Harindra Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Percept Limited
“Innovation is vital if you want to be successful in any business. During the first decade of our existence we stayed focused on our core area of deliveries, but remained adaptable to shifting consumer tastes, and evolved as rapidly as the market dynamics changed. We got several distinctions in the first 10 years. We were ranked the ‘Fastest Growing Advertising Agency’, listed in the ‘Top 5 Financial Agencies’, titled ‘Brand Builder’, and won numerous accolades as ‘Leading Event Agency’, ‘Leading Talent Agency’, ‘Leading Sports Agency’ and more.” Said Harindra Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, Percept Limited
In an interaction with MediAvataar India Mr.Singh discussed the iconic brand their agency is today and how they believe in keep innovating in order to build an even better legacy.
Here is the complete Q&A…
MediAvataar: What does Percept stand for?
Harindra: Percept was incepted on January 2, 1984 and was originally called Perceptions because this was the most repeated word in my tenure working in an industry that was purely focused on changing people’s perceptions. A few weeks later we went to the Times of India to release an ad and the guy asked us the name of our company. When we replied Perceptions, he told us that there’s already a company with that name. As a newcomer in this space I had no money to print new stationary. So I went back to the office, took a blade and actually cut the last few letters off the artwork and the rubber stamps. And that's how Perceptions became Percept. Today it seems like a very apt name. After all Percept is an object of perception, the mental result of perceiving; an impression or sensation that is developed as a consequence of the process of perception.
MediAvataar: Percept has such a long standing history behind it, which one is your most favourite vertical and why?
Harindra: We love everything we do… Be it our flagship creative Advertising business, the challenging nuances of our PR vertical, the fast paced evolution and diversity of our Media division, the dynamism of our Activations and ICE vertical, the groundbreaking potential of our Content SBU, or the challenges and excitement of our Live Entertainment unit, we absolutely enjoy our EMC business in its entirety.
MediAvataar: Please share some of your campaigns in the Advertising domain that have really made you feel proud.
Harindra: We have rolled out over 2,500 ad campaigns in the past three decades for some of the best know Indian and multinational clients.
Some of the most memorable campaigns created include the ‘Desh ki Dhadkan’ concept for Hero Honda that became so popular and recognized in positioning their brand that it was used in their principal communication across all their products for 3 decades.
‘Coming Home to Siyarams’ became one of India’s longest running campaigns and was endorsed by leading celebrities including Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta, Boris Becker, MS Dhoni, Ajay Jadeja, and Dino Morea over a span of 30 years.
The many novel brand identity campaigns executed by us for Pantaloon over the past decade transformed them into one of India’s leading retail apparel brands.
The ‘Jai Ho’ campaign was another out-of-the-box campaign that swept the masses in the 2009 General Elections in India and garnered overwhelming popularity for the Congress.
The unique positioning of ‘Luxury Suiting’ for Reid & Taylor was showcased through the tagline ‘Bond with the Best’ endorsed by James Bond 007 (Pierce Brosnan).
With Force India we overcame the biggest challenge of creating a brand new category in sport in a cricket crazed nation by marrying the attributes of F1 with the consumer mindset.
The Bharti India Campaign - ‘Proud to be Indian, Proud to be Bharti’ campaign for Bharti went on to touch the hearts of a billion Indians.
MediAvataar: How do you look at your competition?
Harindra: Competition is necessary to grow the overall market. We need more Ad, PR, Event, OOH, Content and Live Event companies to ensure that everyone is doing their best. Competition raises the bar and propels everyone to improve their standard and go that extra mile to innovate and offer unique services, productions and solutions to their stakeholders.
Knowledge is vital to attain that extra edge and stay on top of the game. The basic essentials are business acumen, understanding of the TG and domain knowledge coupled with relationships to be able to create a successful brand or campaign. Unfortunately many people get into the industry driven by short term vision, lack of knowledge and experience, leading to failures and losses. It is conveniently attributed to cluttered environment which is not true.
Competition is amazing and brings out the best in us. Sunburn, our Intellectual Property, and today ranked one of the largest Music Festivals in the world, wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for the competition. Supersonic forced us to evolve by shifting our event out of Candolim. We had no choice but to scout for suitable new locales across Goa. And in the process, we stumbled upon and zeroed in on Vagator, thereby now increasing our limited ground space available in Candolim hosting 35,000 visitors to accommodating over 100,000 people in the vast region of Vagator. Growing competition forces us not to get complacent, laid back. It helped push our boundaries, capabilities and offerings to our consumers.
Competition and the thumb rule of a business life cycle forced us to become the best, boldest and biggest in the Live Event business. Even after Sunburn was declared as big as Tomorrowland and Ultra Miami in the IMS APAC Business report 2014, we proactively pushed ahead to innovate and aimed to become the No. 1 EDM Festival in the world. This spans having the best artist line-ups, the best of engagement activities for our partners, visitors & sponsors, best facilities at the venue, world class security, state-of-the-art technology and more. Competition forces us to be on our feet around the clock, and that’s exactly what new age cutting edge business is all about.
MediAvataar: How important is it to keep innovating?
Harindra: Innovation is vital if you want to be successful in any business. During the first decade of our existence we stayed focused on our core area of deliveries, but remained adaptable to shifting consumer tastes, and evolved as rapidly as the market dynamics changed. We got several distinctions in the first 10 years. We were ranked the ‘Fastest Growing Advertising Agency’, listed in the ‘Top 5 Financial Agencies’, titled ‘Brand Builder’, and won numerous accolades as ‘Leading Event Agency’, ‘Leading Talent Agency’, ‘Leading Sports Agency’ and more.
And then came the stage in the early '90s when we were hit by this global paradigm shift. When I got into this business, there was just one kind of agency, ie: ‘Full Service’. And, then came a time when full service agencies were seen as useless doctors. So we adapted and innovated to offer a one-stop-shop Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) solution.
Over the past 32 years, we constantly innovated to stay ahead of the game. When everyone was following the ‘norm’, we broke the mould, and when industries were bound by their status quo we branched out. We broke many traditions, mindsets and cliché barriers to constantly launch innovative and path-breaking content, services and properties that were revolutionary, futuristic and customized to the needs of the diverse and ever evolving Indian and global audience. At Percept, ‘Change is the only Constant’.
For example, in spite of Sunburn being ranked consecutively Asia’s No. 1 Dance Music Fest and acclaimed as showcasing the most incredible main stage, we innovated and raised the bar every year. In December 2015, we had stated that the Sunburn Main Stage should be the best and largest in the world to live up to audience expectations and keep up with our repute of being the best across the globe. We pushed ever boundary, technology and capability to achieve this in 2015. The Sunburn Goa 2015 Main Stage was 300 feet wide and 100 feet high; one of the world’s largest, titled ‘Empire Of The Sun’ drawing its inspiration from Indian ethnicity. The stage comprised of 300 moving heads (intelligent lighting), 2500 sq feet of LED, more than 100 boxes of sound with 200 people workforce executing the same. No company till date has surpassed this amazing feat.
Whatever we learnt has been first hand, on the ground. When you have been on the street long enough, you develop that instinct, you are able to pre-empt; you don't wait for the hurdle or change to pop up, but find an innovative solution around it way before it happens. At every step of the way we remained receptive to change, found strategic gap areas, took huge risks, and held a strong position if we believed in a project. We learnt fast enough that clients do not want pure advertising, or PR or Events...they want ‘Solutions’. We took the position to provide that innovative holistic solution across the Entertainment, Media and Communications domain, and that’s really what gives us the staying power and an edge in the global market today.
MediAvataar: What according to you is a perfect message?
Harindra: The one that sells!
MediAvataar: In your career journey, what has been one of your most a) gratifying and b) bizarre experiences so far?
Harindra: Client saying thanks… never happens :)
MediAvataar: What’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy while balancing the books?
Harindra: Percept’s growth has come around due to good work and great word of mouth referrals. My personal networking actually never went beyond our own team of people and clients. I have always believed in being true to our work, clients and team...and that’s what helped us grow immensely.
MediAvataar: Where do you place India on the global creative marketing backdrop?
Harindra: With 1.2 billion people, you’ve got literally millions of Indians spanning the globe with genius level IQs, strong drive and ambition. Indians have time and again proven that they are brilliant at whatever they apply their mind to, be it Math, Science, IT, Media, the Creative Arts, Medicine, Academics, Research and more. What they have achieved, they have done through hard work, determination, intellect and a good education.
But above all, I believe it’s our strong ‘Value’ system that differentiates us and makes us stand tall in the global creative marketing backdrop. Over the years, our strong value system has reflected in everything we think, speak and do on the global platform. Our exposure and genuine embrace of a multiplicity of religions, cultures and lifestyles has reflected in our creative marketing solutions and offerings, and have only served to make us stand apart, excelling in every domain and enriching the global melting pot.
MediAvataar: Your message to the budding marketing professionals in India.
Harindra: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, WORK HARD… IT WILL ALL HAPPEN.
ZEE Anmol connects with millions of pilgrims at Pandharpur Yatra
With a view to enable a hassle-free pilgrimage experience at the ongoing Pandharpur Yatra in Maharasthra, India’s leading FTA GEC (free-to-air general entertainment channel), Zee Anmol will be undertaking many unique initiatives. The channel aims to reach out to lakhs of people that set out on this holy pilgrimage that takes approximately nineteen days. Keeping in mind the cultural sensitivities, Zee Anmol will provide many facilities to enable devotees to have an organised, relaxed and memorable pilgrimage.
Located on the banks of the Bhima River, Pandharpur is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in India. The city, popularly known as Pandhari, hosts the renowned Lord Vitthal Temple. The site hosts four annual yatras, amongst which the pilgrimage in the month of June- July attracts the largest numbers of pilgrims. Over 10 lakh devotees from various socio economic backgrounds set out for this yatra every year. Known for its thoughtful and heartwarming initiatives at Yatras and Melas ever since its launch, Zee Anmol, has organized vans to take devotees from Alandi and Pune that will enable them to cross each milestone of this auspicious pilgrimage. Throughout the day, a canter acts like a stage for devotees to perform bhajans and kirtans. After 6:30 PM, the canter doubles up as a large screen which showcases the LIVE Darshan of Vitthal Rakhumai from Pandharpur. At Pandharpur, safe and secure changing rooms for women have been organized. Huge LCD screens have been installed for people standing in long queues and also at the Math where pilgrims stay overnight.
Speaking on this initiative, Mr. Sunil Buch, Chief Business Officer, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) said, “Since its launch, Zee Anmol has undertaken many initiatives for the upliftment of rural India which is in line with the channel’s positioning ‘Dil Choo Jaye’. The pilgrimage to Pandharpur is a journey that everyone aspires to undertake. The facilities that the channel will provide for the devotees have been carefully planned with a view to enable them to focus solely on the spiritual aspect of their journey and their safety.
The 5 “Must Dos” for Successful Brand Experience Innovation
Brand experience innovation is anything a brand does in culture to bring its purpose to life.
It’s more important than ever for marketers. Consumers today are far more interested in what a brand does than what a brand says. They remember how brand experiences make them feel, and link those feelings to the brand.
Brand experience is how brands make a meaningful contribution to culture. Being innovative with brand experience allows brands to differentiate and deliver their purpose in a refreshing way that engages consumers.
Without brand experience innovation, new products or services can have limited impact, especially in mature markets where competitors can replicate quickly and people are already spoilt for choice.
We came up with 5 “must dos” which businesses should follow for successful brand experience innovation:
1. Brands must have 100% clarity on the brand purpose and character. Brand purpose is why you exist. Brand character is who you are as a brand – the values and beliefs that determine how you behave. Clarity here is a crucial foundation for any brand activity, and particularly for brand experience innovation. It provides direction on the type of experience that you want to create for your customers, and how to do it in a way that is unique to your brand.
2. Deeply understand your target consumer and the culture that surrounds them. Knowing what is important to them, the tensions that they experience, allows you to identify how your brand can make a valued contribution to that culture. Credibly resolving the tensions that exist means you can create valued brand experiences that build vibrancy into your brand in a meaningful way. The Color Run is a global phenomenon because it tapped into a cultural tension (we all know we should go for a run, but it’s so lonely and boring) and resolved it by injecting fun into a shared experience.
3. Creating a mission for your brand focuses your attention and effort on a specific goal. The most powerful brand experiences are focused on a single goal, avoiding over-complication and helping consumers to instantly understand the brand’s point of view. A mission is something your brand has a right to do, that will bring value to your consumer’s lives. It should be audacious and stretching, but also tangible and real. This mission creates coherence across every brand experience you create, ensuring that they all build towards bringing your purpose to life. The commitment that Always has made to building self-esteem among young women during puberty is a fantastic example of a brand on a mission.
4. Understand the key moments of truth along the customer journey, and build your brand experience to deliver at these moments. Every customer has a journey with your brand, both holistically and over time. Bringing value to people’s lives in the key moments that matter drives engagement with the brand. It’s a great way to demonstrate that the brand understands and cares about its customers. Brand experience innovation can entertain, solve problems or create new utility across the journey. IKEA’s delivery and furniture building service recognizes that their customer journey does not end when they leave the store, but only when the furniture is built and being used at home.
5. Focus on growth in the long term. Brand experience innovation creates meaningful relationships between people and brands that endure over time. It creates strong perceptions about brands in the minds of consumers. While brand experiences may not always have an immediate commercial payoff, the value comes from playing a vibrant role in culture, constantly re-engaging consumers using innovative approaches, and driving consumer advocacy of your brand. It’s long term brand value that you’re building.
Deb Ryan, Executive Director, Midas Awards®
Inside the Midas Awards® with Deb Ryan, Executive Director
Question: The Midas Awards® is celebrating its 15th year of honoring the World’s Best Financial Advertising℠, in your opinion, to what do you attribute the longevity and success of this competition?
Deb Ryan: The longevity comes from the quality of the work being submitted every year, combined with the expertise of the Midas Award Grand Jury. Having the work judged by agency leaders and incredibly well-respected industry experts from around the globe lays the foundation for the winners to know, with confidence, that they’ve earned their Midas Award.
Question: This is your inaugural year at the helm of the Midas Awards, what are your goals to continue the legacy of Midas and expand its global footprint?
Deb Ryan: I’m really excited and motivated to continue the fine job done by my predecessors, while making sure that we’re exploring the financial advertising landscape with open minds and open eyes. So much attention goes to new mediums (which is warranted), that we must not lose sight of traditional methodologies that are still netting the results desired. It’s easy to get caught up in the shiny new object in the room, and it’s my job to make sure we’re covering all of the industry bases.
Question: What excites you about financial advertising?
Deb Ryan: The challenge of doing impactful work within an industry where the message isn’t always easy to understand right off the bat. Often times a product explanation needs to be woven into the message in this space. It’s more difficult than creating campaigns for a baseball team or a chocolate bar. This is why it’s so amazing to see the quality of the work we judge at the Midas Awards.
Question: What are the criteria for recruiting the Midas Awards Grand Jury? What mix of disciplines do you aim for in your global jury?
Deb Ryan: The Grand Jury is really the most important part of what we do. We have to get that right and the mix needs to include individuals who are well accomplished (obviously), but also open-minded to the new media world we live in, without holding prejudices towards some old-school methodologies that brands still utilize effectively. I absolutely love the mix of brand, agency CEO’s and creatives, as well as some of the individuals who have been in the trenches at their places of work. The success or failure of advertising campaigns has had a direct effect on their day-to-day transactional jobs at some point in their careers, which provides perspective. Brand Managers, copywriters and strategists are the lifeblood of our jury, but adding brokers and business managers to the mix provides so much value to the process.
Question: Which trends do you foresee influencing this year’s Midas Awards entries?
Deb Ryan: I’d love to pull back the curtain a bit to see how social data intelligence is being utilized. We now have the ability to learn so much about the consumers we’re after, which leads to precision in the messaging and the ability/need to be able to turn on a dime when needed. It adds to the challenge and makes for much better work in my opinion. Other trends that we have been seeing are Sustainability, Local focus and Loyalty.
Question: How important is story and personality to the brand and how does it influence consumers?
Deb Ryan: It’s incredibly important. When a brand can touch a consumer through content that builds trust, you’re winning the battle. Consumers want to know that you, as a brand, understand them and feel their pain. Proper content creation has to be able to do that without feeling fake, or brands run the risk of looking cold and manipulative. It’s not an easy balance to strike, and it’s up to the Midas Awards Grand Jury to figure out who does it best.
Question: How is financial marketing adapting to the social savvy technologically adept millennial consumer? Can you share any examples of financial campaigns that are successfully connecting with millennials?
Deb Ryan: Those millennials can be somewhat tricky. As a group, they really need to see that a brand cares about them as people, and the planet we inhabit. They’re so influenced by the connection between the corporate world and causes that are important to them, that brands need to really show that they’re not only there to help them through important decisions in life, but are also good stewards of the planet. The work Accenture does on behalf of Save the Children, and The Hartford has done for a long time through its sponsorship of the Paralympic Games serve as fine examples of how a brand can connect to the millennial mindset through cause marketing that connects with them deeply.
Question: How has digital and mobile changed the way consumers connect with financial brands?
Deb Ryan: We live in a world where instantaneous, seamless transactions are expected. Consumers need tangible proof that their needs will be met by the brands they do business with, or they will absolutely take their business elsewhere. It’s really on the brands to have their digital infrastructure up to snuff, and/or have the dexterity to fix issues quickly so as to gain consumer trust. Without that, you’re in trouble.
Question: What do you personally do to stay on top of the trends and evolutions in the industry today?
Deb Ryan: I still read the trades daily to keep up on a lot, and also frequent the websites of the companies I personally do business with to see what they’re doing to innovate. There are also many great newsletters and blogs that keep me up-to-date. I love reading about content strategies discussed by the Content Marketing Institute, as they seem to have it all covered by experts who know their stuff.
Question: What makes a campaign worthy of the Grand Midas?
Deb Ryan: When the campaign translates easily and engages several important mediums simultaneously, you’ve got a winner! Last years’ Allstate #MAYHEMSALE was genius. It was both funny and alarming, and not only tied social and TV seamlessly, but it utilized the Sugar Bowl sponsorship as a key part of the plan. Amazing work and absolutely worthy of a Grand Midas!!!
Question: Do you have any inside advice for someone entering the 2016 Midas Awards?
Sony SAB heralds its new show, ‘Khidki’ in an innovative way
The channel has embarked on an aggressive 360 degree marketing campaign to bring alive its promise of real funny stories from across India for its new mini television series
Sony SAB, the light-hearted family entertainment channel of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN), has undertaken an innovative and unique approach in promoting one of its new shows – ‘Khidki’. What defines the new mini-series is that ‘real’ life funny stories sourced from audiences from all parts of India will be dramatized, developed and adapted for the small screen. With the intention of crowd sourcing such genuine and cherished stories from viewers, the channel has embarked on a phase-wise campaign to create awareness about the show and invite entries.
‘Khidki’s ongoing publicity campaign has met with considerable success generating a total of 12,345 (twelve thousand and three hundred forty-five stories), thus far! The first phase of this campaign was devised to actively scout for comic content from consumers. From partnering with the micro-blogging site – Twitter to run a contest titled ‘#Tweetyourfunnystory’, to a live Q&A session with the producers of the show JD Majethia and Umesh Shukla on Twitter's video-streaming app Periscope, the channel has pulled out all stops in ensuring that it stokes excitement amongst consumers in sharing some of their funniest stories. Sticking to its promise of presenting viewers ‘interesting, real life stories from every corner of India’, SAB has conducted an activation program in long-distance trains like Rajdhani, Shatabadi and Garib Rath. In addition, SAB has also run multiple promos on its home channel encouraging consumers to upload their funny stories on the microsite.
From ushering the need for people to share some of their heartfelt stories in the first phase of the campaign, SAB has now decided to add momentum to its campaign movement by undertaking initiatives to drive tune-ins for the show in the second phase. Leaving no stone unturned in creating a buzz about the new show, the channel has embarked on a 9-series illustration-based print advertising campaign, each depicting the kind of story that will be featured in Khidki. The 9-insert campaign is being released across 23 national and regional publications. Further, illustration based outdoor hoardings will be put up across 10 towns. A radio jingle sung by Actor Raghubeer Yadav will be played across Hindi speaking market (HSM) stations and local trains.
True to its personality of successfully connecting, entertaining and engaging with viewers, SAB has decided to launch ‘Khidki’ in a manner no different. For a show who’s USP is ‘real’ stories, the channel has decided to ride high on the ‘relatability’ aspect by getting its SAB Family Club members to unveil the show in different cities across India.
‘Khidki’s’ cast will feature a set of recurring actors like Sarita Joshi, Rajeev Mehta and Lubna Salim to name a few who will portray different characters in different stories, along with narration by host JD Majethia, who is also the producer of the show. Each story will be weaved in episodes designed to last for minimum of three to eight episodes, depending on the length of each story.
Khidki premieres on Tuesday, 28th June, every Monday to Friday, 9:30 pm only on SAB TV!