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Traditional agencies will be left behind if they don’t think digital, says Isobar’s Gopa Kumar

The Executive Vice-President of Isobar says creative agencies must buckle up to take on the digital challenge. He says brands should only create video content only when required as videos for everything doesn’t meet any objective

Gopa Kumar

To keep pace with digital agencies, traditional creative agencies must start thinking digital if they don’t want to be left behind, feels Gopa Kumar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar.

“Digital will become the centre point of creative communication in the future. And to keep pace with the digital agencies, the creative agencies need to scale up and start thinking digital. Some of them are doing it and some are not. Creative agencies need to gear up or else they will be left behind. Everybody can co-exist,” Kumar said in an interview with

The game of communication and digital agencies are getting more prominence. One could easily conclude this from the recent merger of WPP agencies VML and Y&R and Wunderman and JWT, where the digital arms are given more power and value than their creative arms.

A lot of creative agencies have begun thinking digital first and Kumar is not shying away from the increased competition as well.

He said, “Increase in competition is fine. Any sort of competition that helps to deliver the best to the clients is welcome. We are also not just a digital agency. First, we develop an idea that is medium-agnostic. We don’t mind if the competition is JWT, Ogilvy or any other digital agency. We have to deliver the best.”

Kumar said Indian brands were yet to accept the global trend of creating a long-form content, which is proving to deliver better results. “Internationally, long-form content is taking more than 30-45 second ads for the brands’ storytelling. But when it comes to India, a lot of brands are still reluctant to experiment with long-form content and are asking agencies to stick to 30-45 second ads, said Kumar.

He said, “Internationally everyone is focusing on long-form content very clearly. Some long-form content is getting created in India, but clients are not willing to invest in that form of content. Clients are asking us to stick to 35-40 seconds; nobody is actually willing to create a two-minute-long content.”

Giving the example of Hyundai’s #BrilliantMoments campaign that celebrated 20 years of the car-maker in India, Gopa said its long-form narrative, creativity and engaging storytelling impressed him. A lot more brands should experiment with long-form content as it engages with the consumers more.

While there is a growth in video consumption in India, too much of it is also negating the whole point of doing it. When there are a plethora of brand videos available for the consumers, it becomes confusing and difficult to recollect the brand attached to the videos. Therefore, it is important to make sure a brand produces videos only when needed.

“The objectives of the brand and the brief of the campaign given by the brand will decide if video content is needed. In recent times, so much video is being generated that nothing stands out in my mind. Some of the video content looks so similar,” said Kumar.

Talent is one big problem agencies face. Fetching good talent and retaining them is a problem. Maintaining their quality is even more difficult. Kumar believes the issue is more of demand and supply in the market. Kumar said, “Suddenly there was a huge spurt in the demand of talent in digital agencies because everything was becoming digital. But not many people are looking for quality. Demand is huge and supply is less. People are getting jobs without having a real understanding of things.”

Kumar went on to say that from people’s point of view, they are not looking for long-term. They look for some experience and then move on to another job. From talent’s point of view, people are very young and want to achieve things in life as soon as possible and they believe that frequent changing of jobs will help them reach a particular goal.

He pointed out that organisations should have proper checks and balances in place. They should check the person’s work tenure at previous organisations and then decide to hire them.

“Another reason from the organisational point of view could possibly be that people are not willing to give newer people a chance. A lot of times in organisations, people are not putting efforts and time in training upcoming talent,” he said.

Kumar said that to curb the problem of talent at an organisational level, training programmes should be conducted across levels. “Organisations need to be engaged with its people throughout the year to help them overcome their challenges, fulfil aspirations and be interested in their career.”

Being hopeful for the coming times, Kumar said, “With new institutes teaching courses and brushing skills of people in digital, improve things will automatically at the entry level. I am seeing that happen but it will still take some time.”

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