Voice and AI are going to be a big thing in the years ahead, says Anil Nair of VMLY&R

In an interaction with, Anil Nair, CEO, VMLY&R talks about his expectations with 2022 and how technology will further affect advertising

Nisha Qureshi
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Voice and AI are going to be a big thing in the years ahead, says Anil Nair of VMLY&R

Anil Nair

Earlier the big-spending brands used to focus on top-of-the funnel marketing activities and trusted the distribution channel to take care of the rest. However today, it is important for brands to invest in the lower end of the funnel, says Anil Nair, CEO, VMLY&R. 

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Speaking about the areas that VMLY&R, the global brand agency, will focus on in the upcoming year he said they will continue to focus on consumer experiences.

“We always have equal importance given to communications strategies, content strategies, customer experience, interface design to customer markets. We have a full-funnel approach and I would dare say that till the pandemic is not completely out of the system there will be a lot of uncertainty and that is why people will be judicious about their spending. However, the one place where they are definitely investing in is the mid-lower end of the funnel. That is where we have very strong products,” Nair said.  

According to Nair, although they have grown considerably in this period, comparing 2019 to 2020 and 2021 is unfair. He added that some of the agency’s offerings have been very relevant during the pandemic. 

Upon being asked how brands can stay safe from trolling, he said that agencies and brands must not associate with a cause just for a short period. “If a brand has a natural affinity to a cause or has always espoused it then they should continue, but doing it just for a single spot I think does damage to the brand. Even consumers today, especially the younger ones, know how-to pick-up authenticity from brands.” 

“What is happening is there is a very ‘keeping up with the joneses’ kind of mentality where it has become fashionable to be on every social media platform because every other brand and category is there. The first thing to do is look at your community, tribe and see what social channels do they exist on. Then figure what channels are you going to be on and what are you going to be speaking about. Speak to them about the things they care about,” he added. 

Speaking about a few big areas that will come up in advertising in the upcoming year, he said, “I just foresee a lot of action in the area of content. I see content at scale made with AI and ML. There will be a lot of vernacular work and hyper-personalised content. Voice is the other area where I see a lot of action evolving. I see a lot of brands using brands with IoT. The other interesting space for me is the entire digital payments and fintech space which will make e-commerce much easier and more accessible.” 

He said the recent campaign by Cadbury Celebrations, featuring Shah Rukh Khan, has made a lot of marketers look at AI and its immense possibilities. As per him, although some of these technologies may have a slower adoption rate than others; a lot of progress and a lot of work is being built on the back of the rapidly developing technology.

Elaborating on the current situation with the pandemic and his expectations from the future, he said, “It's hardships that craft some of the greatest inventions and discoveries. I just believe that we are being forged into two powerful forces. One of them is connectivity (internet). It has changed the way we connect. The other big force is the pandemic itself; both of these are now affecting us together. This intersection is throwing a lot of discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Yes, there are some short-term losses. The economy and GDP are affected, but I think the upside of it is a lot of things that would have otherwise taken time to come into society, we are using them much in advance now. Hopefully, once all this settles down, we will enjoy the benefits of some of these innovations.”

Anil Nair VMLY&R Voice and AI