“Experiential is the next-gen solution to marketing”, Sunil Mehta, JWT


Established in Mumbai in the year 1929, JWT, formerly recognized as J Walter Thompson, is big cheese in the world of global advertising and marketing communications. Headquartered in New York and part of the WPP Group, it boasts of being the fourth largest agency network in the world with a presence in 90 countries. After recently acquiring a majority stake in Encompass and Hungama Digital services, India’s leading events and digital advertising agencies respectively, JWT India has its gaze firmly fixed upon experiential as “the next gen solution to marketing”. EE in conversation with Sunil Mehta, Senior Vice President and Area Systems Director, Central Asia, JWT-  

EE: What brands are you associated with that do experiential in a big way?

Unilever, Pepsi, Hero group, ITC and Godrej are a few brands associated with us who carry out great experiential campaigns.

EE: What is your activity in the live event space?

In the year 2008 we acquired a major stake in Encompass making it our official events division. It undertakes all brand activation, events and content creation for us. From small corporate events to large record- breaking awards functions, we are very active in the events space and do close to 800 events per year which is an average of 3 events per day.

EE: What is the impact of live events as you see it?

Events can establish a one-on-one connection with people which adds great value to a brand. Marketers are steadily recognizing this and so the live events space has grown tremendously over the past years. The ideas that are generated by Encompass are out of the box and really deliver great value for money for every client they’ve handled so far.

EE: What are the three things brands look for in an agency that can carry out an experiential campaign?

In my experience I think the three basic things brands look at before associating with an agency are the kind of talent the agency has, its experience in terms of relevant projects it has undertaken and an all- encompassing global experience/knowledge it brings to the table.

EE: How do brands decide how much of their marketing spend should go towards ATL and BTL respectively?

There is no fixed formula really. Main agency spends, media agency spends, the message each activity wants to communicate, the seasonal and situational stance of the market are all deciding factors. Lets say theres a new luxury car launch, they are of course going to spend big on events because it meets their purpose of establishing a client network and connect. Therefore marketing spends towards various categories are completely client driven and based upon several variables. Our job is to work out how our clients can use their money well and get maximum mileage and value out of each campaign. Each client is a different case study and we use our collective intelligence to consult them and deliver case specific strategies.

EE: Are brands experimental with experiential in India at the moment or are generally playing it safe?

I think the Indian market is very receptive at the moment. Brands are looking at experiential from a broader perspective. We have a digital division- Hungama Digital Services and we’re doing a lot of revolutionary stuff through that division. So it is a good time for India but better times await.

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