Anna, Orion, and Zoya get the ins and outs of the industry bang on each time. We tried to get a peek into their minds.
Cats have always protected humankind.
In ancient Egypt, they were the guardians of the underworld and kept evil at bay. Farmers in Europe from Norse mythology would treat them with care and respect because it could mean a bountiful harvest; cats were the favourite of goddess Frejya who blessed people kind to felines.
Vikings sailed the seas with these creatures because they helped kill the rodents on board while Scots believed the sudden appearance of a black cat in front of their doorstep foretold good fortune… Different regions, different times and yet the same creatures to aid us, humans.
Today is no different. Amid the turbulent stressful times we live in, cats have once again taken responsibility to help us. Only this time, instead of warding off evil spirits, they use nonchalant humour, alarmingly photogenic appeal, and striking insights about the world of advertising to spread smiles through the Instagram account called “Agency Trash Talk”.
Founded in 2016, Orion and Anna were the first cats to helm this account and dole out hilarious and relatable ad world situations. Alas, Anna is no longer with us. Today, partnering Orion is Zoya and the duo have continued the good work. Such is their fame that we (afaqs!) couldn’t get an opportunity to speak to them. Instead, we had to settle for Divya Ramesh and Deepak Gopalakrishnan, their
The two spokespeople have known each other for a long time, well before they entered advertising. While Divya has eight years of experience in this industry, Deepak has 11 and it was in 2013 when they tied the knot. Yes, the two are a couple. Soon, Orion entered their lives and Anna followed him within a month and Zoya in 2019.
“It was time pass; we put our cats into those posts and didn’t take it seriously,” said Divya as she explained to us how Agency Trash Talk came to life and that it wasn’t some brainstormed creative deck like the ones agency folks fret on every second day.
An interesting point to note is about this idea is that it first came to life on Tumblr, a microblogging and social networking website and then progressed to Instagram.
And as we scrolled through the account, we saw a particular organic change – Early posts featured snaps of Orion and Anna while the witty joke or observation was a caption. Now, the captions are splashed across the photograph.
Said Deepak, “Earlier, we wouldn’t put any effort… on Instagram, we got a few options to play around…” He further remarked that Instagram Stories remains one of their favourite features and Divya added that they sometimes go live around 11 am-12 pm because it serves as a good breather for folks looking forward to lunch.
We were curious to understand the thoughts behind the posts. Was it just off the cuff or was there some thought and strategy? The duo told us that they go through the pictures on their phones (there’s a lot) or just click one, reverse engineer it, post it and that “…it’s very rare to get the cats to pose on an idea.”
As for the adland situations, we were told that certain problems like office politics or client problems are common and the two (spokespersons) have seen it all and so have their friends who’ve worked at agencies... "Everything is basis our own experiences and the feelings we felt (around them), we exaggerated it a bit," and Divya then slyly remarked, “Some of it is made up, some of it is real… can’t confirm or deny which is what.”
She went on to tell us that they’ve got a good sense of who follows the account (friends at the start, now a healthy adland populace) and said the two never had a conversation on “What’s our content strategy?” and added that while it’s great that people like what they do, “there’s no pressure on us.”
We saw, a while ago, a post about a digital marketing masterclass on the account. Said Deepak, “I am a freelancer and started the digital marketing course in June… I knew for a fact who followed this account and DMed and asked for details and saw this on my profile, around 15 people signed up…,” and then Divya revealed an interesting part of the sessions when participants often request to see the cats.
The cats are very popular. Turns out, once Deepak and Divya hadn’t posted anything on the Instagram account for six to seven months and people had messaged the account to post something.
Earlier the account had some 30-odd followers, it grew to 200, and now has around 2,000 followers. “…crossed 500 and we thought it’s out of hand… we’re realistic and decided to see how far it will go, 2000-3000 is sweet but we don't have any agenda (for the account),” said Deepak.
A hilarious recurring theme on Agency Trash Talk is about mainline folks trying to understand digital and posts on Ogilvy. To this Deepak said they have worked in digital and have seen the mismatch between mainline and digital and that he’d worked at Ogilvy so he understands the agency’s workings and thus, the posts on it.
We’ve seen how volatile the situation has become for brands and wondered if any posts on Agency Trash Talk attracted criticism? “It’s all in good humour... there’s a joke and there’s nothing malicious.., there’s no joy derived out of people shaming...,” said Deepak.
For a personal account, Agency Trash Talk has enjoyed success and keeps gaining followers. When asked on the learnings, Deepak said, “Don’t worry about the misses, just keep trying stuff, some will stick, some will not…” and Divya weighed in that you should try not to take yourself seriously and “chill out, do something, and have fun.”