Janhavi is the Director Brand Strategy at Gozoop, a digital-first marketing company. She is responsible for creating sharp and strategic solutions across digital mediums and has been integral in adding key brands like ParleNutricrunch, Taj Palaces Resorts and Safaris, Saint Gobain, British Council, and more to the Gozoop roster. Janhavi is an Alumnus of The University of Melbourne, she began her career in the field of Reality Television. She worked on some of India’s most well-loved prime-time reality shows such as Bigg Boss and Dance India Dance as a content producer in varying capacities.
In 2015 she joined Gozoop as a content specialist eventually growing to Head of Content, where she led a team that created content for multiple service verticals such as SEO, ORM, PR, websites, blogs, and Social Media across geographies such as India, USA, and Dubai. She has an in-depth understanding of digital channels, in 2017 Janhavi turned to craft holistic digital strategies for brands across channels. With the additional focus on new business, over the past 4 years, she has not only played a vital role in crafting award-winning campaigns but also created successful pitches that have resulted in the addition of key accounts to the agency roster.
Gozoop was founded in October 2008by Ahmed AftabNaqvi, RohanBhansali, and DushyantBhatia, Gozoop is an independent marketing company offering a wide range of strategic solutions for brands and businesses. With a platform-agnostic approach and effective blend of creative and technology services and specializes in crafting integrated solutions designed to help brands and businesses win in the new world.
In today’s StraightTalk, Janhavi Iyer, Director Brand Strategy –Gozoop talks about her journey in media, the new learnings, and much more.
Tell us about your journey, from being in the reality TV space i.e. traditional media to joining Gozoop and being a part of its leadership team.
2010, India was reeling under the impact of the global financial crisis and I entered a lackluster job market with the goal of pursuing a career in reality television.
The idea of creating content that was based on leveraging natural human behavior was absolutely fascinating. The work was grueling, yet challenging and I loved every minute of it.
A few years in, I found myself gravitating towards writing, from jumping in to complete a script for a film to writing intro links and VOs when the writer was unavailable. That’s what pushed me to switch lanes.
Following a brief stint at a boutique agency as a copywriter, I moved on to content creation at Gozoop. Digital marketing was a whole new world. I remember, trying to decode the basics of SEO right on my very first day! The learning curve that followed was possibly the steepest, albeit the most fun.
2 years after heading content creation, a chance brainstorming session introduced me to digital strategy. Suddenly all of the disparate expertise I had built over the years started to fit and create a larger whole. I realized that Brand Strategy exemplifies the maxim; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. What followed was another lateral move to the strategy team and then another three years to grow into a leadership role. When I look back, my journey has been far from linear. It has been a constant endeavor to learn, unlearn, relearn and explore.
Do you think digital is still at nascent stages in India? How do you see the next few years unfolding?
I believe digital is like a 14-year-old adolescent expected to do the same heavy lifting as a 35-year-old adult. If we look at advertising as an industry, then yes digital is still in its growing years. Not just in India but globally. However, what keeps us behind our global peers has more to do with digital adoption, which is been slow, uneven, and highly fragmented.
Now digital as a space comprises of platforms and behaviors, which simultaneously shape our experiences and are shaped by our experience. How these will shape the future for audiences, brands and the digital marketing industry is going to be interesting to watch. The one thing I can say is that this space is both unpredictable and incredibly responsive, so agility, technological dexterity, and creativity are going to be absolutely vital in the coming years.
We have seen a sharp dependence on digital over the last year due to the pandemic. What are the biggest challenges brands are faced with these days and how is Gozoop aligning to overcome these?
In the last year, the pandemic brought about macro and micro changes in consumer behavior. How we shop, how we connect with people and how our lives play out socially.
For our partner brands as well as for us as an agency, it was a monumental task to monitor or in some cases even pre-empt or anticipate these changes.
The second challenge for brands was about finding ways to stay relevant for consumers while remaining empathetic to the emerging healthcare crisis.
The third was really about a growing digital dependence that was also an opportunity for us at Gozoop. Where once brands only looked at social media or CRM suddenly the shift in e-commerce and digital-first business models meant building digital marketing ecosystems and moving beyond the conventional campaign-first approach. It required re-engineering internal systems to meet cohesive and interlinked marketing service requirements that were conceptualized to realize tangential business goals.
Suddenly it was a Brave New World.
What are the key trends observed in terms of brand building?
I’m a new-age marketer who firmly believes in the value of strong fundamentals and the core principles of brand building stay the same.
Give your audience something larger to believe in; about the world and in turn about how they view themselves; and communicate it consistently. However, as consumer touch points have grown, it is consumer experience that has emerged as the hero of brand building over the last few years. Today brands are built in micro-moments. So new age brands aren’t as dependent on big-budget campaigns to tell their brand story but instead are building solid future-proof stories through consistent and distinct micro-engagements with consumers. After all, hygiene content is the new hero.
The focus on content is always a priority, how do you ensure story-telling is apt in this case?
“What’s in it for me” content is my go-to rule of thumb. If it has to be compelling enough to make you read, watch or share then it has to add something to your experience. What it takes to create this content is always going to be different depending on the communication task at hand, but if it’s not going to make you either think, feel or act it is essentially dead content and that is a no-go.
Your milestones at Gozoop and what are you looking forward to?
There are two kinds of milestones. The conventional ones, Promotions, New Business wins and award wins; and then there are the other milestones, the ones that may not mean much to others but represent key turning points in your story.
My first campaign idea, I remember wracking my brain until suddenly one moment everything fell into place. I remember nervously voicing my idea to my senior and being so surprised when it made it to the deck. I remember my first agency all-nighter, trying to remake a 200 slide deck in a single night. My first pitch presentation was when I had little experience but managed to win over the team, unfortunately not the business. Being responsible for the growth of my team is so humbling and so scary. This list is far longer, but when I do look back these are the real milestones. The successes and failures, both, have kept me going.
Who was your first or most significant mentor or teacher in the professional space?
So much of who I am and the ethos I work with comes from my first boss, JyotshnaKalita, who now runs her agency. She taught me how to work with integrity and that perseverance and creativity are all you need to pull off the impossible.
Next up are the two biggest champions of my growth at Gozoop. First, PremkumarIyer, VP of Operations, was my first boss. From him, I learned of quiet leadership, persistence, and dedication. The second, AmynGhadiali, VP of business and creative strategy, always emphasized the importance of vision, of never forgetting the forest for the trees, and whose relentless pushing has always kept me moving from one milestone to the next.
What are some other activities or hobbies that excite you? What are your weekends like?
I love to read so most weekends are spent curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. I am a moody reader, so I often pick thrillers for when I am in a bad mood and light novels for when I just want that extra rush of dopamine.
Great food is my second love, so time spent with friends over a great meal is an absolute must. Lastly, spending quality time with the people closest to me is important. Helps ease the stresses of the workweek, while giving me a glimpse into other worlds. Perspective is invaluable to the work we do. If I can’t be relevant, then I am redundant.
What are your plans for the next 3 years? What specifically do you want to achieve personally and professionally?
I don’t make plans, life makes plans for me; I simply choose to roll with the punches. Achievements are great, but for me, the biggest one would be to wake up every morning and look forward to work the day ahead! If I can pull that off for the next three years, no matter where I am and what I do, I think I’d call it a job well done. Live every day as if it is your last, and one day you will be right.