Here’s our exclusive interview with Dentsu Webchutney’s CEO and Co-founder, Sidharth Rao, post winning PR Specialist AOY & Direct Specialist AOY 2019 at Goafest.
Agency Reporter: You have won really big at Goafest. How’s the mood of the team?
Sidharth Rao: Goafest is a special place for us at Dentsu Webchutney. We could muster the courage of applying here only back in 2006 — it was called ABBYs and held in Mumbai back then — it was 7 years after we went into the business of building brands using digital technologies on offer. That year I think we won gold and silver in the two digital categories on offer.
Now, today was different, but let me tell you, the excitement hasn’t changed one bit. People who lifted trophies for us today started off at Webchutney as junior visualizers and account managers who are now brand heads. I still see palpable excitement from all parts of the company, every year, in the run-up to applying to GoaFest. It’s the beginning of our year when it comes to awards, and the team is rightfully pumped at this show here. We’re staying humble, as ever, I hope!
AR: How do you see the Goafest festival and its importance for the moral of the team?
SR: Goafest is incredibly important for morale. I know we like to keep the focus on creativity, but let’s be real for a second. It’s the time of the year when brands put agencies in a review, budgets are being allocated for the next year, and new account pitching is in full swing. What Goafest does for us, is to look back at how we have grown, year-on-year. Our creative teams consider this a self-performance review for their work, and I find joy in seeing the process play out every year.
AR: Today, the awards are an amalgamation of creativity and data. How do you think the two are merging together?
SR: Creativity, plain and simple, cannot exist a world of perfect information! What data allows us to do, is to consistently iterate in our output while looking for key signals to influence campaigns. I know it’s a cliche to say that they are joined at the hip, but Google won creative marketer of the year last year at Cannes. And that’s a company known for wrangling data in countless ways.
It’s a part of the shift we often see when new technologies come up. Radio and TV are now considered traditional media even though they are fundamentally digital technologies — but that’s perhaps because we know the rules of the game. On the internet, well, the rules are rewritten every single day, so we’re lucky to thrive in a world of imperfect information where we can only survive by staying creative, by definition.
Hagglebot and our work for URI show that contextualizing data, either about the consumer or for the consumer can change the game to set a new standard for how technology can be leveraged.
AR: What role are clients playing in letting the agency come up with bold and smart campaigns?
SR: Our clients are our biggest champions, and I don’t say that lightly. We have worked really hard on our thinking when it comes to important brands in the last few years; with Airtel, Uber, Flipkart, and Swiggy, we have clients who live to innovate. We have a term floating around for certain clients, called ‘super-clients’ the ones who partner with us to build a bridge with Indians everywhere.
Ideally, we have found our favorite clients giving us a clear idea of where they want to be, and trusting us with the rest at a high level. Some campaigns that won today were cracked with the client.
AR: How do you see the future of Dentsu Webchutney? Will it be a digital agency or there is more to it that you think?
SR: Webchutney is an agency built for change. It always has been like that. With all due respect to our peers, we do not consider ourselves a digital agency. Clients come to us for breakthrough ideas that marry the brand, the consumer, and the idea no matter which medium.
In the last 4 years, we have scaled everything from world-class media strategy and relevant influencer management to an emphasis on research and strategy.
I don’t want to comment on where we will go, but I do know what we are built for change, and will thrive in it — especially if your brand is affecting it!