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Born ‘Talented’, how PG Aditiya and Gautam Reghunath’s agency is making its way

Speaking to, Aditiya and Reghunath, Co-founders, Talented, stated that since the creative agency was started with an aim to reimagine the industry mindset, creativity will continue to be the glue that binds the team together

Gautam Reghunath and PG Aditiya (L-R)

After working in dentsu Webchutney for more than a decade and then moving on directly for their entrepreneurial journey in February 2022 has been nothing short of splendid for PG Aditiya and Gautam Reghunath, Co-Founders, Talented.

Apart from being the co-founders of the creative agency, Reghunath is the CEO at Talented, while Aditiya serves as its CCO.

“In our previous company, we had spent 11 years each and we’re blessed and grateful as to how our time there came to an end in the most splendid manner, coincidentally with the agency winning big at the Cannes Lions 2022,” stated Reghunath.

With the founding year coming to an end shortly, Aditiya stated that there is still a huge scope for improvement, but in the duration between may to now, Talented has released 12 campaigns so far.

“We don’t feel that we have worked relatively harder or have devoted more working hours as compared to 2019 or 2020 and truth be told, the volume has been at the same level overall. But we do feel closer to creativity and that certainly binds all of us together,” said Aditiya.

He also went on to add that there are way too many job opportunities and roles that can be taken up by anyone in the team, but creativity is the glue that binds together everyone in an organisation in the advertising industry.

“Our original expectations for the starting few years was to take it slow, but we haven’t been able to take it as slow as we wanted because there’s been an overwhelming interest from the industry end, and we find it very difficult to turn down wonderfully exciting briefs which further lead to beautiful work that Talented has been putting out and it's a natural result of the creative success,” added Reghunathan.

Commenting on how the transformation from their previous campaigns winning big at Cannes Lions 2022 to the inception of Talented just days after stepping out of dentsu fared out for them, Reghunath added that it was beyond a doubt, the biggest masterpiece of their careers at Webchutney and a nice way to turn the page and enter a new chapter at Talented.

“It almost gave a jumpstart and a fillip to Talented and what we had in mind, and in turn set the bar quite high. Our previous work has indirectly blessed Talented and surprisingly it has given the clients a sneak peek of how we wanted to work in our new company,” he said.

Adding to this, Aditiya also stated that after leaving dentsu, both him nor Reghunath didn’t even take a single-day break. Thus, in his opinion, they were able to take advantage of the momentum that was instilled in the team around the work.

“All of the good ideas that we had in our heads over our time at Webchutney, we very cleanly put all of it into Talented and since then it has always felt like we had made the right decision. It has been harder since we had to be more mindful of the work we were putting out, but it definitely was the right move for us and our team,” he said.

When questioned as to what were some of the key differentiators between working at an agency and running one on their own, Reghunath replied that both him and Aditiya had started from scratch and then moved up the ladder in their previous company and were thus equipped with a full-agency experience that really played a crucial role in shaping Talented.

“The major difference has been in the size of our teams mainly, but on a personal level, I feel that I have been much closer to the work now and the creative energy that is being built in Talented,” he said.

Interestingly, Aditiya also stated that being an entrepreneur had never been a part of his overall inner monologue, but with Reghunath’s help, he has truly internalised his current role as the co-founder which for him is the biggest difference in itself.

In their earlier stints, both Aditiya and Reghunath had been on an award-winning spree at Cannes Lions for over three years consecutively. Thus, when questioned as to whether they’ll be sending their entire body of work this time around for such award shows, Aditiya replied that he feels very bullish for next year’s awards since Talented’s work, in his view, has a fair chance at bringing them home, but initially, they would not like to keep these decisions as a separate motivation.

“In the past three-four years, the global juries have been very kind to our work thus it is our responsibility to ensure that it doesn't become the centre of gravity of the work and stay true to the primary objectives for the work that we’ve been doing,” he added.

As Talented was started with an aim to reimagine the advertising mindset, Reghunath stated that from an employee perspective, what in his opinion needed to be fixed was the industry-wide practices for pay, flexible work timings, ESOPS, etc. and thus paved the way for a dramatic shift in the work culture of Talented juxtaposed to any other agency.

“The agency-client relationships that existed a decade back have undergone a transformational change in the current times, and it seems to be non-existent today which cannot be blamed solely on the modern-day fragmented agency set-ups but also on the fact that there is not enough time being spent on the agency-client relationship. It’s not dependent on personal relations but is primarily driven by the amount of good work that’s happening consistently,” he added.

He also went on to add that, unlike the general industry mood, Talented is quite comfortable with working on a project basis whose brief is to solve one straight-forward brand challenge that needs to be solved in say two-three months and some of the best work of Talented was a result of the same.

As per Reghunath, what has really stood apart in Talented’s first year of launch, is the sheer ratio or the space occupied by good work as a part of the overall work, which has been ridiculously higher than it has ever been for him.

Commenting as to how important is the pitch fee for Talented as an agency, Aditiya pointed out that a pitch fee does show a certain level of seriousness from a brand’s end and thus as an agency, they want to apply the same know-how for their talent acquisitions or hiring process as well.

“Not having a token fee from a brand’s end for inviting pitches has not been a deal breaker so far and one of the main motivations for clients to be drawn to us is because of our track record, team chemistry and past work,” he said.

Citing an example, Aditiya also mentioned that from a creative standpoint, if there’s a full-fledged creative pitch that is called for any of the businesses and it has a token fee to it, then the agency comes up a whole lot more prepared and with a lot of information and if things go the right way and the agency wins the account, it’ll obviously get a jumpstart into doing well for the brand and the creative person will already have 20 ideas to execute in their mind.

Aditya also shared that the Talented team is very emotional about their work and that is where all the good work comes from. “For any creative agency, the flywheel of the business is very simple. If one wants to have great talent, one ought to pay them really well and if there’s better work, one would be able to cost the work on a higher end,” he said.

Furthermore, he also went on to add that better creative work is a faster shortcut for placing yourself higher and currently for Talented’s business teams, it is the sheer amount of great work which is the best negotiation tool for pricing higher.

“We’re a little more conscious about what we are selling and therefore there’s an increased mindfulness about our work since one cannot have a great relationship with their clients or draw increased retainers by just doing mediocre work,” added Aditiya.

Throwing light on some of the key areas or objectives for Talented in 2023, Reghunath pointed out that in the pursuit to reimagine the agency experience he would like to ensure that the workplace provides for more consideration towards a sustainable work environment that provides for the employee’s wider personalities, their interests and how they want to spend their time in terms of, be it remote or offline.

“We’re currently working out of our WeWork spaces and will slowly be looking at expanding our physical space and office in addition to doubling down on the creative benchmarks that we’ve set for ourselves,” he said.

As per Aditiya, all the senior management in most companies overall are way more result-focused owing to the global tailwinds and purported threats of recession. “On the face of it, it may seem like it’s a bad thing for creativity, but I think it is the best thing that could’ve happened for you to take creativity way more seriously because when done right, creativity is all about giving you an unfair advantage and is probably like a lottery ticket to the output which no other marketing techniques can match,” he said.

He also went on to add that maybe creativity as a commodity is needed for a scarce market to help the industry realise its true potential and with the humongous amount of investment coming in the past three-four years, the gates have opened to a much greater number of places where one can put this money uniquely with a sizeable risk to make judicious use of creativity.

“Today, advertising feels much more alive than it earlier was. Brands have begun taking risks and I don’t think it will go away in the future, considering that one or two things might go wrong. It is a genuine attempt to want that unfair advantage offered by creativity and to look at attention as a currency,” Aditiya added.

Reghunath also went on to add that Talented will continue challenging and setting newer benchmarks as new talent keeps joining them in their journey and that from a business point, these things would lead them to further growth.

“Since everything ranging from media distribution and efficiency is getting commoditised and they all look the same, creativity has to be the difference maker. There’s been a general sense of risk-averseness in the past decade, but that’s slowly changing and brands have started to realise that creativity is the difference maker for them,” he concluded.

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