"ACQUIRED EXPERTISE COMBINED WITH NEW-ERA GENIUS IS MIND-BLOWING”, RAVI DESHPANDE, WHYNESS
After a stint spanning over two years as Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of WPP owned Contract Advertising, Ravi Deshpande has broken ground with Whyness Worldwide, an integrated solutions company committed to bridging the gap between traditional and digital agencies. “Our tie-up with Findability Sciences, a big data technology company from Boston, and Seenk, a Paris based branding and design company will ensure we offer our clients a multifaceted, encompassing service”, says Deshpande. Just three weeks since inception lets hope marketers can put their money where his mouth is. In conversation with EE:
EE: What are the three things that marketers expects from agencies?
My perception of the three most critical characteristics marketers look for in an agency are strong creative ideas, confidence in their capability to execute and a solid and complete partnership.
EE: As an agency what do you look for in an ideal client?
First and foremost, the client should be open to ideas and experimentation. You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore. He must value what you bring to the table. And of course you’d expect a fair deal in the process with regard to compensation. But overall a great partnership built on mutual trust and friendship.
EE: How receptive is India to experiential marketing in retail at the moment?
Its an extraordinary time for India when it comes to experiential marketing. Retail is a great piece of advertisement for a brand. People are swarming into malls even if there is no plan really of buying and experiential marketing offers a great opportunity to capture their imagination by promoting messages and activities that are engaging. That being said, brands need to behave responsibly by understanding that the consumer’s time and space is valuable, he can be easily annoyed and brands should not step that line. I think that with the changing landscape of the country in terms of retail, better environments to live in, better looking shops and an indulgent lifestyle there is definitely a greater opportunity for brand-consumer engagement.
EE: Please cite an example of a BTL marketing activity done exceptionally well.
Although there is great opportunity to engage consumers through experiential marketing, I don’t think they are many players that understand experiential well. If a consumer walks into a mall and is exposed to a circus of singers, dancers and loud emcees, then I don't think the objective of experiential marketing is even remotely met. That is not entertainment. It is simply disturbance that could possibly never lead to a positive recall value for a brand, in fact I would want to wipe it clean off my memory as soon as possible.
One interesting example that comes to my mind was a display of a larger than life Louis Vuitton bag at the Bangalore airport. This was a few years back and I distinctly remember the attention it was drawing from travellers beautifully engaging with the brand whilst getting their photos clicked. It was an elegant, aesthetically designed, subtle attempt at experiential, resonating the brand’s ethos at a posh environment. On another occasion, Louis Vuitton had converted an entire building to look like a shopping bag in Paris which might have gotten the attention of millions. Now this could be a mix of below-the-line and a bit of outdoor advertising, but to my mind great experiential marketing is when a brand can communicate with the consumer and linger on in his memory through a great experience.
The retail experience of Lush and Body shop carry the same message through their display, design and packaging. Starbucks, with their personalisation and differentiated coffee drinking experience, is an experience that one is unlikely to forget if he’s visited it once. I see effective below the line as a brand’s philosophy doing the talking.
EE: What are the three things brands should keep in mind when deciding a below-the-line campaign?
The brand must clearly know what it stands for. It must know its primary philosophy and the image it wants to communicate. McDonald’s, for example, is a cheerful, fun, family place and you can experience that through the bright and cheery colours, the Ronald McDonald fixture, the play area, the quick indulgent food etc. Or take some designer boutiques such as Armani and Burberry that resonate great design and sophistication at every touch point. Even high-street brands such as Zara or mango create a distinctive shopping experience through their window displays, arrangement of merchandise, layout of furniture and mannequins, engagement with trained sales assistants etc. Today people seek an experience in everything they do, so a boring store really doesn't stand a chance.
EE: What is the gap you experienced between the brand and agency that made you go ahead and launch Whyness?
I worked for a long time for traditional agencies and we did a pretty good job formulating strategies, strong ideas and implementing them in print, outdoor and TVC’s. This has been the realm of the Indian advertising industry for a long period of time. Then a few digital agencies began to mushroom who were largely trying to provide some social media solutions. Traditional agencies understood brand building and they were good at it owing to having practiced it for a long period of time but ever since the onset of the digital revolution these traditional agencies couldn’t quite embrace the shift. On the other hand, while digital agencies could afford solutions and brand extensions, clients were not convinced these agencies understood the brand building process completely. I thought why not have an agency that has the best of both- strategists, storytellers, designers and technologists interacting with each other everyday calibrating singular problems and delivering solutions.
Apart from that I was fascinated by the promise of big data. It is such a strong armory provided you can use it well and intelligently. To have living data where you almost have people’s confidential information available along with a better understanding of what they are doing on the digital space is great ammunition. The possibilities of big data are infinite in order to prepare campaigns and subsequently evaluate them. To be able to bridge the gap it was important to add this ‘big data’ dimension to Whyness and we are proud to be the only agency in India who understands the potential of this tool and is equipped to implement it.
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