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Today, the value exchange from consumer’s side is more than a brand’s: Razorfish’s Jonny Stark

The SVP, APAC and Head of Brand & Real-Time Marketing, Razorfish, talks about how creativity is about engaging consumers in real time, which plays a vital role in the changing face of digital

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | April 16, 2015

Charulata-Ravi-Kumar-and-Jonny-Stark Charulata Ravi Kumar and Jonny Stark

Digital today has emerged from the sidelines to hold a prominent place in brands’ marketing strategies. Words like real-time conversations and real-time engagement have become top priority of brands and agencies. Social, big data, programmatic and native are the buzz words in the digital marketing space.

Razorfish, a full service digital agency, has been guiding their clients to navigate the unknown, drive the change and transform business with their unique blend of technology, creativity and media.

BestMediaInfo caught up with Jonny Stark, Senior Vice-President, Asia Pacific and Head of Brand & Real-Time Marketing, Razorfish, and Charulata Ravi Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Razorfish India, who shared their views on how Indian brands are leveraging digital, Razorfish’s focus areas and the road ahead. Excerpts:

You spoke about engagement and creativity in real-time during Goafest 2015. How do you think the key focus of the agencies and brands have changed with the advent of digital?

Jonny Stark: Looking at the way digital marketing is growing, there needs to be a collective effort of understanding what the brand’s core essence and their consumers’ needs are. We need to focus a lot more on how to engage with the consumers rather than just disseminating what the brands want to say.

How, according to you, can an agency keep its brand’s core audience engaged in today’s ever changing and evolving digital world?

Jonny Stark: We have been talking about value exchange for quite some time now. But today, there is a shift in terms of value exchange, as in today the value exchange from the consumer’s side is more than that of a brand’s side. Hence, we need to genuinely understand what value a consumer would get out of the communication activity. A brand can build a strong connect with its consumers through various interesting conversations on social media, which can help a brand build stronger relationships and a strong brand connect.

What is your observation on the Indian digital agencies and their way of working?

Jonny Stark: It is great to see the kind of work that Indian agencies are producing. This shows how Indian market is growing and evolving every year. There are some great campaigns being created by the Indian agencies. The agencies are seen steadily invading people who are passionately bringing in global ways of thinking and creating outstanding work for their brands. The best example is the way Nike ads are being produced. Also, the concept of moving on from 360 degree marketing to 365 days of communication should be the key concern not just in India, but globally.

What are Razorfish’s core capabilities?

Jonny Stark: Razorfish’s key focus areas are strategic consulting, experience design, brand building, technology platforms, data services, retail/ commerce and media services that enable transformational work for clients.

We have been seeing a lot of reshuffling happening in Razorfish India. How important is the Indian market for you?

Jonny Stark: The Indian market is one of the strategic and important markets for us. We have always considered India as a market that is rich in terms of accepting any kind of technology. What is happening in other parts of the world now, Indian audiences have already experienced the same before. For example, the use of mobile.

So, what are your plans?

Charulata Ravi Kumar: The last one and a half years were only about consolidating our presence in the Indian market as we wanted to settle down and put our team in the right order with the right vision and mission. So, the plan is to further strengthen our team and Razorfish’s core business areas in the Indian market. We have already managed to get some big clients like Maruti, Tourism New Zealand, Eureka Forbes, McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz USA, Microsoft, Nike China, Unilever and Uniqlo.

The focus is to add more such clients to our kitty, who are serious about transforming their businesses.

How have Indian brands coped up with digital marketing vis-à-vis their international counterparts?

Charulata Ravi Kumar: There are around 25-30 per cent of clients who are really serious about this transformation and are showing a lot of interest. We still have a lot brands that are still not thinking on those lines. It is important to create a strong command among the remaining brands about the way they can leverage social media to reach out to their target audience in a better way.

Social, big data, programmatic and now native are the buzz words in the digital marketing space. Do you think most agencies and marketers have understood these words and are using them to their advantage?

Jonny Stark: Yes, these are quite a few important terms for the agencies nowadays. I feel that agencies and brands both are coping in those areas while there are few brands that have already started tapping this industry.

Apart from India, what are your key markets?

Jonny Stark: Razorfish’s team of 3,000+ experts span 25 regions, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US.

How was the year 2014 for Razorfish?

Jonny Stark: It was great year, full of new learning and experiments globally. We managed to create a strong command in various markets.

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