Amit Akali, former NCD, Grey Worldwide, has announced the launch of a full service digital agency, along with his brother Praful Akali, called ‘What’s Your Problem’ (WYP). Praful Akali, founder and managing director of Medulla Communications will continue with his current role.
The two agencies (Medulla Communications and What’s Your Problem) will function independently under the same ‘network’, which hasn’t been given a name. The two agencies consist of 60-members working together from their office in Mumbai.
The other founding members are Huzefa Roowala (formerly with MTV) and Hammad Khan (formerly with Wizcraft).
Amit Akali said, “We’d like to label this as an ‘agency for the digital world’. The reason for existence would be that the digital guys get technology fantastically well. They come up from technology backgrounds and then become digital agencies. But, what a lot of them don’t get right is the agency part, which is about creativity. These digital agencies don’t match the creativity of a mainline agency. What is happening with a mainline agency is that, a lot of them have either gone and bought a digital agency, or set up one, but the integration between the two has never really happened. So, that was a large starting point.”
He added, “‘Creative brand solutions for a Digital World’ is our tagline. Every word of which has been debated heatedly and best summarises what we bring to the table. For example, the words ‘Digital World’ have been used – and not digital agency. The digital world is an ‘always on’ world, where all media get integrated and all brands are present, at all times. ‘Brand’ – it all starts with understanding the brand, its problems, and its target consumer. Therefore, the services we offer include positioning and brand identity. ‘Solutions’ – we don’t just create communication but solutions to marketing problems. And the solution could really come from anywhere: A design idea, product idea, website, SEM, SEO, SMO, social listening, ORM, CRM, anywhere. ‘Creative’ – in this continuous, entertaining, informative, interactive digital world, brand communication competes with entertainment, hence you need to find the most creative, fresh, wow way to grab your consumer’s attention, and that’s obviously where our strength lies. What we’re calling a digital agency or an agency for the digital world is really the only agency a client needs – one that marries strategy, creativity and technology.”
Praful Akali added, “While Amit and me were very clear what kind of agency we wanted to build, we were equally clear we wanted the right team on board, one that shares our vision and doesn’t duplicate our skill sets but adds to them.”
On the reason for launching a digital agency, Amit Akali, said, “I knew that digital marketing has been a gap for the best advertising agency folks, and if I didn’t deep dive into understanding digital marketing now, it would never happen. So, while we hired digital experts, I’ve gone back to school, to become a certified digital marketer. The more I’ve understood digital, the more I’ve understood it’s just a medium but a medium that allows you to do so much more and where all media will eventually converge. More importantly I’ve understood how to marry it with strategy and creative. So, the last year has been a fantastic learning experience.”
The team also consists of Ajay Takalkar, director – art and design, who leads a team of art directors, designers and animators at WYP. He joined the agency from Ogilvy. Hensila Kava, who is digital media specialist at Medulla Communications, will be the social media lead at the agency.
The agency that began operations officially on 1 January 2015 has a client list which includes Indigo FM (a channel in Goa and Bengaluru), Indigo Live (a live performance club in Bengaluru), Nilgai Foods (a gourmet food company and makers of Pico Bhut Jolokia, ‘India’s spiciest sauce’), and Brinc, an international client. Other client announcements are also in the pipeline, informs the team. Along with these clients, the agency also worked on a digital campaign alongside Chapter Five for Flipkart.
Roowala said, “It’s very clear that clients are looking for digital agencies that understand brands and consumers. We’ve met clients with digital presentations, where they’ve loved the insight and asked if the same could be brought alive in above the line media. We’ve explained – sure, the brand stays the same and so does the insight, it’s just the medium that changes. We are so idea-driven, we’ve actually taken a digital idea into mainline and not the other way around. Similarly we’ve signed up clients for digital and social media and they’ve subsequently asked us to work on strategy and help reposition their brand.”
On the culture, Praful Akali said, “The only reason for WYP to exist is to do great work that works for the brand. We make sure that doing great work is the only pressure that’s there on the team, and work hard at removing the pressures that might come with a start up or from being part of a big multinational network. Of course, all of us being big foodies, there’s the added pressure of – what do we order for lunch today? Jokes aside, we’re building a team of people who’re multi-faceted and have interests other than work. We believe, that when it comes to content creation, it’s these diverse skill sets, which will add an edge to our work. So, one of our team-members is a biker and test rider, Hammad has been an under-19 state level cricketer and heads a film club, Huzefa runs his own cultural artistic festival ‘Black Out’, Hensila is a certified belly dance instructor. Amit used to write his own food column for the Bangalore Mirror, while I have authored India’s largest-selling book on diabetes.”