TheSmallBigIdea thinks big

It is hiring, and is looking at offering language digital-first services

MUMBAI: In advertising the Big Idea comes from a small insight. That was the inspiration behind former Reliance Big executive Harikrishnan Pillai and Ex-Times Network's Manish Solanki naming their agency soon after they quit their jobs. Six years down the line, their full-service digital agency,TheSmallBigIdea (TSBI), has grown to a team of 84 professionals, having served clients such as Star Sports,&TV, Colors, Zee Bioskope, Seychelles Tourism, IDFC Bank, HDFC Life, Asian Paints, Chennaiyin FC, and Big Magic. Recently,the agency created headlines for winning the social media mandate for movies like Love Aaj kal and Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan.

For Pillai, it has been a dream journey from 2014, when he started the TheSmallBigIdea as a self-funded venture, by imbibing his experience from the Zee network and Reliance Broadcast Network.  
His fruitful stints at Zee and Reliance helped him a lot. Talking about his past experience, he said: “If we have hunger and perseverance they gave us the opportunity. It is probably the biggest legacy that I have carried into my team. As I have said, most of our team is home-grown, all trained internally with strong ethos. The team at TheSmallBigIdea is creatively strong.  They are leading the team as if they themselves are the entrepreneurs. The second lesson learnt has been a focus on delivery. A great idea without impeccable execution is nothing. So, while we are idea-driven, we are extremely focused on executions, delivery, and measurement.”

While brands in the media and entertainment category contribute 60 per cent of its business, TheSmallBigIdea has a stronghold and focus in tourism, education, e-commerce and BFSI. Then around 15-18 months ago,  it ventured into movies. “Movies happened last year with Badhaai Ho. Then we did Bala, Good Newzz, Dream Girl, and so on. Our primary focus is on sustainability and growth. What is going to give us sustainability is the large clientele that we have; our focus has been to provide services to them so that they can stick around us. The other most important factor is growth. When you look at sustainability you also look at growth,” said Pillai. 

Largely based out of Mumbai, it has reps in Bangalore, Delhi, Punjab and Chennai. 

The agency also has a sprinkling of media-only clients for whom it does the planning and buying like: Seychelles Tourism, Bahrain Tourism, Welingkar Institute and Dalmia College. Realising the potential in going local, TheSmallBigIdea launched TSBI Bharat as it saw the need to reach out to the next 100 million people who are going to come online. It's not just about language translation but studying how regional markets behave, how they consume internet and the role of neo-social apps in their ecosystem. 

“We want to understand their sentiments, what kind of content they want to consume, etc. It is about addressing a larger ecosystem rather than addressing one particular language,” says Pillai. 

TheSmallBigIdea is expecting a lot of growth coming from TSBI Bharat. It is pushing brands to create content in regional languages using neo-social apps. “We are also focusing on TSBI studios, which is the production division at TheSmallBigIdea to create more short-format content, podcasts and ad films. Our analytics tool ACE allows business to derive actionable insight through a thorough evaluation of social and enterprise data,”he added. 

The agency, is looking at hiring more people to reach the 100-mark. Going forward, TheSmallBigIdea envisages a brighter future. “What works for us are the insights and the content,” says Pillai confidently. “Not only our ideation team but our service team is very strong and that is reflected by the fact that 80 percent of our clients renew contract on Y-o-Y basis. What is not working for us is the reputation of being a media and entertainment company, which is not true. Like I have said we get only 60 percent of revenue from media and entertainment. This perception I would like to change.” he concludes.

Now that’s what sounds like a sound idea. A big sound idea. 

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