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Brands following trends a shining example of lazy creativity, says atom Network's Abhik Santara and Yash Kulshrestha

The top brass of atom Network says becoming hybrid isn't an option for agencies any more as clients want one-stop solutions for content, digital, technology and media. They say brands that force their agencies to follow trends don't believe in originality

Abhik Santara and Yash Kulshrestha

No client is loyal to their agency anymore and if you don't provide them hybrid solutions, they may seek other partners, said Yash Kulshrestha, National Creative Director, atom Network. 

Speaking on the shifts in agency models, Kulshrestha said, “Hybrid shouldn't be an option anymore for agencies across the spectrum. The competition is getting fierce. No client is loyal to agencies anymore. If you don't offer hybrid services to your clients, someone else will.”  

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Sharing his predictions on the trends that will dominate marketing and advertising in 2021, Kulshrestha said, "We'll see more innovative and creative ways of marketing a brand in the gaming domain. There is a crazy opportunity to create some stellar award-winning campaigns using the gaming platform."

"We also hope in 2021, agencies will refuse to create 'trending posts', and brand managers will stop forcing agencies to follow a format. Advertising thrives on originality. Brands following trends/formats are a shining example of lazy creativity from agencies and poor management from the clients," he added. 

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Kulshrestha said that 2021 may also witness the rise of several brave brands.  "People, brands or celebrities are all tired of online trolling and facing the heat of faceless ideologists. In 2021, we will see the rise of brave brands in India. Fearless, opinionated, and informed will be their way of life, and they'll attract similar thinking customers." 

Explaining how he sees client-agency relationship evolving, Kulshrestha said, "When a client and an agency see each other as growth partners, they have lesser things to complain. Similarly, agencies need to be more ethical and transparent. If the agency leadership makes cameos in the business, why will the client pay for their salaries?”

atom Network on a strong growth trajectory 

atom network, an independent ad agency launched earlier this year, has managed to win 13 new businesses in the last seven months of its existence. Taking about the agency's launch during the pandemic, Abhik Santara, Director and CEO, atom Network, said, “We grew a lot more than what we anticipated."

Santara said the agency has converted many businesses as clients were looking for agencies that could help them manage immediate business performance without losing out on the core brand equity.

atom network has set aside two goals for itself — first is to focus on the quality of work, and second is how well it manages to become business partners to its clients.

According to Santara, the agency never wants to get typecast in its creative output. “We don’t want atom to be known for producing a ‘certain kind of work’. Creativity is not about doing the same thing over and over again — and that is the guiding force at atom.”

Kulshrestha said atom network is creating TV campaigns, unique digital experiences, designing identities, pitching to OTTs, proposing creative-tech solutions.

“We're here for a piece of the pie, not for a sliver of a slice. We are putting our best foot forward and improving every day. We would love to make big, medium or small agencies uncomfortable,” said Kulshrestha.

Santara said a good part about being independent is that there is a flexibility to manage the agency’s P&L, re-adjust costs and variables. “The targets are set by us and not by people sitting in London, Singapore or New York. We don’t have to make our people starve to pay back 80% of our profit, irrespective of our performance.”

The agency believes in becoming business partner to its clients rather than doing one film, one digital campaign without having a preview to the larger business goals.

“We want to make our Delhi and Bangalore offices a bit stronger in 2021, while continuing the momentum in Mumbai,” Santara said.

The agency has clients across multiple categories and most of them have mandated with integrated duties. They manage a few brands of a global FMCG giant, a homegrown FMCG brand, a Silicon Valley-funded Fintech brand, a brand from the largest business group in India catering to farmers, a large edtech, university brand and a gaming company.

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