Creative hotshop a.m. rises

MUMBAI: “It‘s always tough starting something new. Once you strip yourself off your big-agency visiting card and designation, you have to get used to doing everything for yourself - all the things you took for granted in a big, established setup. We had also been told that when one does this, one automatically loses half of one‘s friends and contacts. But we‘ve been incredibly lucky in this regard - people who‘ve worked with us and trusted us in our old roles, continue to extend that support even today.”

That’s Nilesh Vaidya in case you don’t know. Vaidya, a former executive creative director with Rediffusion Y&R, took the entrepreneurial plunge in April this year, setting up a creative business solutions agency called a.m. said a.m. director Nilesh Vaidya. He did not do alone - he roped in Nokia mobile payments marketing director Shreepad Shinde to take the ride with him. The duo has set up office in the Goregaon suburb of Mumbai and has a staff of eight currently. And plans are being to drawn up to aggressively expand to Gurgaon and Bangalore in just six months.

Both have immense pedigree. They worked together in advertising 15 years ago before parting ways to follow their individual career graphs. While Shinde hopped over to the client‘s side, and rose to become director - marketing at Nokia Mobile Payments, Vaidya stayed rooted in advertising, rising to head Rediffusion Y&R’s Mumbai creative team, handling some premier accounts like eTata Motors, Sugar Free and Sahara Q Shop. Prior to that he had a stint with Euro RSCG, where he led with some memorable work on Dainik Bhaskar and HDFC Bank. Shinde, on the other hand, started out in advertising and went on to lead marketing and product functions in organisations like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank.

Nilesh Vaidya...

Both Vaidya and Shinde believe that they want to build an organisation based on their values and beliefs, for the purpose of doing clutter-breaking work and building enduring relationships with clients.

Says Vaidya ,“It‘s been three months since Shreepad and I came together to form a.m. Actually, Shreepad had started the agency a few months before under another identity, and we had been talking about getting together. We decided in February. I put in my papers at Rediffusion, and became a part of a.m. in the first week of April. After spending 20 and 19 years in our respective fields, both Shreepad and I felt ready to take the next big step, take on the entrepreneurial challenge. We had touched base after a 15 year gap but our philosophies and goals matched so perfectly that doing business together seemed the logical thing to do.”

Shinde throws some light on what he believes sets am apart from other agencies. Says the soft-spoken former telecom executive: “Normally, when we talk about ad agencies, we talk about providing creative solutions, strategy, planning etc. I have been a client for years and agencies generally build a strategy born from a business objective to provide a communication model. With a.m., we have a holistic approach to drive the business, as we position ourselves as their business partner. Over here we will understand the distribution margin, how is the competition in the market, the selling price in the market, their loyalty programme for their dealers and distributors among many other things. We are looking at providing a holistic approach by stepping into our clients shoes and understanding the business.”

... and Shreepad Shinde strongly believe in building enduring relationships with clients

Consisting of a team of five creatives, a.m., the duo is offering radio, print, digital and online and offline services to clients and has handled projects for Reliance Life Insurance, Fiat Chrysler, Bajaj Auto, ACK Media (on the National Geographic brand), Intelligentia IT Solutions, Classic Marble Company, Rommel Developers and Health Assure.

Both Vaidya and Shinde seemed to concur that being lean and mean on the human resources front gives you the sheen. “We‘re both very prudent people. We believe in getting business first, adding people and overheads later. And that‘s the way a.m. will always be run,” pipe up both of them at same time. “The gold will always come before the glitter. Of course, the ambition is to become really big and famous.. .to be known as a true marketing and communications partner, working as an extension of the client‘s marketing arm. The vision is to do work that‘s so strategically and creatively perfect, it produces results beyond a client‘s expectations. We‘d like to grow by growing the brands we handle.”

That’s an Abby winning speech if ever there was one!

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