While we understand that these are difficult times and there seems to be no end to the lockdown, digital agencies continue to provide their expertise to brands in order to guide their brand communication strategies with responsible messaging at the heart of it.
To understand nuances of agency life during lockdown the period and the introduction of work from home and the implications post the lockdown opens, Medianews4u spoke to Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO & Co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea.
Tell us about how the business for the agency been shaping up? Which are some of the recent achievements that you would want to highlight?
While we are looking at flattening the Covid-19 curve, Covid’s definitely flattening business curves. There is no running from the fact that business projections pre and post covid will be very different. While there are some challenges, I would like to believe that by Diwali there should be some order to this chaos. Because of our large exposure to the retainer format of the agency business, the impact hasn’t thrown us completely off-guard. Some of our clients like films or tourism have felt a direct impact of the COVID-19 situation, however, TV channels, BFSI, consumer products continue to spend but with caution.
While Covid-19 has struck all of us very hard… brands are still being a part of the conversation by responsible messaging… tell us about some of the campaigns that are credited to the agency?
We work with ZEEL and co-collaborated the campaign ‘hum andar corona bahar’. The main objective of the campaign was to encourage and educate the audience to stay at home during this pandemic. As an entertainment brand, where the audience is more engaged than ever before, it was our duty to recommend something which was not preachy or gloomy. All the elements of our idea revolved around the central thought of educating people on the benefits of social distancing. We suggested that movie and film characters from the library be at the forefront of communication and created a plethora of contextual content.
For example, we created Rewind videos to show characters entering homes, rather than exiting. On top of that, we got actors to go LIVE or shoot engaging content from their homes on how they are dealing with the lockdown. There were lockdown watchlists and binge lists created to further encourage our audience to stay home. This was done across some key brands of the zee network. The campaign received an overwhelming response.
How have brands changed or modified their communication strategy? And what has been your advice to all your clients?
We strongly advise clients against going into a shell. The idea is to keep the communication on and be sensitive, helpful, and entertaining. This is a crisis and you don’t want to look like you are trying to benefit out it. We are also advising clients to use this for realigning strategies, look at data to recourse and redesign.
During these hard times, how are you keeping up the morale of your teams that are working remotely? How are you making sure about the mental health of employees so that the lockdown doesn’t drive people crazy?
In times like these, there is a greater need for engagement and downtime among the team members. At times there is a tendency to get deeply engrossed with work that one forgets eventually these are humans who are used to interacting with many individuals and now are confined to the walls of their homes. Individual teams are doing weekly team activities. Additionally, we have planned Friday night activities with the entire workforce.
For a mid-week break, we have planned an interesting digital interaction called ‘Digital Wow Wednesdays’ for people to come together and play digitally. We have encouraged managers to keep speaking with the team members, especially ones staying away from the family or the ones who are new to the organization.
What is your experience of working from home?
Work from Home is not new to us at TheSmallBigIdea. We had an existing work from home policy and a well-structured SOP around it. As a matter of fact, we have a mandatory WFH policy where people are encouraged to work from homes for a certain number of days. All we had to do was extend it to the entire organization for a longer duration. In times like these strong SOPs with even stronger implementation comes to the rescue.
Being a digital agency how are you making sure that you’re ahead of the curve in these times of uncertainty and crisis?
Being digital fundamentally puts one ahead of the curve. We are now focussing on helping our clients in their digital transformation journey, especially in the products and distribution aspects. There is an increase in effort for social listening, tracking sentiments, and analysis of future behavior.
How will businesses shape up post the lockdown?
I feel the post lockdown phase is going to be critical for businesses to spring back into action and for the economy to bounce back. I believe that there will be likely a paradigm shift for brands and companies towards their digital distribution and having a digital-first approach. There is enough and more evidence that tech-enabled business has had the least impact of the outbreak and its repercussions. Keeping this learning in mind, induction of tech/having a digital approach into all elements of the business is the way to go ahead.