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Non-digital mediums will continue to play a significant role for brands, says Aditya Kanthy of DDB Mudra group

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, the CEO and MD of DDB Mudra Group says despite the growth of digital, the role non-digital mediums play for brands will continue to thrive. He also shares the agency's growth plans for next year

Aditya Kanthy

After almost six months of slow business, DDB Mudra Group has seen a decent uptick in the last two months.

The improvement in the agency’s media business has been largely led by increased spends in digital media. 

22feet Tribal Worldwide, the digital agency under DDB Mudra Group, has been leading the growth. 

Talking about the projections for next year, Aditya Kanthy, CEO and MD of DDB Mudra Group, said, "We are expecting to grow at the projected rate of the industry next year across each of our advertising, digital and media businesses."


What have been the key learnings from the pandemic? 

It has been a tough and challenging time for all of us in all aspects of the business. In the first few months, as the scale of the problem started sinking in, it threw everyone off. But the ability to be able to gather yourself, understand what’s going on, hold hands and together work through a problem that we have never experienced before was remarkable. This belief in people, culture and the power of great teams coming together to overcome odds is what stands out for me.

This kind of spirit that we could see across the world also played out in its own way at the agency. Within four weeks of the lockdown, we had from start to finish, conceived and executed the largest brand launch of the country for Disney+ Hotstar. Another stellar example of work that reflects the change in culture the lockdown brought with it was for Stayfree, which normalises the first-period experience for every young girl at home with all family members.

How has the recovery been in the festive season?

We have seen improvement in the last two months with the IPL coinciding with the festive season. People have understood the need of being responsible and are finding ways to reengage with work, leisure, entertainment, consumption and learning.

There is a definite improvement in our media business led largely by increased spends in digital media. 22feet Tribal Worldwide has also been doing a lot of work in making our clients ready for a world where people are interacting, engaging and buying more through digital channels. These shifts have been integral to the recovery.

In 2020 you were hoping your revenue from digital to likely be more than 40%. Have you achieved that?

2020 numbers are in and around the 40% mark. There are some brands where the business is built on digital platforms, where digital technologies are at the heart of the product and experience. Whether it's Disney+Hotstar, Spotify, Meesho, those businesses are most definitely growing, and we see a tailwind for those categories. Apart from that, well-established leaders in other categories have taken these changes seriously and shaped their marketing investments accordingly. This doesn’t suggest non-digital spends are not important, they still matter and will play a big role in the future.

There has been a natural adoption of consumption of content on digital platforms and media investments have followed. We have broadly taken the direction we had planned for and the exact number would be between 40-50%, which will continue to grow.

What will be your focus areas for 2021? 

I doubt there would be a single business this year that could say that their plans for 2020 were on track. As we’ve talked about before, there are lots to learn and change. But the fundamentals will stay the same.

We will continue to deliver on our promise of creating impactful, effective work for clients. Be it through powerful storytelling, media investments, experience design, CRM or e-commerce; designing for digital behaviours will gain prominence.

A good example of this is our recent work for McDonald’s that celebrates the brand’s unwavering commitment to serving safely in a changing world.

What is the overall growth you are expecting next year and what will be the strategy to drive that growth?

We have had a good year in terms of new business and are confident of carrying this momentum in 2021. Aspects of the strategy that will drive the growth have been discussed earlier, from our client mix to talent priorities. We are expecting to grow at the projected rate of the industry next year across each of our advertising, digital and media businesses.

Many industry leaders have spoken about different shapes of recovery. How do you see things unfolding at this stage?

Over the last two-three months, we have seen optimism in our clients across different categories. Companies that were hit badly in the second quarter are making a comeback, feeling a little bit surer that consumers are willing to engage in ways that they were not earlier in the year.

What we do need to be cautious about is the extent of damage that this has done to the economy and that recovery will take time. It is inextricably linked to the pace at which a vaccine reaches people and the access to it won’t be easy for a large country like ours.

Any new acquisitions in the pipeline to strengthen the agency's capabilities?

We are always on the lookout for capabilities that would help strengthen us. But at this point in time, I have no updates for you on this subject. In the immediate future, there is enough for us to do in ensuring that we are maximising the potential of the capabilities that we already have in the DDB Mudra Group.

We want to invest in and grow great creative talent. It's at the heart of everything we do. If we get that right and create the right culture, the outcomes will follow.


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