Sohini Sen

'What's Your Problem' asks Amit Akali; launches new agency

The former NCD of Grey has launched a full-service digital agency called What's Your Problem (WYP), along with brother Praful, MTV's Huzefa Roowala and Wizcraft's Hammad Khan.

After much speculation about his next move, Amit Akali, former national creative director, Grey India, along with his brother Praful Akali and founder members Huzefa Roowala and Hammad Khan, has launched WYP - What's Your Problem.

Before you think of it as being a cheeky name for an agency, here's the team's explanation for it - WYP Brand Solutions is a full-service digital agency which provides 'creative brand solutions for a digital world'.

'What's Your Problem' asks Amit Akali; launches new agency
"Sometimes, digital agencies get the technology part fantastically well. But, somewhere they lose out on understanding brands, understanding strategies and therefore understanding consumers. They then lose out on the level of creativity that you see in a mainline agency. On the other hand, all mainline agencies have heavily invested in their digital arms. But, I don't know how integrated they really are. An idea can really come from anywhere. So, you need someone who gets strategy and brands, creative at a very high level and definitely, technology. That was our reason for existence," explains Amit Akali, co-founder, WYP Brand Solutions.

Akali hopes to be involved in creation solutions and not just communication. He explains that out of all the work he’s been involved in (as part of a larger team), those are the pieces he’s been most excited about. For example, in the case of Hutch Rangashankara the solution came from a series of ground activations, or for Bingo the solution was a distinctive, crazy tone of voice, for Killer Green Fold the solution was a design idea."

'What's Your Problem' asks Amit Akali; launches new agency
WYP has started off in a 3000-square-feet office space at Santacruz, Mumbai, and a 60 member team with leading in-house capabilities in strategy, social media, SEO, SEM, digital media planning, analytics, YouTube marketing, web-development, art and design, UI/ UX, copy and content, video production and animation.

Akali will be the managing partner and creative head of the agency, while his brother Praful will be managing partner and strategy head. Completing the team are Huzefa Roowala (Hozi) who joins in as director, content and creative; Hammad Khan, director, servicing and technology; Ajay Takalkar, director, art and design, and Hensila Kava as social media lead.

"We did not think about starting an agency or even sister agencies together. But, we realised that I am doing this, and he wants to start an agency, so why not start together? But a lot of trust also helps. Because I know if there is some creative execution, Amit will work on it and I can head out for, say, a meeting. He can do the same with me. That sort of understanding comes in handy here, and that probably comes because we are brothers," says Praful Akali.

Incidentally, Praful Akali is also the founder of specialist healthcare agency Medulla Communications, which he founded seven years ago. The 50 + members of Medulla, along with the 10 new hands in WYP, will work together on campaigns and strategies, so as to give brands one single agency - which marries strategy, creative and technology.

Meanwhile Huzefa, who is ex- MTV ACD ON-AIR Promos and Founder member of Ping Networks, has joined as director - content and creative. He feels that, "YouTube is very much underutilized at the moment and more and more brands will move from still to motion when it comes to communication. You need an effective strategy beyond just shooting a digital video. I think there is a need gap, a massive hollow in the market. It is too many things and too many agencies around, and no one knows what is happening. Brands are losing sync, because different agencies are working on their communication on different platforms."

"There is a major gap between what brands are trying to do and what agencies are making it to be. Having multiple agencies' egos come into play and the whole communication cycle is so long that the message is lost. For us, a brand is at the core and then digital is a concentric circle around it. Looking at all of this, we are saying that here is our brand solutions driven approach to a digital world. We are not necessarily doing online marketing, but we are doing marketing online," explains Khan, who, formerly, was the online marketing head at Wizcraft International.

'What's Your Problem' asks Amit Akali; launches new agency
WYP has already got several clients on board - both national and international. While Flipkart's latest TVCs can already be seen on air (which the agency has created along with Chapter Five), its other clients include Nilgai Foods, makers of Pico Bhut Jolokia, Indigo Radio and Indigo Live. International brand Brinc, which invests in technological ideas in the wearable space, is also its client. For the latter, the agency with strategy, positioning, brand identity, logo and website design.

"One of our team members is a biker and test rider; Hammad has been an under-19 state-level cricketer and heads a film club; Huzefa runs his own cultural artistic festival - 'Black Out', which is soon going to be showcased at the Basil Museum in Switzerland; Hensila is a certified belly dance instructor; Amit used to write his own food columns for Bangalore Mirror; while Praful has authored India's largest-selling book on diabetes. We're building a team of people who are multi-faceted and have interests other than work. We believe that, when it comes to content creation, it's these diverse skill sets which will add an edge to our work," adds Amit Akali.

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