How have things changed with the lockdown and pandemic ?
Look, everything changed the world over with Covid 19. The impact was so strong that Trump lost elections in the US, that is how significant the pandemic is. It impacted economies worldwide, put countries into recession and took away a lot of lives.
India was no different and several industries were impacted since March upto the festive season. Whether auto, retail, hospitality including airlines were impacted tremendously and that automatically had a direct impact to advertising. Nobody knew how to battle this situation and so it was quite a task for the first 4 months since March.
We learnt with clients and we were absolutely clear that we will hold hands and let them know that we are in this together. That helped to begin with. There were non stop meetings, discussions and progressive thinking that helped us build strategies to combat the situation. Lot of things changed for the good too, while initial days were difficult acclimatising to work from home, it soon dawned on everyone that this is the new normal. Social distancing is going to be way of life for sometime to come, work from home is going to be norm and getting everyone to realise that we got to look ahead was not an easy task.
But to my surprise, teams rallied around each other and in time the human resilience was peaking to its best graph. We were there for each other to begin with and that reflected in our efforts and the hunger to win because businesses were not spending given the issues the country was addressing collectively. This meant we had to look for businesses outside of our comfort zone categories and we went after them and we kept winning pitches.
DDB Mudra Group is an integrated one of its kind agency which puts us in a unique position of strength which we were now capitalizing. As a group the teams across units won over a 100 clients and the leadership is the best in the business enabling us to continuously pick ourselves to keep moving forward.
So there have been a lot of plusses than minuses for us simply because of the great leadership we have at DDB in India led by Aditya Kanthy.
What has been your experience of pitching during the lockdown?
It was different! While I have been used to physical pitches, we had to now perform like an orchestra on video calls so it was lights, camera and action. At times I felt like an actor facing the camera but that has how we all tuned ourselves so that the client literally feels our passion for the business and sees the value we bring on the table even when we were working remotely.
Some of them were brilliant and some had operational issues post wins but that’s part of life so if I had to compare real world to the virtual world specifically for pitches then let me tell you that I am more comfortable with virtual pitches now simply because of the number of wins we have had in our businesses across the group. As a media head of the agency, I wondered how it would all pan out but after seeing how we have delivered my confidence is on a different plane pitching virtually during the lockdown.
I believe this is going to stay because why do we need to waste money on travel and spend a lot of unproductive time going from one place to another when the output is better than before doing it virtually. Large organizations have seen the benefits of working from home and hence I think this is also going to stay for sometime to come.
With clients inclined to spend less going forward, do you think advertising will have to work doubly hard to get results for marketers? What is your view?
I don’t think that is correct. 2021 will be consolidation where we are looking at continuing with our good work but the opportunity ahead is very exciting. India is poised for the fastest recovery and growth in decades, IMF has projected that India will grow to 8.5% in GDP and will be the fastest growing market in world overtaking China.
Now this is simply because of the sheer size of our country and a super young population where we have over 65% of our people falling under the age group of 35 and a very progressive one at that. See what data is doing to our lives across categories such as education, healthcare, video content consumption, eCommerce et all..we sold over 15M million phones a minute during the festive sale period on Amazon and Flipkart as per RedSeer’s report and our tier 2 towns are leading the race clearly indicating that while the economy has slowed down it has not slowed down purchase intent.
Look at the GST collection in the last two months, it has been the highest ever crossing 1L Crore with a YTD of 10% growth. This is an indication on how things are coming to normal with regular businesses and SMEs.
So 2021 might be a grind but our golden period is sure to begin in 2022 and hence I believe that spends will increase on marketing efforts beginning 2022 while 2021 will continue to be on levels we have seen before March 2020.
In the last few months, there has been a specific trend build up in the mobile marketing space? Your thoughts?
Look, the media consumption is largely shifted onto mobile, thanks to the massive 4G penetration of Jio and people consume a whole lot of video, buy products online etc on mobile phones. Naturally the focus then becomes mobile and hence the build up. This will continue to soar.
How is digital transformation changing the digital marketing industry?
We all have seen memes of Covid 19 being your Chief Digital Officer and that is exactly what is happening post the pandemic. Most businesses are building a strong business. It’s the connected story that is making the transformation process so important. What I mean by this is that digitization had happened in departments of organization but a connected story wasn’t as prevalent, which is what is leading the charge.
Secondly, there are a lot of consumer brands who are seeing big shifts in purchase patterns and we have seen that happening with some of the brands we work with where eCommerce has taken precedence and become the largest distribution channel for brands beating their offline sales, this therefore becomes a natural progression for brands where they now are looking at building their owned and operated distribution channels making the transformation process critical which is connected not just for eCommerce transactions but automating the entire manufacturing process, supply chain, distribution and final last mile to consumers. Supply and Demand are totally connected where marketing transformation is helping organizations plan their investments across functions within their organization and this connected story is what I was referring to.
Once this is done, naturally investments in digital marketing will focus towards eCommerce as a practice within agencies, which is why DDB in India has a completely new product offering in its digital media business with Video, eCommerce and ORM as the mainstay going into 2021.
Which is the next big technology that could disrupt the video-on-demand business?
Technology is ever evolving and I cannot predict what is going to disrupt VOD in specific. The key for VOD is content and to consume that content you will need great streaming capabilities. While we are experiencing 4G at its best, I believe 5G roll out will have a huge impact on experience and this as technology could be a big disrupter. We are reading the tests of Jio and others in this regard and I am sure we will have more information in the next year or so the moment TRAI decides to open up more airwaves for the same purpose.
The Best Businesses Are Built Around Passion. What are your views on this?
I don’t agree. Passion is one component for success and you get passionate when you know you have a winner or you are looking to solve a problem in a business passionately. So I believe product, user experience and convenience are the key and if you have an offering which has these three ingredients then passion is a subset that follows through automatically.
Likewise if you are solving a problem around the three points I have mentioned, you need to have the passion to go through the distance till you land up building an offering. So passion is important but its not the only reason why businesses get built.
What trends do you observe, going forward into 2021?
Video and eCommerce are going to dominate our lives and therefore you will have tremendous growth in these areas going into 2021.
What will it take for the advertising and media industry to come back to normal? What are the suggestions you would like to make?
Look, Advertising and Media are always considered costs, the moment you start seeing that as investments which progressive brands do then your entire approach towards those investments changes because now you are looking at ensuring your immediate future is secured. That thought in itself changes the way a marketer now starts to plan his/her campaigns.
KPIs change dramatically when your mindset changes from costs to investments when it comes to marketing and that is one suggestion I would like to make to the industry at large.
On a personal note, what have been the highlights of your career so far? Your key learnings?
There have been many highlights but 2020 has been the best year for me in terms of learnings and understanding human behaviour. This year has brought a lot of people together and helped them understand that there is always an opportunity in adversity and that is something I have always believed in therefore validating my approach to life.
ZEE5 Global today signed a partnership with Lulu Exchange, with an aim to reach over 100,000 consumers across Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar. The partnership will see the alliance of two of the leading entities in their respective spheres, ZEE5 Global - the most comprehensive digital entertainment platform for Indian content, and LuLu Exchange - one of the largest financial service providers in the Middle East.
The partnership will enable Lulu Exchange consumers to avail a 1-month free subscription of Zee5 Global against a successful transaction. The offer will be made available to all customers who transact via LuLu Exchange, either through the Lulu Money App or the company’s physical branches.
Sharing her view on the partnership, Ms. Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said “The Middle East is one of our highest priority markets globally, not only from an audience point of view but also from a strategic partnerships perspective. Lulu Exchange is a leading NBFC and has a vast reach in the region. We’re extremely thrilled to announce this partnership with them which will help us reach the vast diaspora audience in the market and give them immediate access to the largest bouquet of Indian and South Asian content.”
Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director of Lulu Financial Holdings said “We are always on the lookout to create synergies with like-minded brands and offer our consumers something new and exciting. The partnership with ZEE5 Global beautifully blends with our long-standing mission to deliver satisfying consumer experiences and act as a unique value-add for the trust our consumers have placed in our services.”
With over 125,000 hours of Indian TV Shows, Movies, News and Videos, ZEE5 offers the largest bouquet of content across 18 languages to its audiences across the globe. ZEE5 today has the largest width and depth of content across Music, Cineplays, News, and Health and Lifestyle across genres ranging from dramas to thrillers, biopics, standup comedy and more.
LuLu International Exchange is a part of LuLu Financial Group, an ISO 9001:2015 certified global financial services enterprise headquartered in Abu Dhabi.
With this partnership, Zee5 Global and Lulu Exchange aim to jointly strengthen their presence in the Middle East.
The pandemic and the past few months of lockdown that forced people to stay indoors, has resulted in people trying new activities at home, beginning from cooking new dishes to exploring hidden talents. Likewise, some turned to gaming platforms to enhance their competitiveness. From taboo to mainstream recognition, Indian gaming has gained significant traction within the Indian entertainment industry. With a projected user base of more than 623 million gamers, this provides a significant boost to the entire gaming ecosystem within the Indian economy. This ecosystem comprises gamers across age groups, the game developers community, the designers, and lastly the investors and marketers, each of whom have an integral role of creating a state of the art, cutting edge games, concepts and offers for players. This potential market, and the waste talent pool, makes India one of the leading gaming markets amongst emerging global economies.
In spite of the growth potential, however, the industry faces sever challenges, especially misconceptions and taboo associated with adult gaming. Most parents and the average society, have a negative opinion regarding video games and the gaming industry, when associated with teen and adult gamers. Addressing these challenges and working towards creating an encouraging environment for growth and faster adoption of gaming for adults, holistic PR can help create a massive positive impact. Through effective use of PR and communication tools, Video game brands can leverage this current affinity towards the sector and use this to build upon a sustained growth plan for the sector.
Here are some misconception that PR can help change with holistic communication strategy:
1. Building a Positive Narrative: Although gaming was invented purely for the purpose of entertainment, it has been found to be a superior cognitive learning tool that can help enhance mental skills like decision making, hand eye coordination, mental aptitude, thinking limit, and overall mental reflexes. A few corporations, especially in the western countries, are actively adopting adult gaming for Brainstorming Activity and have noticed that it helps employees relax, while enhancing their ability to think out of the box, innovate and be agile. Effective PR can help build this narrative through relevant messaging and help clear the ‘couch potato entertainment only’ tag from gaming
2. Create a positioning: Every video game is published with a purpose and is usually created for a particular category of end-users. There is always an age and content rating that is clearly displayed to the buyer. Regardless of that, there needs to be a mature decision maker involved in the purchase of every video game. This is where the role of PR comes into play. Masses need to get educated about the industry to know which game they should allow their children to play and at which age. Similarly, creating a distinct market positioning for adult gaming is also vital so as to ensure there is transparency and credibility for brands and games. PR can help create this distinctive positioning within the gaming segments, thereby encouraging informed choices and clearer purchase decisions.
3. Driving a credible change and acceptance as a serious industry: Last but not the least, average Indians lack awareness about the phenomenal growth of the global gaming industry and the growing viewership related to the same. There is currently a mixed perception regarding gaming as a career option. Additionally, video games are wrongly said to hamper education and way of life. This is where PR can help to build a credible image for gaming as a serious industry with monetary rewards when explored as a career option. This will help to not only build mainstream career prospects, but also transform the gaming consumer mindset and drive faster adoption.
Regardless of the biased thoughts of many about the video games industry, soon the entire world will be looking at the education, knowledge transfer and way of life in the language of video games. A holistic PR and communication strategy can help these brands create a unique category in the market. PR also helps in changing perception by educating the mass about the gaming culture and how it can help in overall growth not only individually but also the whole economy.
Written by Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder Scenic Communication
NYF caught up with David Sable, WPP Senior Advisor, Advertising Hall of Famer, Carol H. Williams of Carol H. Williams Advertising and The Bowery Awards Executive Director, Scott Rose as The Bowery Awards first round of Grand Jury judging gets underway.
Keep reading to find out insider information on the Bowery Awards and the inspiration behind the launch of the competition honoring Independent creatives. Industry icon’s Williams and Sable share their thoughts on honoring creative freelancers. And find out why Ms. Williams is lending her name to the inaugural Carol H. Williams “Together for Better” Award.
Why launch The Bowery Awards in the middle of a pandemic?
Scott Rose: As Neil Gaiman said in that famous commencement speech, "when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art."
Our "art" is facilitating a great competition that puts the work of talented Creatives in front of a jury of their peers. In these tough times, as a small independent company, we didn't want to sit back. With all proceeds being donated to charity, The Bowery Awards was born out of the pandemic and our desire to help Creatives and NYC.
What was the inspiration for The Bowery Awards?
Scott Rose: Lauren Murray, the Associate Director of Advertising, having come from the world of freelance artisans, brought up how that community was not only struggling but would be growing with all of the unfortunate layoffs and furloughs that were happening. She thought we should set up a competition for freelance work where it wasn't competing in the same lanes as work done with the incredible budgets of huge companies and brands.
We are an international business, but we are New Yorkers, and we pride ourselves on that fact. Ellen Smyth, our CEO, decided that we would not only tap our network and facilitate the competition, but we would donate all proceeds to FEED THE FRONT LINES NYC.
Why are The Bowery Awards an important way to give freelance creatives a seat at the table?
Carol H. Williams: As a creative and a leader, I have seen through the years the contribution freelance creatives bring to the table. Often, they are not recognized for their truly authentic work. Freelancers are some of the most innovative creative people. To have them at the table and acknowledge their work that often goes unnoticed is a wonderful empowering feeling.
"The curtain is pulled back".
Why are independent creatives important within the agency mix?
David Sable: Independent Creatives, also known as Freelancers, have always been a mainstay of our business. I doubt there is an agency large or small who hasn’t or doesn’t work with Independents/Free lancers. Some of the larger agencies even have an infrastructure to manage a full roster of them, specialists in specific verticals: Pharma; Auto; B2B; CPG; Banks; Service: Retail, whatever.
They make us powerful by giving us variable staffing power. Yet often they remain anonymous behind the scenes contributing to the wins, often the key idea but not always central to the client or industry.
It's time for us to celebrate this critical mainstay of our industry. The Creatives who don’t always see the glory but help make it shine.
Your jury panels are world-class. Talk about the multi-disciplinary roster and how you were able to recruit such a prominent Executive Jury and Grand Jury?
Scott Rose: We needed a name and "voice" for the competition that would encapsulate the bootstrapping, DIY aesthetic of Freelancers. We racked our brains for that almost sigil-like name that would immediately tell you what you needed to know about the competition.
The Bowery is NYC's oldest street and has been home to decades of innovative, multi-disciplinary artists. Once we settled on aligning the competition with this iconic area, things started "popping" almost instantly.
With top professionals from Google, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Cardinal Health, and Jason Sosnoff, producer of multiple Robert De Niro and Al Pacino movies,among many, many more, I think we achieved our goal of putting together a world-class, multi-disciplinary jury. We have even had top CCOs reaching out asking to participate.
I would be remiss not to give a ton of credit to David Sable who has been instrumental in assembling our two world-class juries. He graciously opened his contact list and invited his legendary friends and colleagues including Carol H. Williams, Keith Reinhard, Helayne Spivak, Daisy Esposito, Martin Puris and Marvin Waldman. We’re thrilled David’s at the helm of the Bowery Awards Executive Jury.
How did you come up with the diverse categories within The Bowery Awards?
Scott Rose: We looked at the work that is being promoted online and tried to create fair and competitive lanes for it. We have groups of categories that judge purely the craft behind the work and groups that judge the totality of the piece. We also have some new categories that I'm excited about.
THE CAROL H. WILLIAMS ‘TOGETHER FOR BETTER’ AWARD will showcase the “Together for Better” category that accepts work in each category group that promotes unity and diversity. Carol, what inspired you to lend your name to a special award within the Bowery Awards that honors campaigns that promote unity and diversity?
Carol H. Williams: Bowery is infamous for being a hotbed of creativity and culture. A place where mavericks and free thinkers met, collaborated, and developed work that would eventually escape the city streets and influence the world. Honoring that spirit, The Bowery Awards is a competition for today’s creatives working independently in the commercial landscape. Because of the Bowery statement, I was honored to lend my name to such a special award "Together for Better". This award describes my journey in life.
Many organizations are good at hiring for diversity, but they have not yet figured out how to make the environment inclusive that is, create an atmosphere in which all people feel valued and respected and have access to the same opportunities.
At our best, our work is a social force, we desperately need new narratives that will provide alternatives to the older, more confining narratives. These new narratives must embrace the fragmentation and change that gives us and our communities more agency, acceptance, esteem, choice, and options while helping to orient us and calling us to more fully realize the potential that we all have.
Together we can gain superpower by embracing our similarities, difference, and creative integration.
What specific criteria will you be looking for when selecting an award-winning a campaign within the “Together for Better” categories?
Carol H. Williams:
- Empathy- fuels connection, it's the ability to understand another perspective so well that you are "feeling with people" rather than simply feeling for them, which is sympathy, and that drives them apart.
- How are they looking at things? Is there a change to seek to understand the other person?
- Creative abilities.
What changes are we seeing within the advertising industry that are a source of inspiration to you?
Carol H. Williams: The industry is changing the way they look at things. A higher emphasis is being placed on African Americans and people of color in general. No longer do they see people of color as a dollar sign but recognize their value. Today my agency is full of Hispanic, Asian, African American, and Caucasian people because I realized that subtle biases persist and lead to exclusion. It's about clueing into the in-group vs out-group dynamics. And resetting the in-group. My hope is the industry will use us as an example to follow. I'm inspired to see the industry ask the question; whose eyes are you looking through when you see the world?
What has the response been to the competition?
Scott Rose: Overall, the industry has embraced The Bowery Awards. The team has heard positive feedback from all around the globe. I think this positive endorsement from Gaëtan du Peloux, ECD, Marcel Paris says it all, “I truly think that this festival is a great idea because you can discover great ideas that you can only discover here. It’s different, fresh, not with an « agency » taste, so it’s definitely positive for everybody… This festival is a fantastic idea. You will have all my support for the years to come."
How has the competition expanded globally?
Scott Rose: All of our competitions have international judges and entrants, but what has been surprising is the amount of entries we've received from countries who haven't typically entered. In these divisive times, it's been great to see a global community coming together.
What is on the horizon for The Bowery Awards 2021?
Scott Rose: Based on the response to 2020's Bowery, the sophomore year will be bigger and better. I'll let you know how and why once we finish 2020s competition. Medalists will be announced at the end of November!
1. After India’s ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps there has been a surge for a plethora of short video platforms. Your Thoughts?
Rizzle launched in a world where TikTok and other apps were very much present and made strong progress in India and in the US. While most other short video platforms have focused on song and dance and track-based recording alone, Rizzle developed its own unique identity. Rizzle has channels and episodic play which makes it very suitable for the nano vertical web series. A sui generis feature on Rizzle, RSeries help creators bring mini vertical series in comedy, drama, mystery, and other genres.
With or without the ban, Rizzle has been and will be a unique player. The reason being we have several options for creating great talk shows - with B-roll images and videos, sound effects, intro animations, and daily prompts, creators can make professional talk show content in minutes. Prompts - a compilation of all the trending topics that help newbies on the app get startred- bring the community together in discussions. Rizzle is a unique player in short videos.
2.What kind of content is popular on Rizzle? What are the top trending hashtags, topics, etc.?
Rizzle welcomes all types of content as long as its original. As much as we love a good video, we insist all our creators to stick to high-quality original 'made on Rizzle' content. It not only enables us to curate the best videos for the feed but also enhances the overall appeal of the app. Comedy bits and bite-sized clips tend to be appreciated and requested a tad bit more, but as long as the concept is true and real, Rizzlians will shower with you with love. Hashtags and topics are always pertinent to the current times, be it political, pop culture, news or trending shows. We have a dedicated team that creates relevant prompts for our users to make videos. This ensures freshness and crispness across all relevant boards and topics.
3.Throw some light on the user base and the demographic of Rizzle?
Our users, Rizzilians, as they like to call themselves come from various backgrounds; be it actors or filmmakers, YouTubers or creators, stand-up artists or vloggers, musicians or DJs, everyone and anyone can be a part of our tribe. Rizzle supplies an ecosystem of support and resources necessary for creators to build content; from in-app design tools to licensed music and sound effects, Rizzle has a lucrative end-to-end model within its app. We are focused squarely on original, user-generated episodic content -- which nobody else is doing in the area. Thus, Rizzle is a space that welcomes anyone and everyone. We appreciate a good piece of original content.
4.Rizzle recently launched the “RSeries Originals” and “R360 Originals”. How has been the response?
So far, the response that we’ve received from the users is amazing! They like the concept and have already spinned many original mini web series on the platform. R360 Originals focuses on all things news, opinions, pop culture, and more. In this series of theme-based contests, reports about everything you deem important and share your perspective on them. Bring news in its rawest form & capture the world around you!
On the other hand, RSeries Originals is more about bringing out your inner improv talents. Create a script, act, & direct your original brainchild series - and get paid for it.
We recently launched RStudios, a virtual workshop for acting and dance classes to help enrich talent and cultivate it to the next level. This move aims to set Rizzle a class apart from other short video apps by going one step further to equip the creators with an opportunity to learn and grow.
5.What are the safety features you have introduced within the app?
At Rizzle, data security has been our top-most priority and will always be. However, we believe that charity begins at home and so, we have refrained from 'Chats' & 'Comments' features since the inception. Our decision to completely do away with a comments section comes at a juncture when social media platforms across the world are grappling with issues of user safety, especially when it comes to female content creators. 'Comment' sections on social media apps have inadvertently become a playground for bullying creators.
We have a strong 3-Strike Policy that “quarantines” an account for 48 hours followed by a permanent ban if any user violates the terms and conditions, supports nudity, or posts harassing videos. Rizzle.tv keeps the keyboard warriors and trolls away, and is focused on building a positive community that listens, speaks, argues, debates, and supports.
6.What are your plans for monetization and brand partnerships in India?
Our complete focus is towards creating a flawless product for the end users. As of now, we are determined to build the best short video app for the content creators. We are definitely tapping some amazing brand associations that are mutually beneficial but monetization isn’t our priority as of now.
7.What is the USP of Rizzle and how do you plan to enhance the in-app user experience?
Rizzle is a playground for people who want to create a name for themselves. It’s a storehouse of original content and we at Rizzle, are constantly focusing on creating a user-friendly, smooth, and feature-rich app that’s a trend-setter in the field of creative content. Our amazing team of engineers and marketers put in their best brains to make Rizzle flawless.
8.In terms of business operations, how big is the Rizzle team here in India? Any plans to set up more offices in the country going forward?
We are a team of more than 100 people and growing each day. Our Engineering team is completely based out of India along with the majority of our Marketing team. We have a small team working from the US as well and we’re always on the lookout for fresh talent to join us and make Rizzle the next big thing.