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What 2020 taught me about the advertising business

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MUMBAI: Indiantelevision.com is happy to bring you the year ender 2020 series Throwback 2020– a wrap  up of major developments in the media, entertainment, advertising and marketing sectors during one of the most challenging 12 months mankind has faced in a century. We are also bringing you perspectives from executives – their POVs – of the year just gone by. Here’s one from Dentsu Webchutney CEO Gautam Reghunath, wherein he talks what the annus horribilis has taught him and his team at the agency. Read on to learn more from him. 

Your Core Team Will Make or Break You.

Great teams aremade through endless iterations of roles cultures, processes, structures and tackling problems when they emerge. They are more than a bunch of well performing people put together. The only way to build these teams is through endless optimisations of how this team works together. I’ve never been more thankful to have had this core in place. Investing in culture and setting up a great core team has always been a priority at Webchutney but the last 12 months have just solidified how it is especially important during a rough year. 

Agency creativity is now a rare product. We’re doubling down on it. 

The truth is that over the past decade, creativity as a service has taken a back seat at most big agencies. In our industry right now distribution, productivity and  efficiency are what’s valued, but the side effects are that they are all becoming commoditised. There’s little differentiation between agencies. As for Webchutney, it is only smart for us to maintain our focus of differentiation to creativity, a truly scarce resource whose value is always on the rise.

Remote-talent might just have saved advertising.

Clever, creative people don’t just live in big cities. Social media platforms have thrived on it but advertising will have to learn to embrace creativity from across the country for its own sake. But not before a serious change to what’s required. Remote work requires new infrastructure and management styles that we aren’t used to or taught. The hardest challenge with remote is trying to change the fundamental nature of agency floors: we're social creatures, we communicate synchronously, we ideate together, often loud. Self-discipline is hard. In advertising, it’s even harder. Companies which figure it all out have a massive talent arbitrage opportunity.

Resourcefulness and initiativestood out more than ever this year.

Resourcefulness is a competitive advantage. Too many organizations hire when they should be optimizing the people they’ve already got. Efficient people want to work in an efficient environment. The people who have stood out for me this year are the ones who’ve shown excitement about the opportunities for us this year, an ability to contribute the right way and those who’ve displayed apotential to learn and adapt. Initiative is contagious.

Client relationships – stop taking them for granted.

Over a period of time, agencies typicallystart takingclient relationships for granted. But the reality is that every day, they’re choosing to be your client or not. No year has this played out more than 2020. Somewhere a client relationship starts resembling a subscription you renew every year. Digital agencies who’ve grown up on project work might deal with this better. We’ve fought so hard for a seat at the table over the years that because we were always pitching, we developed a skill of communicating who we are and what we’re bringing that some of the older agencies forgot to do consistently. 

Make a Plan, But Don’t Plan on Sticking to It.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” The key decisions this year challenged my willingness to evolve more than my aptitude or intelligence. 2020 taught me that you can make progress by planning but it’s more by deviating that the chances of success increase. It’s also proven to us in advertising that that we have so much more to learn as an industry on how to reinvent ourselves. Nobody ever regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances.
 

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