Noel D'souza
Jan 22, 2024

Want to underscore upGrad's commitment to nation-building in a technology-centric landscape: Ankit Khirwal

Campaign India chats with Ankit Khirwal, head of marketing, upGrad, and Parikshit Bhattaccharya, chief creative officer, BBH India, about its latest campaign #AageKiSocho (think ahead)

upGrad has rolled out a campaign #AageKiSocho (think ahead), aimed at inspiring Indians to prioritise upskilling in today's technology-centric landscape. 


Conceptualised by BBH India, the campaign consists of three films that revolve around the notion that breaking through career stagnation requires forward-thinking. The films urge professionals and newcomers to move beyond the 'snoozing' culture that often hampers career progression.


The films highlight positive career outcomes and opportunities in the global industrial revolution. Emphasising skill development in areas like management sciences, data science, AI, and machine learning, the approach aims to empower India's youth for a brighter future. The campaign also envisions seasoned professionals evolving into global thought leaders, guiding organisations to new heights.

Campaign India spoke to Ankit Khirwal, head of marketing, upGrad, and Parikshit Bhattaccharya, chief creative officer, BBH India, to learn more about the campaign...


Edited excerpts: 


What was the brief given to BBH for the campaign?


Ankit Khirwal (AK): The brief centred on a few key points, highlighting a shift in consumer behaviour. We emphasised the idea that education is an ongoing process throughout life, challenging career stagnation. 


Addressing the challenge of continuous learning for professionals, our brand aims to reshape this behaviour. We also wanted to build on was fostering a culture of lifelong learning in India, positioning our brand as a catalyst for national improvement. Establishing a purpose in a technology-centric landscape was crucial, portraying our dedication to nation-building. 


The third element involved positioning ourselves as a player in new-age skills like machine learning and AI. These pillars form our strategy, seeking to make a meaningful impact on audience engagement and objectives.


How did BBH go about creating this campaign?


Parikshit Bhattaccharya (PB): The core concept centred on the crucial role of adaptability and continuous learning, especially in today's dynamic environment marked by unpredictability, like the Covid period. 


Emphasising that adept learners excel, especially in established careers, we advocate for an innovative approach to education for those eyeing career transitions or lifestyle advancements. Education, seen as a transformative force, propels individuals towards goals and alters their trajectory. Amid our competitive culture, we recognise a unique opportunity for the brand to guide individuals through this journey, prompting a reassessment of conventional perspectives on education. 


Our goal was to challenge the notion that life begins after education and create a distinctive point of view, facilitating individuals at various life stages in changing their trajectory, as depicted in our narrative.


Could you provide insights into the marketing split for the campaign? 


AK: Currently, our primary focus is on Shark Tank Season 3 on Sony Liv. Through these promotions, we aim to enhance our organic presence, involving all stakeholders, including employees, graduates, and leadership consumers. Additionally, we intend to amplify our message through user-generated content (UGC).


What's the specific impact or objectives that upGrad foresees in terms of reach and engagement for this campaign?


AK: Analysing data from our season one Shark Tank campaign, we noted a significant boost, particularly post an IPL campaign that generated substantial website traffic. Anticipating a similar trend this time, we expect Shark Tank to result in a two-week traffic surge, building on the lower baseline.


The previous Shark Tank collaboration saw a notable increase in conversions, highlighting the importance of contextual trust. We aim to surpass that success, extending the impact beyond working professionals to reach undergraduates, senior professionals, and those studying abroad. 


This broader approach aims for a more substantial impact across the entire spectrum of our upgrade offerings, rather than focusing on a specific section or objective.


What factors influenced the choice of Shark Tank Season 3 for this collaboration, and how does the brand intend to optimise the advantages of this partnership?


AK: The primary reason for selecting Shark Tank aligns with the impactful outcomes mentioned earlier, standing as the most significant factor influencing our decision. Another consideration stems from our consistent observation across various contexts, revealing that content closely related to education or information yields better results. This trend extends to influencer choices, where infotainment influencers provide better results than purely entertainment-focused influencers. These two considerations form the basis for our decision to choose Shark Tank as our platform.


What makes a brief ad film effective for an OTT audience and contributes to capturing their attention? Could you delve into the strategy behind creating easily consumable content and its impact on brand recall and engagement?


PB: We prioritised clear communication over unnecessary details in each piece, aiming to evoke emotions rather than overwhelm them with information. The visual elements establish a tangible connection, while the voice articulates the characters' inner thoughts, symbolising a broader sentiment. Our goal is to subtly convey the generational impact across societal segments, making it relatable to a wide audience. To capture this meta-narrative without appearing front-loaded, we opted for multiple shorter films, allowing a profound connection with the characters. The intention is to authentically tell the story and optimise portrayal across various platforms, including OTT channels.


What's upGrad's 2024 outlook for brand visibility and consumer reach? How does the brand plan to stay ahead and connect with its audience in the evolving ed-tech landscape?


AK: Our primary focus revolves around prioritising outcomes and fostering positive word-of-mouth, recognising the significance of a favourable consumer experience in education, especially post-enrollment.


Additionally, we place a strong emphasis on building trust for the brand within the higher education category. This strategic approach ensures that upGrad is not merely seen as an educational provider but as a comprehensive solution aligned with individual career aspirations.


Furthermore, our strategy involves increasing brand visibility without solely relying on gross rating points (GRPs). Instead, we choose contextual mediums, programs, and content that align well with the sector and the brand. The ultimate goal is to craft a more sincere, intelligent, confident, and inspiring brand, translating into positive top-line and bottom-line results.

Campaign India

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