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Seven years of Out of the Box ideas!

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MUMBAI: It was in 2006 when advertising professional Viral Pandya found his calling. With over 15 years of experience at that time, Viral wanted to break-free from the recycled ideas and clichéd advertising, and the outcome was Out of the Box.

As the name suggests, the Delhi-based advertising company believes in taking the unbeaten path. As the agency turned seven on 10 January, the co-founder and chief creative officer believes that it has been a great ride ever since and he’s still enjoying the heady feeling. “While I was heading creative at Saatchi, I got this chance to set up an agency from scratch, and I grabbed it,” he recalls while on a celebration trip with his entire team to Shimla.

On the years just a little short of the big 10, the team feels that the appreciation that it has received from clients, the industry, peer groups and award juries is the high point. “Year after year, we have won just about every award worth winning,” points out Pandya while stating more instances of their work been acknowledged and respected. For instance, a poster developed by the agency was displayed by Museum of Design in Zurich.

The agency’s copywriter, Vaibhav Pandey, won the All-Star competition at the Portfolio Night organised by Art Director’s Club, New York. He was chosen as the Best Young Creative from New Delhi, and was invited to New York to work for the global campaign for Ford Motors. Apart from that, last year, Pandya was invited to be a jury member for the New York based One Show Awards (Design) that celebrates the best of the advertising world.

The agency caught everyone’s attention a couple of years back when it won its first ever Cannes Gold Lion in Design for its work – Love blossoms here.

The agency attributes all these accolades on a conscious effort to do away with the stuffiness of big agencies, and have more creative freedom and tighter creative control. “In this day and age, agencies will go to any extend to get more business, we are an exception. Our focus has always been quality, not quantity,” emphasised Pandya.

Unlike others, Pandya doesn’t shy away from saying that awards are an important source of encouragement for him and his teammates. He believes that validation about anything is good, and who wouldn’t welcome it!

He goes on to say, “I believe everything that goes out of the agency should carry our mark of excellence. We will go to any extend to live up to this belief.”

But every agency would like to believe the same about them and thus when quizzed Pandya about what makes Out of the Box stand out, he candidly puts it that there are two answers to this. Quoting Abraham Maslow, he says, “If hammer is the only tool you have, you see every problem as a nail.” He further adds, “Thing is, if you are an ATL agency, you come up with just ATL solutions. If you are digital agency, your solutions are digital. Luckily, we approach every problem with a clean slate. We have competencies in every discipline – whether it’s design, advertising or digital. If it’s PR that the client needs, we have no hesitation in recommending that. Point is there’s no standard way to develop a brief; we define the marketing problem, keep an open mind, and arrive at a solution.”

And the shortest way to put it according to him is: See our work. And you will realise how different we really are!

Sounds like a lot like boasting, but the agency doesn’t feel that way. “Apart from the work, our people and the clients which have always supported, appreciated and encouraged us add up to make it worth it,” he says.

The agency boasts of clients like Mother’s Pride, Haldiram’s Presidium, Adiva Healthcare and Art of Curry that have been with the agency since its inception. In fact, it was Mother’s Pride that had got them the Cannes Lion. The team had worked on it with collaboration with Bombay Duck Design and came up with numerous layouts and taglines before producing the award-winning designs.

Small independent agencies have and are still mushrooming in the country, but not many last for long or are bought over/merge with bigger agencies. Dentsu India group (which acquired 51 percent stake in Taproot India) executive chairman Rohit Ohri believes that it doesn’t matter if you are a small or big agency, or if you work independently or are a branch of a giant group, it is the work that matters. “Size doesn’t matter. It is a level-playing field and the key differentiator is the work,” says Ohri who thinks even small and independent agencies can survive in the competitive world.

However, Pandya says that a merger doesn’t make sense unless there’s a meeting of minds. “We set up Out of the Box to get away from the stuffiness of a big agency. So naturally, we will be careful before we jump into a merger. However, if our values and beliefs match, we’d be open to it,” he remarks.

When quizzed if he regrets any decision taken about the agency so far, he says, “I only wish that we had started this venture a little earlier.”

As he signs off, in an optimistic way he says that there will be big surprises from the agency, “You just wait and watch.”

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