Ashee Sharma
Points of View

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?

We had some of our creative entrepreneurs answer this question.

To borrow a term from social media lingo, the start-up bug seems to have gone 'viral' in the country today. Since it's irresistible and has bitten the best of professionals, why should the ad-world lag behind?

The past one year saw many industry heavyweights come up with their own creative ventures, each claiming to have a proposition different from the other, and from large network agencies. But, what is it the difference? We asked today's creative entrepreneurs this question and ... the answer is not 'digital' (as one would have anticipated).

Satbir Singh, founder and CCO, Thinkstr (ex-chief creative officer, FCB Ulka)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
The topic reminds me Bollywood ladies and gentlemen who say their film is a love story, albeit a 'different' one. With a couple of decades in the advertising/story-telling/brand building industry, we cannot claim to be setting out to build rockets and missiles. We may, of course, use the services of rockets if we feel they are the best medium to take our brands' messages to their target consumers.

We are lining up digital and interactive training and workshops to connect with the digital world. We are investing in in-house content productions to expedite the creative process. The most important thing that will set us apart from other independent agencies and large networked agencies is that we are just 50 metres away from Khan Chacha's rolls and biryani!

Sudhir Nair, co-founder and CEO, 21N78E (ex-senior vice-president and head - digital at Grey Group)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
We operate on a very different principle. We created our own proprietary brand-planning tool 'Aether'. This tool takes into account the varied dynamics of the brand and the consumer's decision-making process. The outcome is a set of good insights that help in arriving at 'communication levers' that could be consumer-in or brand-out. The entire process is very inclusive. Our philosophy is built around operating within an ecosystem that exists in a consumer's mind-set. When the right brain takes over, the team has a definite idea of the canvas that exists. The products that we are working on are also a result of mapping certain ecosystems for consumer segments, and the vacuums therein. This is all creatively conceptualised, but well-researched logic.

S Yesudas, managing director and co-founder, triggerbridge, the unagency (ex-managing director, Indian sub-continent, at Dentsu Aegis Network's Vizeum)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
The ad agency business has traditionally been about helping brand owners 'sell' to consumers short-term; largely tactical actions. But, agencies don't take any accountability as advertising can finally only do that much. We look at this differently. We believe a brand has to first discover its core purpose and align like-minded consumers to it. Then, the brand sees the universe grow exponentially. We use three interventions to deliver this -- content, technology, and data. In some of our assignments, clients continue to engage their agencies. We add another layer. We deliver cost-saving and effectiveness. Results are measured on share of vision and share of empathy scales. We provide full accountability for our actions.

The success of Delhi's Odd/Even, despite all the opposition in the beginning and failure of FB's FreeBasics, despite their signature campaign, is proof that genuine purpose will true/vertex (our philosophy) brands, and the rest will keep on advertising, spending more and more.

Amit Akali, managing partner and creative head, What's Your Problem (ex- NCD at Grey)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
Most new agencies speak about problem-solving. We've included it in our name! We're neither a mainline agency nor just a digital agency; we're an agency for the digital world. We're a full-service digital agency, offering web development, SEO, SEM, social media, analytics, mobile, content, digital, and video. We bring the same ideas alive on mainline mediums including television, print, outdoor, radio, and BTL (with POS and activation). Understanding brands is our starting point -- we also offer brand-building services such as market consultancy and visual identity.

We truly want to be the only agency a client needs. And, that's what has happened with most of our clients. While we started out as a social and digital agency for Bharat Matrimony and Pico, today we do their outdoor, TVCs... everything.

Arijit Ray, co-founder and managing partner, Paperboat Brandworks (ex-CEO Dentsu Communications)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
Great creative work happens when knowledge, creativity, and common sense intersect. We operate from the stand-point that the more the world fragments, the more we need to draw on our fundamental understanding of the brand world. What the brand needs, and the consumer context, should always be at the core. This is what informs all our thinking and creative solutions -- whether it is for stand-alone initiatives, or through-the-line, integrated mandates.

We have a fusion of strategic, creative and business acumen. Our experience of working across categories and mandates helps us navigate and plan for the challenges of the dynamic, uncertain, multi-faceted, consumer-choice-driven market place.

We want to arrive at solutions that are simple, media and platform-agnostic, visually brilliant, and relevant.

Kaustav Das, chief executive officer, Ralph&Das (ex-EVP South, Publicis Ambience)

What Makes Your Creative Start-up Different?
Ralph&Das is an integrated agency spanning strategic consultancy, advertising, social media, and audio visual content. The founders have had the width of experience working in the best advertising agencies and the depth of experience across all functions including brand management (client's side), strategic planning, creative and film direction. We are unique in having not just pure strategic consultancy clients apart from clients seeking integrated solutions, but we also direct all our films in-house. And, our first four clients came on board without us having to pitch for it and even before the company was officially formed.
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