Ananya Pathak
Advertising

What the Indian ad industry looks like to the co-founders of a creative startup launched in 2020...

Tamanna Virmani and Ashwini Sharma, both with over two decades of experience in the ad world, recently launched 'Blue Oktopus’. Here's what they have to say...

“Brands have a thing for big agencies. They want to associate with bigger names. However, they tend to overlook that once the pitch is done, very small teams and juniors work on the project,” states Tamanna Virmani, co-founder of a newly launched advertising agency ‘Blue Oktopus’. With over 20 years of industry experience, Virmani has, in the past, been associated with Grey, FCB Ulka, RK Swamy BBDO, Cheil, and Rediffusion Y&R. Her last stint was with ADK Fortune, a group company of JWT, as a senior creative director.

Tamanna Virmani
Tamanna Virmani

She co-founded Blue Oktopus with Ashwini Sharma about a month ago. The Delhi-based agency stands for ‘mad advertising’. Sharma, who has in the past worked with Mudra, Publicis, Rediffusion, Leo Burnett, JWT and ADK Fortune, says the main idea behind the new venture was to move away from large agency structures, and own (your) successes or failures.

Ashwini Sharma
Ashwini Sharma

Over a telephonic conversation with afaqs!, Sharma says, “Having spent 20 years on the agency front, we now wanted to take risks of our own. In a large agency, too many approvals are required for everything. You do not always own (your) successes or failures.”

He tells us that the agency will focus on partnering with startups and smaller brands, and would be more flexible than the bigger names in the industry. “We, at the moment, have 3-4 clients, some of who are our former clients who we’ve carried along,” Sharma confirms. The biggest challenge in putting together the startup, he says, was to get comfortable with uncertainties. “If you’re starting a venture of your own, you have your own doubts. Also, you have to get comfortable with not getting a regular income at the beginning.”

“Wanted to move away from large agency structures.”
Ashwini Sharma

Virmani adds, “For us, one of the other big challenges is ‘number versus a good idea’. Brands are inclined towards bigger agencies. However, we feel, one person with an idea working on a project is better than a number of people working on the same project with no idea. Number does nothing to the quality of work.”

“One person working on a project is better than a number of people working on it with no idea.”
Tamanna Virmani

Speaking of Indian ad agencies, Virmani says, “Instead of clients, we have vendors today. The industry has become very transactional. It has become more about the number of posts than how to build a brand. In India, it has become a money game. It should be a partnership, instead of a client-vendor relationship.”

“The industry has become very transactional. Pitches have become a money game.”
Tamanna Virmani

Sharma opines that the big agencies should change at a faster pace. “I talk to my agency friends. They're hoping that these difficult times will be over soon, and then they will be able to go for pitches with big teams, like before. However, they should accept these times and be okay with pitching over Skype. They should be more open to changes.”

For now, both Virmani and Sharma are using word of mouth and digital to communicate about their agency. They plan to move on to PR agencies and other mediums once things get a little better.