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We are magicians because we create something out of nothing: Naveen Gaur, President, Lowe Lintas

Lowe Lintas Delhi is a star in the MullenLowe Lintas ecosystem. Naveen Gaur, President, Lowe Lintas, takes BestMediaInfo through his journey, what makes the Delhi office tick and his future plans

Roshni Nair | Mumbai | October 12, 2016

Naveen Gaur Naveen Gaur

“It wasn’t meant to be a Father’s Day campaign,” says Naveen Gaur, President, Lowe Lintas, when asked about the widely successful Google campaign of Lowe Lintas Delhi. “The video was supposed to be a celebration of Bollywood and the wide popularity it enjoys in India but it so happened that Father’s Day was just a day or two after we released the film and people thought it was a Father’s Day campaign.”

Lowe Lintas Delhi is one of the leading offices in the MullenLowe Lintas ecosystem, one of the recent ones from their stable being the Google ‘The Hero–A Bollywood Story’ film. Even after losing big names such as Maruti and Micromax from its roster, the Delhi office has continued to grow by acquiring new clients and churning out quality work. Gaur, who had joined Lowe Lintas as Executive Director (Delhi), takes us through the journey. Excerpts:

 

There have been a lot of recent business wins for Lowe Lintas, Vivo, HouseFull, Pernod Ricard, Travel Triangle to name a few. These are brands from diverse categories. Which category do you find the most challenging to work for and which do you enjoy?

We have got a mix of businesses that we have acquired. So, we have got HouseFull, which is a furniture brand with strong presence on the online platform. Then there is Travel Triangle, which is purely into travel. And last year, we won around 11 brands from Pernod Ricard. Our expertise in mobile is such that when we said bye to Micromax, in less than a month various mobile players were talking to us. We took on Vivo because we thought it will be a good challenger brand -- it had the ambition of sponsoring IPL and wanted to make something big out of it. Google has been a very big one for us. We have created some great communication and something which is so impactful, so big and reflects the society that embeds the Lowe Lintas tonality of creating a movement. That is kind of work that we do. From traditional marketing companies to e-commerce based clients, we have everything. There is no possible category that we don’t have. That is the journey; that is what I have inherited. That is what people like R Balki and others have created and we are only taking that forward.

The kind of people we have are very adaptable. So, as long as the brand has the potential to do something big and has big ambitions, that is what excites us. It doesn’t matter what category it is from.

The Delhi office is considered one of the leading offices in the MullenLowe Lintas Group ecosystem. Why is that? What is it that works differently here?

Yes, Delhi has been a very important part for the group but every office has its own strengths. Delhi is a very different market. It is very different from say a Bombay or a Bangalore. We have always played to the strength of the market and are very good at adapting. So, what the market requires, the focus, what could work in that particular market place is something that we understand and have been able to leverage well.

Right from the beginning I think the one strength of Delhi is that we have taken small brands and made them big. If you look at the history, Havells has been with us since the day it launched. Then there are others like LG, Maruti Alto, Micromax, Real from Dabur, etc. The strength that we have is having the entrepreneurial culture in Delhi. Clients are also very entrepreneurially driven here, they may not be entrepreneurs, they may be corporates but their spirit is of entrepreneurship. They are very dynamic and that is our strength and we have mirrored ourselves with the clients. Also, the important thing is we invest very heavily in clients and we link our future to the client’s future. Very few agencies will say this but at Lowe Lintas we really feel the pain as well as joy for the client and that is the reason we are able to invest and create successes one after the other and that has worked very beautifully for us.

 

A lot of structural changes have been happening within the agency. Lowe Lintas + Partners was rebranded as MullenLowe Lintas Group and a competing agency, Mullen Lintas, was created. Why was this necessary?

The business environment is dynamic today and we recognise that. Today we are so big that if we are not dynamic, then we will not be able to grow further and we recognise that. Starting from Joseph George, the CEO of the Group, there is always this feeling of what is that one new thing or offering or news or product that we can give to the market? And that is what drives our growth. We are a driven agency and that is our culture.

What are your future plans for Lowe Lintas Delhi?

I want Lowe Delhi to be the happiest place to work for. I strongly believe unhappy minds and heart cannot consistently create the work that would stir someone’s soul. While the low attrition rates strongly endorse that we are a far more delightful place compared to many others, I would strive to make it much better. Our atmosphere has helped us keep our focus and sense of direction and an even better atmosphere would just make us excel even further. Normally agencies think, ‘does this make business sense?’, ‘is this the right investment?’ We have a completely different thinking. Be happy, do great work and everything else will follow. But this philosophy is a bit cyclical and for it to truly be magical, the cycle needs to be a sustained one and that’s what I focus on.

You joined Lowe Lintas as Executive Director (Delhi) from McCann Erickson Worldgroup. How has that journey been?

We have grown almost 300% from the time I joined around six-and-a-half years back. When I came, I spent time understanding Lowe Lintas because it is a big brand. It has its own ideology, philosophy. For me, to become Lowe Lintas and imbibe that culture was the first part and once I did that I started with simple things, one step at a time and doing things right. From the time I have been Executive Director and now that I am President, the only difference is that I am doing more of the same. But yes, when I wake up in the morning I ask myself the question, what is that one new thing we will do today, what is that one new discussion we will have today, what is the one new idea that we will try and find for clients today? That is my philosophy as a person. If you don’t do new things every day, you will be left behind and we try and find a new angle, a new conversation every day.

The recent tribute to Bollywood by Lowe Lintas for Google was extremely well received. How do you think digital is changing the game today in advertising?

It became big because it had a powerful idea that resonated with the consumers and the power of that idea was actually transferred to the power of the viewer who saw it and started sharing and it took a life of its own. Everyone talks about digital and all brands, publishers, media houses and content creators recognise the power of digital. The scope is huge and digital is only growing. I think everybody is trying to understand it and master it but there is a long way to go for everyone. If you are not there in digital, you are passé, you don’t have a place in the future. Like any other agency, we have invested in digital. What we are trying to do is getting digital to be a culture within Lowe Lintas. The power of the idea is going to get transmitted through various mediums and the understanding of that will still reside with the creative person, the planner and the account management people. These are the guys who are going to take digital forward. Like in traditional advertising agencies there were the regular guys and then there was the media and films and so on, in the same way you will need certain digital specialists. But that digital idea is still be created by the advertising agency and that is our belief and that is what we are doing. If you look at some of our work for OLX or Google, you will realise that we are the creators of digital content, we are the agency that is creating the idea and then putting it in the medium whereby we have the understanding of the medium.

 

Consumers have become too critical on social media about everything. Does it restrict creative freedom as there is the ever looming threat of a backlash on brands?

Not at all. I think digital is a beautiful thing. For once, the consumer has a voice and brands must listen to it. If you do something wrong then obviously the consumer is going to turn the back on you. In fact on many forums now consumers are telling brands what is wrong and brands are listening, so it is a two-way process now. Now consumers have a voice and they are talking back to you and by doing so brands are getting more nimble and dynamic. It is becoming more collaborative now.

Who do you consider your role model in advertising?

More than role model I would say my hero is R Balki. He possesses a fantastic mind; you just can’t even begin to explain the beauty of his mind, the ability with which he thinks and I have had the good fortune to work with him.

Where do you think Indian advertising stands on a global stage?

Why are we looking at the global stage? I would be looking at the global stage if I was doing work for global. I am not working for global, I am only doing work for the Indian consumer and we are doing that very well. We are culturally a very different market. We have only been independent for 70 years so the market is still evolving. My advertising works beautifully for me in India. I don’t think too much about the global space, we are not even in that game. It doesn’t matter whether it gets celebrated in the international circuit, as long as the Indian audience is enjoying our work.

Where do you think advertising is headed?

I don’t think anyone can predict the future of advertising but the one thing that is for sure is that the idea is eternal. The idea was celebrated 500 years ago, it is being celebrated today and it will be celebrated 100 years from now. How and where you put that idea is going to change. So in an advertising agency as long as there is idea creation, it is going to stay forever. The power of idea is eternal and it is going to stay forever, but how it is rendered and how it gets delivered is going to change.

How does a day in your life look like?

I start my day by first going through my e-mails, then going through all the notifications, how the world changed while I was sleeping and then read the news. After that, I meditate for about 20 minutes every day. After that, it is just the phone and thinking about what is that one new thing I will do today. Once I come to office, if I am not starting my day with client meetings, I review the work and strategy to see what is going out of the agency. Also, there is one part of the day where I like to have interesting conversations. I believe that you gain a lot of knowledge today by talking to people. Conversations are very important so I try and spend some of my time doing that. I finish my day by 7-7:30 and do it all over again.

What are your hobbies?

My hobby is observing people -- what is giving people happiness and what is not, things people react to, things people don’t react to. Advertising is all about staying connected and this is a way of staying connected. I also read a lot. Following global economies and certain economists is something that I like because I think it makes you see the future a little better.

One thing you like about advertising?

The ability to do something new every day. It is a new challenge every day. It is finding something new and then creating something out of it. We are actually magicians because we create something out of nothing. The challenge of creating something new and seeing how it will do in the market is what drives me.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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