Ubaid Zargar
Influencer Marketing

Vision of the company is to create India’s largest pop culture marketplace: Vijay Subramaniam

The Collective Artists Network’s founder speaks about the growing potency of influencer marketing against the old ways of advertising.

Talent management companies have played a crucial role in the Indian entertainment industry for several decades now. From providing essential services to popular celebrities, these companies are now roping in influencers for career guidance, contract negotiations and marketing collaborations. 

The everblooming reign of social media has edged influencers into opportunities that were previously wielded only by A-list celebrities. Naturally, talent management companies have been quick in embracing the shift.

Vijay Subramaniam’s Collective Artists Network (CAN), a leading talent management company, has been in the industry for more than two decades now. The company manages top celebs in the country, including Hrithik Roshan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kriti Sanon, among others.  

The backdrop

Previously operating as KWAN, the company and its leadership team decided to evolve and create a new entity in 2021, called the Collective Artists Network. The underlying philosophy for the reinvention, as per Subramaniam, was to power the influencer and tech side of the business.

Subramaniam, group CEO and founder, CAN, says, “Our vision then was much larger than just being a monochromatic talent management company. Seven new co-founders were onboarded into the company.”

While Subramaniam aims to build a sustainable business, he also makes it clear that the artists will always be at the core. 

“I’ve personally always felt the lack of an institutional player in the category. To be a sustainable business, we needed a plain culture, where talent is at the core. With this in mind, we wanted to power the creator economy.” 

“The overarching vision of the company is to create India’s largest pop culture marketplace. Like any marketplace, our sellers are our creators, and the buyers are advertisers and content platforms.”

The ascension of influencers

With decades of experience in the industry, Subramaniam has seen the evolution and growth of influencer marketing. Accommodating the popular social media mavens, CAN also represents influencers such as Bhuvan Bam, Neha Kakkar, Priyanka Kochhar and roughly 90 others. 

It’s the best time to be in the influencer business. Moving forward, influencer marketing will form a large chunk of the advertising pie.

Subramaniam claims to have acquired more than 20% of the Indian influencer market through CAN’s creator marketplace ‘Big Bang Social’. He believes that the way advertisers collaborate with creators, has shifted dramatically. 

“I think today, the association between advertisers and creators, has changed. With new laws in place, gone are the old ways of advertising. Today, a 30-second ad is outdated, and it can’t be the linchpin of a campaign. This is essentially why old advertising stalwarts and media companies, have all pivoted towards newer forms of consumer engagement.”

Speaking on the company’s flagship creator marketplace, Subramaniam reveals, “Big Bang Social is the largest creator marketplace in the country. Through the platform, we provide optimised search, data, analytics and campaigning to various brands.” 

Depending on the campaign, the advertisers can manually choose the number of creators to amplify it. 

CAN's creative extension

While talent management companies often confine themselves to serving artists and building associations with brands, Subramaniam reveals that CAN has acquired a couple of advertising agencies to help the brands creatively. This, according to him, helps ease out the process of brand-artist collaboration. 

“The plan is to provide creative solutions to the brands. We’ve acquired a couple of advertising agencies, which means, except for media buying, we can now help brands with campaign inception, execution, production and tie-up with creators.”

Subramaniam is also optimistic about the future of influencer marketing. “It’s the best time to be in the influencer business. Moving forward, influencer marketing will form a large chunk of the advertising pie.” 

Traditional media buying, according to him, will conceivably take a hit, due to performance marketing getting expensive. “The whole point is to become cost-efficient in marketing plans. Influencer marketing provides superior authenticity, which is crucial to a good campaign.”

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