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“Our focus will be on digital, mobile & activation”: Dhunji Wadia

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Regarded as someone with strong business acumen, great entrepreneurial instincts and affinity towards clients' businesses, Dhunji Wadia was anointed as Rediffusion-Y&R president in December last year.

With the Rediffusion-Y&R Group since 2010, Wadia had moved from JWT after spending 18 years there. Helming Everest Brand Solutions, he will now have greater responsibilities on his shoulders as he steps into the shoes of predecessors like Mahesh Chauhan, D Rajappa and Sam Ahmed.

The 40-year-old company surfaced from choppy waters by reinventing itself. The years 2014 saw the agency bag a number of new accounts, including Videocon, Virgin Atlantic and Biba Fashions in Delhi; PC Chandra Jewellers and Cordlife in Kolkata; and Revtron in Mumbai.

Indiantelevision.com’s Meghna Sharma spoke to the man, who has over 25 years of industry experience and has worked closely on brands like Parle, Tata, Unilever and Nike amongst others, to know his plans for the agency.

Excerpts…

A new year, a new beginning. What will be on your agenda for 2015 for Rediffusion Y&R and Everest Brand Solutions?

2015 will be the year of focus. The number one priority is to focus on the creative work. Creative work is the whole agency. Of course, creative and strategic thinking are interlinked. But it’s the final output that moves the consumer. Once the creative work is in place, all good things will start to happen. It will positively impact the health of our brands, the agency’s fortunes, new business acquisitions and taking better care of our people.

Having understood the destination, we are working on the strategy to get there. In the process, people who are excited about the opportunities will make it big rather than people who are happy to sit back and wait for things to happen. The results will speak for themselves.

The year 2014 saw Rediffusion Y&R bagging new accounts like Videocon, Virgin Atlantic and Biba amongst others. The agency also regained its spot amongst the 10 advertising agencies in the country. What does this mean for the agency and how will this impact the future?

Winning new business is always great. It gives us a chance to showcase new work. Regaining our spot in the top 10 was a great moral booster. It fills us with the confidence and enthusiasm to go further.

What were the key lessons learnt from 2014 for you and the agency? And how will you implement those learnings in 2015?

Today, the size of the agency makes no difference at all. Neither does the scope or the geographic reach of the agency. The difference for any client is really in the people. Do they bring the experience, knowledge and insight to a client that will make a big impact in that organisation's results and bottom line?

People are going to be the key going forward. We have a promising lot with immense potential and unleashing this potential will be a priority in 2015.

What are the key areas that the agency has been working on?

We have been focusing on our existing clients. Last year, more than half of our new business came from existing clients. It feels terrific when your existing clients trust you with their critical new brand launches. It’s a responsibility we cherish and specialise in.

We are living in a 'Breaking News' world where what's trending today is forgotten tomorrow, so we need to be in the news for the right reasons. We not only need to do the work but we also will have to come out and tell the world 'Hey look, here's what we’ve been doing.'

According to you, what will be the highlights for the coming years?

We hope to make our work the single biggest highlight of 2015 and beyond.

What is your take on digital video format becoming a go to formula for advertising? Why are brands as well as advertising agencies opting for it?

This is going to become a key differentiator in content marketing – one will be able to cut through online clutter to attract customers, increase engagement and guide customers throughout their buying journey. This would be possible on any screen, anytime, anywhere.

Since brands are banking on creating films for digital platforms what do you enjoy the 30-second clip for TV or the long ones for digital?

As opposed to bombarding the viewer with repeat telecasts of TV commercials, this is an option where you create a long duration commercial and hope the viewer likes, comments and shares the video.

Going forward, clients won't care about web hits because majority of the hits are now just bots. The main parameter for them will be sales. That’s what it was supposed to be in the first case.

What are the plans lined up for the digital side of your business?

We have done quite a few award-winning digital initiatives for our clients - SAB TV, Ranbaxy Volini and TATA Housing to name a few. Going forward there will be additional drive and focus on digital, mobile marketing and activation.

How has storytelling evolved over the years?

Thanks to the advancement in technology, storytelling is becoming increasingly compelling over the years. The recent Honda Type R commercial is a good example.

One mandate which you are really proud of and why?

Every mandate comes with its own unique challenges. And our credo is – To Resist The Usual. It would be impossible to isolate any one instance.

Everest has won the Brand Revitalisation Award for Brand Everest, at the ‘Global Excellence Awards' by World Brand Congress and also adjudged the ‘Happiest Agency in India’. What initiatives do you take to make sure employees are happy? And how productive are happy people?

Happy people make a happy agency and in turn happy clients. It’s a happy circle. Most people join advertising in order to follow their passion. Majority of the work related grievances turn out to be minor issues when there is a common consensus. You need to have your heart in the right place.

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