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Interview: Sav Evangelou, Executive Creative Director, Digitas UK

Neha S of BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Sav in an exclusive conversation during his short visit at ad:tech India.

We have seen almost the entire ad-world, smeared by the father of advertising industry- David Ogilvy. But it becomes no-less than a revelation when someone to the likes of Sav Evangelou, Executive Creative Director, Digitas UK brings up in his conversation his love for him along with a deep penchant for the digital medium. After all he is the iron-man behind the birth of world’s first hsbc.com and topgear.com.

A Co-founder of Networx and a name to reckon with in the brand content arena, Sav recently made a short visit to India as a speaker for India’s first ad:tech. Neha S of BestMediaInfo.com caught up with the man himself in an exclusive conversation, before he flew off to London.  Read the complete excerpts:

Q) You hold the thought that brands should understand to learn to play a vital role in consumer’s mind? But how do the marketers go about it?

I think today we are all in the condition that we consume media the way we want and how we want. If people are making a choice and are skipping media then the brands should learn to target people at right points and at right times. However, one good thing is that because you have lots of licences to introduce a brand to someone’s life, this may actually turn out to be an opportunity for the marketers in disguise. Infact over the years of experience of my life I have tried to figure out my top tenets as to how to go about it. They may become seven or eight as per the time, but they stand true almost in every case. (Read below for his top ten tenets)

Any such example wherein you have actually applied it at Digitas?

Offcourse. I will be talking the name of our automotive client in UK- Nissan. We just launched a campaign for the auto-giant and the sales grew by double. That particular campaign is inherently a social one that touches a multiple touch points and talks to the motivator. The campaign was immensely successful for the company because we found an insight into people’s life and tried to introduce the car into it.

But then beyond a point, how a marketer draws a line between ‘Interference advertising’ and ‘consumer engagement’?

I think brands need to remember that in order to play a significant role in the consumer lives, they need to be entertaining, significant and of relevance for and in the consumer lives. If your mind works in these three areas then you can’t be nuisance in their lives. But too much of tactics is definitely an interference. Brands need to have humility towards consumers otherwise they really just shut them out.

You are the force behind rebuilding the creative process a Digitas. What were the insights of the procedure?

I think we had to go to the basics. We were pressing too much on the role of production in the agency. We didn’t have a strong voice. And the approach style of adopting one to many in a one-to –one environment doesn’t really work. Also in a conventional way we had to look at how do we approach the clients and simultaneously have a deep psychological motivator as to how do we motivate the people through the right tools. We also structured the departments to generate, consolidate and strengthen ideas, because ideas are what make an agency.

You being at the helm of a digital agency, how different is your creative thought process as compared to an offline medium?

I think we begin with similarity. Thus some of the behavioural mediums are same, but the difference is that in offline the messages are being pushed to people. And I completely agree that it still has vital role to play. But in the digital world it’s not just one to one, rather its two ways. There is a strong point of differentiation between the two wherein the digital agencies develop a deep understanding of brands.

But then we can’t ignore the fact, that still digital is treated just as salt to sprinkle on your dish for that ‘Xing’ factor? How do you deal with it and most importantly convince the clients?

There are number of factors attached to it. But I believe that my role in this is to understand the market as its really booming at a very fast rate. Not just from the point of investments but also in terms of technology. Thus acquiring knowledge and pioneering skills is an important part of it.  but all of it is very exciting.

You have worked with many clients in the past including Samsung, Snickers, Nissan, P&G brands, Delta, Samsung and Shell et al.  Which one has been the most challenging for you?

I would admit that almost all brands have been equally difficult to work on. As more opportunities you see to develop a brand the more pressure it creates on you. But if I have to pick one then it would be a pen company wanting to really make a big impact in the football cup. The challenge was that we had to make maximum noise with a limited budget against the huge marketing investments done by the sponsor brand of the world cup. But we managed a good show eventually.

You have been the role model for aspirants in the ad-world but who remains your ideal?

I may sound cliché, but the book written by David Ogilvy remains an inspiration. It’s an old book and simple, but it’s like a bible. And every time you read the book, it helps in understanding the relationship and how brands behave.

The ten tenets are as follows:-

Number 10:  “is it a step too far?” Number 9:  “why bother”? Number 8: “you’ve been told before” Number 7:  “don’t delay” Number 6: “they’re behind you” Number 5: “it doesn’t mean it’s yours” Number 4: “fingers off the copy and paste button” Number 3: “it’s a bit like Quantum Mechanics” Number 2: “take a deep breath” Number 1: “do you really believe me? Neha@BestMediaInfo.com

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