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VMLY&R looking at double-digit growth in 2020

In an interaction with, the CEO of VMLY&R says, "Our width of offerings apart from advertising; platforms experiences and technology, data solutions, commerce solutions, digital transformation consultancy have shielded us from the larger effects of a slowdown”

It happened last year when WPP announced the creation of a new agency, VMLY&R, uniting two leading brands (VML and Y&R) to deliver a contemporary, fully integrated digital and creative offering to clients.

Anil K Nair

“A fusion of creativity, culture and technology has come together with the merger. It pertains to what an agency of the future ideally should be, if one can bring these three pieces into play in equal measures,” said Anil K Nair, CEO, VMLY&R.

The agency has completed a year and is optimistic about double-digit growth in the second year.

“Because of our differentiated offerings, we will be able to match the industry standards of growth.”

Data-driven marketing practice and solutions, CX practice (customer experience) and creative commerce solutions enabling brands to maximise commerce for both D2C and marketplaces will be the three major growth-driving areas. “All the above finally culminate in ideas and creativity at the last mile to bring them to life,” he adds.

According to Nair, the vision of the agency has been to create an experience company that can satisfy the multi-screen world of today, where brand monologues are changing into dialogues. From just storytelling to story living. A company that can help marketers and businesses in today’s connected world. Communication and content which is like a stream of consciousness, always on and flowing 24x7.

 “We call ourselves a ‘connected consumer company’, that understands the interactive nature of creativity, consumer culture, data and technology to engage with consumers in the most effective and interesting ways,” he said.

According to him, the agency’s ability of understanding and doing these three things together in a correct manner is a big differentiator.

 The agency’s core strength is its people, work and its ability to deliver solutions ranging from traditional strategic brand-building to customer experience design, technology platforms and commerce —all backed with a solid data-driven thinking and methodology.

Mahindra Swaraj, Heinz, Marico, IDBI Federal, BigBazaar, Bajaj, Ford, Pantaloons, Pepsico are some of its key clients.

Speaking on the focus areas, Nair said, “Our focus area is the connected consumer experience journey, which is an end-to-end solution that starts from strategy and design thinking. This then leads to mapping of customer personas, pathways, touch points and experience interventions. This can be across multiple online-offline touch points. But what is important is the need for a coherent seamless brand voice across these multiple experiences.”

 Many marketers complain that agencies in the country haven’t yet understood technology and data and thus are incapable of providing unbiased perspective on tools and technology to brands.

Speaking on the topic, Nair said, “I think the problem arises when a brand goes to multiple agencies and ends up buying bits and bobs of products. What could be interesting is to look at this challenge from the lens of a ‘seamless consumer experience’.”

According to Nair, every brand needs to first define their ideal consumer experience and evaluate the platforms that can deliver the experience for them in a cost-effective manner. All platforms have their strengths and weaknesses but it is important that agencies partner with the marketers to ensure that it help them choose the right technology platforms and help them through the on-boarding process. And by always being the champion of the consumers’ voice through such a process.

“The questions we ask most of the brands that we work with are: How prepared are you as a brand for this interactivity? Do you have a platform, processes and technology to effect such an interaction? Are you sweating your data assets enough to know enough about your consumer to effect such conversations?” he asked.

The agency has presence in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai and very soon in Bangalore as well.

The agency has created mini centres of excellence. Mumbai has design thinking, creative leadership and data, Delhi has technology expertise and Chennai has the agency’s platform capabilities.

VMLY&R is handling work for APAC region out of India. The agency delivers large integrated campaigns for Heinz in Indonesia and some commerce collaborations for Singapore and China.

“We have a fantastic leadership team with Venkatagiri Rao leading the creative charge, Saurabh Mathur who heads customer experience, Sujay Kar who leads commerce practice, Ajay Ravindran who drives planning and connections and Alpa Dedhia and Amandeep Singh who heads the business side of things. We are looking at strengthening this team further,” said Nair.

The agency is looking at acquisitions that can help in pushing the bar in its focus areas of CX, data-driven marketing solutions, etc.

Being part of a team that had built the earlier company Law & Kenneth Communications into one of the largest independent agencies in India, Nair brings in an entrepreneurial experience and drive and a start-up mentality. “Which is a good trait to have kept myself sharp and honest to the task at hand,” he said.

Speaking on the slowdown, Nair said, “Our width of offerings apart from advertising; platform experiences and technology, data solutions, commerce solutions and digital transformation consultancy have shielded us from the larger effects of a slowdown.”

Nair looks at VMLY&R in its new avatar as a one-year-old start-up agency and he thinks what is more important is to evangelise what they do, its philosophies and unique style of brand building.

He shares few marketing trends of 2020

  1. Consolidation: Marketers are taking a more serious look at the digital play going beyond social media marketing to a more holistic, result-oriented, organic way of brands looking at digital.
  2. Being more experiential: Many brands are changing its focus from merely looking at digital as a communication channel to that being a medium to deliver a fantastic customer experience. It can be using data, CRM or multiple technological methodologies to audit and improve these micro experience opportunities.
  3. Innovations in areas like voice, IoT, retail touch points.
  4. Sustainability: Brands are looking at solutions and ideas through a sustainability filter and the use of sustainability to create a competitive advantage

The agency has done a lot of interesting creative work across Marico, Heinz, Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Swaraj Tractors and more. The agency believes in work that can literally be touchpoint-agnostic, clutter and format-breaking, story living and most importantly authentic.

“Our work on Heinz Soy Sauce, Heinz World’s First Spice Insurance, Pantaloons’ Rakhshabandhan, and globally for Wendy’s and The last Ever Issue is a testament for that,” he concludes.

Real Husbands Cook Case Film_Ver 1 from VMLY&R Asia on Vimeo.

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