Agency Report Card 2017: Underdog

We assess Underdog's 2017 performance based on its business results, its innovation and initiatives, its work and awards and its people and leadership.

Jul 18, 2018 05:15:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team

For Underdog, the Mumbai-based agency start-up, the vision was to be the go-to place for the sort of businesses that are not stuck in the old ‘big agency’ space. It looked out for clients that were willing to experiment and respected what an of its size brought to the table. 
Agency Report Card 2017




Country head/s: Vikram Gaikwad and Vistasp Hodiwala

Ownership: Independent

The vision in 2017 was to sustain and grow organically and build on the significant gains that it had in the year gone by. However, the market was brutal in 2017. The twin whammys of GST and demonetisation hurt advertising in general, and small agencies in particular. However, Underdog executives claim that "sticking to the basics with absolute conviction kept us in charge of the situation at all times".
Among the significaant campaigns that Underdog did in 2017 included a campaign for Riso Rice Bran Oil that was a sustained burst of 45 days across all media. The digital was not a part of the original assignment. But Underdog joined hands with Voice of Ram and delivered content (Riso Woman) which put the brand at the center of many conversations.
Government clients hardly seem to fit into the description of clients that Underdog looked for. But in the case of the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), Underdog executives say "it was an unusual assignment that gave us a lot of critical acclaim and satisfaction". The entire region was branded Pune Metropolis by the agency with a logo. It also worked out "a most un-government like Corporate communication content" to highlight the ease of doing business, which the Government of Maharashtra showcased to its international clientele.
In the case of Unilever's Vaseline, the agency was given right of way over their existing internationally aligned agency. Underdog says this wasn’t even a one-off and it now works with the brand on a regular basis on almost all their variants.

Stick to the Underdog

  • Though small in number of total employees, the agency had zero attrition in 2017 and staff strength was expanded.
  • It claims to let go of assignments that seem juicy on the face of it but on closer scrutiny look more like ideas-shopping where agencies are doing a face-off with little idea of actual fees or scope of work.