Anirban Roy Choudhury

"The vision is to be what Mudra was to Reliance": Aditya Bhat, Head, Jio Studios

Jio Studios is the creative communications arm of Reliance. A look at how it was born.

What is this, Jio Studios? Has the richest family in Asia, Ambanis (Mukesh) launched a platform to compete with the likes of 'Amazon Studios' or 'Walt Disney'? The answer is no, at least for now...

"The vision is to be what Mudra was to Reliance": Aditya Bhat, Head, Jio Studios

'Jio Studios' is the transitioned avatar of Aditya Bhat's 'Business of Ideas'. Bhat has been in the media and entertainment industry for the last 15 years; he started 'Business of Ideas' in 2009, which merged with Reliance Jio in 2015 to become 'Jio Studios'. Bhat's marketing and creative consulting firm 'Business of Ideas' specialised in marketing films, creating intellectual properties for television channels and print publications and consulting brands and CSR communications.

"The vision is to be what Mudra was to Reliance": Aditya Bhat, Head, Jio Studios

Aditya Bhat

Reliance was once Bhat's client and that's when the relationship spawned between the two entities. Today, Jio Studios is responsible for Reliance Jio's creative communications. "The vision is to be what Mudra was to Reliance," says Bhat. Atchyutani Gopala Krishnamurthy (A G Krishnamurthy) started 'Mudra' as an offshoot of Reliance Industries' advertising wing in 1980. Soon after launching, Krishnamurthy realised that to attract top creative talent Mudra needed to function like any other mainstream advertising agency and hence, he started pitching for accounts outside of the Reliance group. 'Vimal' was Mudra's first client and 'Only Vimal' was the agency's first campaign. From there on the agency won many mandates and emerged as a formidable force in the advertising ecosystem. In 1990, DDB Worldwide collaborated with Mudra and in 2011 Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group sold the majority stake to 'Omnicom' (DDB's parent organisation).

Bhat's ambitions with Jio Studios does not end there, he also has his eyes set on long-form content. "As a team, we have the workforce that can create long-form content, so when Jio eventually launches its originals, we would also like to pitch in with a list of web-series ideas," says Bhat.

Before merging with Reliance, Bhat's 'Business of Ideas' had 22 employees operating from an office in Sion (a neighbourhood in Mumbai). Now, the workforce has grown 'five times' and the setup has shifted to a Reliance establishment in Bandra Kurla Complex. "We have an independent studio, we are equipped with the best equipment, we have skilled ourselves in the best possible manner to create Augmented and Virtual Reality content and that is what the merger enabled us with. We still have our creative freedom, we can still go and make ads for other brands and at the same time, we work on Jio campaigns," says Bhat.

Talking about Jio Campaigns, Bhat's Jio Studios has just launched Jio Football, which features seven feature film actors and 29 Footballers. Jio Football is a follow up of last year's 'Jio DhanDhanaDhan' campaign, which was the Studios' first major campaign for the teleco.

Bhat started planning Jio Football in mid-December 2017 and then shot throughout the rest of the month into parts of January 2018. Cameras chased the superstars from Mumbai to Madurai and Kolkata to Kerala, "Getting their availability was a big challenge, so we decided to shoot wherever they were. Virat was getting married and we actually shot him on the night of his reception, because he was off to South Africa the next day. We had to fill in many gaps with visual effects; overall, it was a big challenge to put all the content into 60 seconds," Bhat asserts.

But according to Bhat 'Jio DhanDhanaDhan' was far more challenging than Jio Football, "Back then, from planning to execution and post-production was all done in six days. Many agencies released numerous reports after IPL 2017 and all of them slated Jio as the most recalled brand. GroupM ranked us number one over the title sponsors too, so the campaign worked very well. Jio Football is like a re-launch of Jio DhanDhanaDhan, we have about one and a half months of ISL left, so we will see what happens, but it will be unfair to compare the two."

From ideating to production and post-production, Jio Studios executes the entire creative proceedings in-house. Apart from the two star-studded campaigns, the advertising arm has also created the 'iPhone 8 on Jio' film. Though Jio Studios is the creative communication arm of Reliance, it has to pitch to win campaigns. "Whenever a campaign is announced we plan and pitch alongside other mainstream creative agencies; nothing comes to us on a platter," informs Bhat.

Apart from Jio campaigns, Bhat's team created several digital media videos which raked in a great number of views: #MaukeKePankh featuring Sonakshi Sinha for Star Plus, 'No Smoking' #11minutes featuring Sunny Leone and #Don'tLetHerGo featuring Kangana Ranaut and Amitabh Bachchan are a few of them. "We did these projects after the merger and this is what we want to continue doing. We want to create content for other brands/ purposes. Yes, we are backed by one the most illustrious establishments, but we still believe our mentality is very much a startup mentality. We have the startup hunger, we are passionate like any other startup," says Bhat adding "I am the oldest member of our team, the average age of which is 23 years."

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