. They used Marathi Rap for their Goldilocks campaign three years before Gully Boy hit the screens. They launched the new Škoda philosophy in India with a woman wedding planner as the protagonist. They got two ancient warriors fighting with Lollipops instead of ‘gadaas’ for Jolly Rancher’s recent Two Much Lollipop and more.

The duo have already signed on some accounts and will be announcing the wins shortly.

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