The Covid-19 crisis has certainly changed the entire creative and communications industry. Agencies nowadays are not only creating campaigns remotely but are also pitching for new businesses. Since the lockdown everyone has been forced to adopt a new normal. Creative agencies have had to make campaigns remotely which has led to an evolution in the overall storytelling. While there has been an impact on storytelling because of the lockdown; our advertising folks have converted the crisis into an opportunity by taking storytelling to the next level.
Founder, Creative & Strategy Director of Rasta, talks exclusively to Medianews4u about how Rasta as a pure-play creative agency has been performing and the evolution of storytelling post this menace.
Tell us about how the business for the agency has been shaping up? What are some recent campaign/communication of the agency that you would want to highlight?
We have a strong outcome-oriented model for growth. Pre-Covid we had planned to double our retainer client base this financial year. In the first quarter, we thought we’ll have to revise that target but we’re now back to thinking it’s achievable.
We have a diverse client base ranging from Fortune 500 company to Global hospitality major and Consumer Packed Goods (CPG) small to mid-sized Indian origin brands. And we’ve learnt that it is important to keep the portfolio as diverse as possible, especially when a crisis strikes. Horizontal specialization in brand building is better than vertical specialization. So our focus on Brand Strategy, Design and Content Strategy has put us in a decent position.
Also, our credo of Culture First helps us to have a clear focus on what we want to achieve with all our brands, i.e. to make them a part of culture. With regards to campaigns, during this period we have helped Epigamia go Direct to Customer by designing and marketing their online platform and also launched their first plant-based product Coconut milk-based yogurt. We also did a social media campaign called Pipe A New World where the Epigamia community was invited to create yoghurt-based art (Yogart) piping their vision for a post COVID world. Each entry meant that Epigamia cups were being donated to NGOs helping those affected and those on the front line.
While COVID-19 has struck all of us very hard… brands are still being a part of the conversation… What have been your recommendations as a pure-play creative agency?
It’s time to have purpose-built into your brand strategy rather than just your marketing campaigns. We’ve been doing this with all our brands right from the start so it comes organically. It would be hollow and opportunistic for the ad and media community to look at purpose marketing as a mere trend. The audience today can see through this hard selling.
During the lockdown, how did the agency make sure that storytelling during the lockdown was not hampered for the clients?
Last year we incorporated an in-house production setup to have more control over digital content production’s creative output and it’s time to market. With work from home becoming a norm, the last thing clients want to do is coordinate with multiple partners over internet impacted Zoom calls. So we and other creative companies will see more vertical integration. At the end of the day, we need to keep in mind how we can best serve our clients in this ever-changing world.
What are the innovative ways brands can be in constant touch with their audiences even in a lockdown, your views?
Brands can use personalization as a way of reaching their audience. Now more than ever, there’s a high chance that they will find their audience at home. Here’s a candid example, Brands can write personalized letters to their audience. It’s slow marketing gold. It’s innovative because it’s personalized and no one is doing it.
From an innovation POV either be useful or be entertaining, everything in the middle is the zone of mediocrity. Brands need to make hard choices online because it is getting very cluttered. Taking our existing clients as an example, Epigamia’s Instagram page is the best platform in the world to find Greek Yogurt based recipes right now, Accor is definitely a better bet than OYO if you’re a traveller. Similarly, one of our clients Gobbly is the most contactless retail option in the market and Plush the sanitary pad brand is doubling down on creating the Blood sister community. These are hard strategic calls we’re helping our brands make.
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
By giving them freedom to make creative decisions and ensuring that there is plenty of good work. There is no substitute to quality work as motivation. We also try and not bother each other over the weekends so that work and life don’t merge into each other further. We also do some work-related quizzes, mess around with our zoom backgrounds, check on each other’s OTT watchlist.
How has your experience of working from home been?
I’ve been going to the office because no-one else has been coming. It’s close to where I live so it’s very safe and I can get in the zone without worrying about the noise of utensils in the background.
As a content expert, what are some of your learnings from this crisis?
You have to nurture the ability to think long term and short term at the same time.
Content marketing is about being able to take advantage of cultural context i.e. moment marketing, but at the same time be able to do it in your own enviable style which involves deep and long term thinking. Most importantly though, it is important to align people who are excited about the brand to those brands because you want a certain sense of continuity and passion to shine through.
How will storytelling shape up post this crisis? Do you see any new normal being adopted post the lockdown?
There will be a huge focus on editing. This will be made mainstream among large brands because of the success of the recent Nike ad even though it should have already been normalized because of the work influencers did on TikTok and Instagram.
Also, smart brands will look at User Generated Content as a source of inspiration to come up with their stories.
How will the traditional model for agencies evolve post this crisis?
The traditional model for a creative organization has been truly disrupted now and remote working normalisation has meant that as a creative founder, I feel like I can choose from a universal resource pool. A fantastic illustrator sitting in Marseille is only an Insta DM away from being commissioned on a branding project for an Indian cosmetics brand.