Raahil Chopra
Nov 03, 2015

Live Issue: Can agencies handle content demand?

We ask adlanders if agencies can take on everyone from comedy groups to media companies

Live Issue: Can agencies handle content demand?

All India Backhod’s advertising wing, Vigyapanti, just added to a trend we have been seeing for a while – mainline advertising agencies aren’t always first choice when it comes to creating content and films for brands these days. It’s not just longer formats, but also differentiated genres of content that are in demand. Add to this the price and speed factor. So, we asked adlanders whether the industry can compete with these new  sources. Most of them believe there’s no reason for the agencies to worry.

Arun Iyer, chief creative officer, Mullen Lintas Group, says, “I don’t think that they (new sources of content) have skill sets that aren’t in agencies. Even if you take an agency like Vigyapanti, they’ve hired from advertising. The guys are not out of the unknown or something. So, I don’t think the stuff they do/will do is something that advertising agencies cannot do. Their approach is going to be different from an agency – because agencies come with the process etc. I think they will have short in-and-out relationships with clients and I think the difference here will be that they are thinking about themselves as much as they’re thinking about the brand. The agency only thinks about the client and worries what’s going to happen to the brand, while these groups, especially AIB which is already a brand by itself, will be thinking about what works for them.”

Senthil Kumar, national creative director, J. Walter Thompson, believes that these organisations could be an option for collaboration rather than competition. He explains, “I think advertising agencies are not in competition with startups. We can collaborate with them instead. Finally, the idea is the centre of the universe. The content that is created in whatever form – whether it is branded content, pure advertising, user generated content – it revolves around an idea. Content can’t lead to the creation, it has to be the idea that leads to the content and the advertising agencies are on top of the ball. I would work with these outfits; we worked with The Viral Fever for Pepsi and collaborate for content generation.”

Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot India, concurs with Kumar and Iyer. He says, “I think we all deal with ideas – be it any agency including media. Clients are buying big ideas. Once you hit an idea, you can outsource the execution. Content isn’t the core – it’s just one vertical like direct etc. Every client isn’t looking for it. They want to do a bit of it. An agency is the best bet for a client best because they understand the value of brands etc. There’s no one better than these bunch of guys.”

Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, echoes Iyer’s sentiments about the advertising agency keeping the brand’s thought in mind when coming up with communication. He says, “Advertising agencies are all about taking the brand idea, position and personality in mind. They’ve been trained to make them available in a media opportunity. The thinking of an idea and template can be provided by agencies. This can then be taken forward by a comedy group or entertainers.”

 Shiv Sethuraman, group president, South West Asia, Cheil Worldwide, has a word of caution for agencies. He surmises, “Agencies will need to gear up. The existing processes, people and capabilities are not just up to speed. There’s a demand for high-volume, cost effective content with turnaround times being quick. The TVC format is not used to this, and so agencies are going to find it difficult unless they revamp. The demand for video content is growing. So the way we look at scripts and their treatment, to the way they produce and post produce, the entire chain needs to be re-thought.”

Shiv Sethuraman, group president, South West Asia, Cheil Worldwide
“Firstly, video content requires a completely different way of thinking. The content is very short-lived. It needs to be done in a matter of days rather than weeks. There’s campaign-specific content and always-on content.”
Arun Iyer, CCO, Mullen Lintas Group
“It’s not a matter of whether an agency can work on those budgets and speed, but it’s a matter of what the client expects from the agency. If a client wants this from an agency and that’s the brief for it – I think the talent is definitely there. But there is also a conditioning that everyone comes with – an agency versus these content companies. The brief to the agency is for an ad, versus the brief to the content company is for a piece of content. Agencies can deliver this content too.”

Senthil Kumar, NCD, J. Walter Thompson
“The more the people who want to develop content, it is great for advertising agencies and for me, because then I can look at it as people who can do good low-budget digital content for me.”


Santosh Padhi, co-founder and CCO, Taproot India
“We understand content as a medium. The understanding of digital could be questionable, but we understand content. So, I don’t see why creatives in adland cannot contribute to content. They are the best guys for the fine balance.”


Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications
“When it comes to sustained entertainment, you need entertainers. So whether it’s a comedy group or production house, it’s their forte to come up with daily entertainment (or whatever the frequency is). The advertising agency still gives the client direction on whether to take this route or not.”


(This article first appeared in the 30 October issue of Campaign India)

Campaign India

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