The third edition of the Rising Star Awards was organised by BestMediaInfo.com recently, at The Westin, Gurugram, to celebrate the applause-worthy works of young media strategists in the country across several brand categories.
At the awards gala, Omkar Gaikwad, Group Head - Programmatic Solutions, Interactive Avenues, won the High Chair trophy for Best Strategy - Digital (Programmatic) for Mahindra Thar's #ExploreTheImpossible campaign.
Speaking to BestMediaInfo.com, Omkar Gaikwad, Group Head - Programmatic Solutions, Interactive Avenues, candidly explained what exactly lured him into the enchanting realm of advertising in the first place and that too on the media side of the ad world.
“Given my interest in technology, I found the intersection of advertising and digital media appealing as I thought it would help me stay at the forefront of the latest advancements. That said, I never had a full-fledged plan to start a career in advertising but as I started learning more about digital media, it became clear that I wanted to pursue a career in this field. Luckily, when I landed my first job in digital, my role enabled me to work on media strategy as well,” he added.
However, he said that had he not landed in digital, he would have found fulfilment in the field of Data Science.
On being asked, what is the most exhilarating aspect of the ad world, Gaikwad said, “It sets me free! Unlike other professions where other tasks can take priority over creativity, the ad-world allows me to be free, creative and curious.”
While sharing one piece of advice for his younger self, Gaikwad said, embrace the mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. The professional landscape is very dynamic and the ability to learn quickly is a valuable skill set. Stay curious and feel free to step out of your comfort zone.
He also shared what exactly made him stay glued to media agencies given that brands have also increasingly begun opening their media verticals saying, while brand-side roles are attractive, being part of a media agency has given him a chance to work on anything and everything – the sky's the limit!
“I find it beneficial to work across a variety of verticals – right from planning and strategy to operations, as this gives a wider perspective,” he added.
Furthermore he highlighted that he comes from an Engineering background so, while it’s tricky to correlate his educational background and profession, still he does find some links. He was trained to understand systems and processes comprehensively. This holistic view proved to be beneficial in digital marketing, where understanding the entire marketing funnel and how different elements interact is crucial for success.
“My academics often emphasised on adaptability and the ability to learn new concepts quickly. In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, where new technologies and trends emerge regularly, being adaptable and having a strong learning mindset has been highly beneficial,” Gaikwad added.
He also shed light on some of the ad campaigns that hold the top spot in his heart.
“In recent times, one of our campaigns, Spotify Wrapped, really stood out for me. In a cluttered sea of content, it’s imperative to grab the user’s attention in a short span of time. Especially in the case of GenZ, an audience whose attention in the digital world is short and dynamic. For this reason, the campaign strategy needed to be efficient and impactful to deliver outstanding results,” Gaikwad said.
“We made use of hyper-personalised messaging to capture the audience’s attention instantly. This differentiated approach helped us set context with our audience and leverage their unique moments & interests, which resulted in better traction and business results. Most importantly, we were able to deliver this hyper-personalisation without compromising on the scale of the campaign,” he added.
Navigating the post-university maze can be a whirlwind to a lot of people. So, we asked Gaikwad how he weathered the storm and which superpowers - also known as strengths and weaknesses - led him to the helm of his current success in the ad-scape?
While answering he said that it is extremely important to stay vigilant and be patient when you start climbing the professional ladder. Sometimes things take time, so having patience is the key to survive, no matter which profession you are in.
“I also feel staying informed helps a lot and is effective for navigating daily challenges. The dynamic nature of the digital media field keeps me on the edge, fascinates me and keeps me going,” he added.
While explaining what actually tickles his fancy during leisure hours, beyond the ad-thrills, Gaikwad said that he likes reading literature and he generally reads fiction. He finds this to be a great detox from work and it keeps him fresh.
Gaikwad also highlighted that one individual he truly admires is their CEO, Amardeep Singh. He has not only made a significant impact in the industry, but has also influenced Gaikwad’s approach to digital media.
“Another person who has been a North Star for me is our COO, Shantanu Sirohi. His superb management skills are something I always look up to. I see these individuals as constant sources of inspiration, and I'm always eager to learn from their experiences and adapt my approach as the industry evolves,” he added.
Furthermore, Gaikwad went on to say, “There’s no doubt that Interactive Avenues’ office culture has played a key role in shaping my career. Here, we’re empowered to reach out to anyone on the floor, irrespective of their designation and the vertical they are working on. This characteristic of the agency is great for someone who wants to learn across media verticals. The people here make me feel at home and juggling work and life doesn’t come to me as a responsibility.”