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How the two-year-old S4 Capital is giving established agencies a run for their money

The Martin Sorrell-led S4 Capital has been able to carve a niche space for itself in a crowded market. The company believes its tech capabilities and Sorrel’s leadership is helping it strengthen its position. Poran Malani, Director, talks to BestMediaInfo.com about the agency’s journey and its future growth strategy

Poran Malani

Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital is attaining new heights in India. In two years of its launch, it has expanded from a team of 30 to more than 200 hundred employees. And despite the pandemic hitting the sector hard, the agency is likely to increase its total workforce to 250 in the next two months.

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Talking about the vision with which S4 Capital is expanding in India, the agency’s Director Poran Malani said, “We are trying to build a fence of excellence in India in terms of production, UI, UX, and we will serve the other markets from here.”

Malani said while India is commercially advantageous, skillsets here are the best in the world and the agency can scale them.

“The agency is at a unique position where we have a huge amount of skillsets available to scale newer ones. As we grow internationally, present in 30+ countries in 40+ locations, it makes sense to scale their skillsets. So that’s what the idea of the hub is,” Malani said.

Business for the agency has been very strong globally and in India. Both Mighty Hive and Media Monks, part of S4 Capital, are performing above their targets in India, claimed Malani.

He said, “Our businesses will grow as the companies grow internationally with scaled skillsets. It’s of extremely strategic importance to empower operations of S4 Capital.”

The agency plans to fulfil its pre-Covid targets in post-Covid times as there will be a lot of offline engagement. “Next year looks like it is going to be stronger,” Malani said.

According to Malani, Mighty Hive and Media Monks work very closely together. To tell which one is doing better is difficult because the clients are being interacted together, there are specific specialities in the services both offer but the operations are mostly together.

Malani said deep data check, understanding the equation of content that’s around data and making sure both are integrated is the agency’s focus and that’s what the market needs right now.

According to Malani, the difference between other agencies and S4 Capital that it understands the knowledge of data check. “The differentiation we offer is that we have a deep understanding of the big knowledge of data check, which changes over time. It’s so convenient to deliver engaging material for consumers and brands. Unless you have a deep understanding of the different platforms in tech, you can’t come up with differentiating impressive work, which remains our focus.”

When it comes to production, an integrated strategy is desperately needed in the market, Malani said.

A huge amount of technology invasion has come out in production and it will continue to invest in those to increase the production cycle.

The agency has built a strong creative group and plans to continue hiring as its business grows. “We are not just hiring from traditional agencies, we are hiring from tech companies, from production companies and brands,” said Malani.

Malani said technology giants have become a very important part of the marketing industry. Clients today are ready to change their practices by adding technology to it. “Our clients look at things slightly differently, everybody wants to transform quick. They are looking for technology, new installations for the maximum spend and that has opened up a market for us.”

In the past eight months, the agency has realised that ad and marketing agencies need to be extraordinarily flexible with what they serve and deliver and how do they process it.

“Events, conferences had to migrate online and become technology-driven more creatively and interactively than it would have been a year ago. Well, money has gone from one area but it’s going to others. So, it depends on the agency’s flexibility and ability to identify those and have the expertise to fulfil it. We are not the four holding companies that sit back and say look it’s not a good situation out there, so let’s just hunk it down. We are saying it is a bad situation out there and what is there that we can do? How can we awaken our skills and what solutions can we bring for our clients?” said Malani.

The agency has clients in the retainer format as well as on a project basis. “As a newer organisation, we can be more flexible. Somewhere the clients feel they need to pay in how their system works and so we don’t insist on anything,” said Malani.

The entrepreneurial approach has worked very well for S4 Capital. In certain areas, it has witnessed increased growth.

Malani said even though the country has come out of lockdown in June, the economy is still slow. People are slowly getting back to the old normal but confidence isn’t completely back.

“Fear will not go away by this year or next year even when the vaccines come out. It will take a long time to administer that vaccine and get consumer confidence back. Feeling safe will take even longer. As an industry, we have to realise where the implications, where we can concentrate and where we can’t,” Malani said.


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