The Managing Director and Creative Director talk about post-COVID business, increased work on projects and the difference between Indian and international awards.
A pencil is the most important thing for people in advertising agencies. You use it to flesh out your first thoughts after receiving a briefing.
Next is your proud smile when you receive another (pencil) from The only show in 2022. CEO and MD Aditya Kanthy and CCO Rahul Mathew (left to right in cover image) wore such a smile when DDB Mudra Group won a bronze pencil for its EatQual work for giant QSR McDonald’s and four pencils for the Game Responsibly campaign for gaming giant Battlegrounds Mobile India at the D&AD Awards this year.
The duo are the two main faces of DDB Mudra Group, which Kanthy told Afaqs! reported double-digit revenue growth in 2021. It will also see similar growth in 2022. According to the company, it recorded more than 25% between 2020 and 2022.
DDB Mudra Group is a creative services company and this is where most of its revenue comes from. “60-65% of our revenue comes from digital work,” reveals Kanthy, and credits the company’s “rather diverse group of customers from different categories” for helping her hedge some risk over the past two years.
The group has gained more than 100 accounts between 2020 and 2022 and counts McDonald’s (QSR), Stayfree (personal care), 7Up (drinks), Meesho (e-commerce) and Battlegrounds Mobile India (gaming) among its customers.
In 2022 itself, the group welcomed more than 50 new customers such as Airtel, Instagram, Facebook, Meesho, Rupay, Hayu, Parle Platina, Tata Cliq, Infosys, Xiaomi, H&M, Porter, Life Insurance Council, IIFL Wealth, Rajasthan Tourism .
Speaking of new clients and their campaigns, we recently saw voice actor Shah Rukh Khan read several scripts for Cadbury, while deepfake technology brought together a youngster and Salman Khan in a Pepsi advert. Is technology slowly becoming a customer’s first request rather than creativity?
Kanthy and Mathew disagree. Kanthy says even the best work in the world that involves technology is meaningless without insight, idea, creativity or craftsmanship. “You can’t use emotion without creativity, technology without creativity…” remarks Mathew.
India vs International Awards
Creativity is the foundation on which most jobs and brands are built. Mathew, who was a member of the jury this year Abby a show and FATHER Rewards, reveals ‘context’ as the big difference between Indian and international advertising rewards.
“Everyone is trying to understand the local context. I’ve found international jurors going further, finding the context… When India’s work comes in, there are nuances that people don’t understand and you sit there being the voice, the nuance for work makes you very nervous.”
Mathew thinks India is a land of strong ideas, but we need to package our starters better. The best case studies are exceptionally good at saying only what is necessary. Kanthy chimes in, saying the Indian starters are getting better every day.
“A lot of our work is about social issues, the work we do on brands…we have to catch up more with the work we do for businesses versus the work we do for ends,” says Mathew .
Are brands focusing or talking more about their purpose-driven work now than before? Not really. The shift to cooking lens in organization design began a while ago, Kanthy says. It accelerated post-COVID.
“I don’t think this conversation is the result of COVID. This stuff has been discussed in boardrooms and conversations for much of the past decade.
Asked about the project’s work, Kanthy says there’s definitely more. One of them is the proportional growth of the income generated by the projects. “Our goal is to do a great job and build long-term relationships with clients, even if it comes after a series of projects.”
Clients, whether on mandate or on project, have been accustomed to Unexpected works, the new brand positioning of DDB Mudra Group launched in 2021.
Its global press release quoted Ari Weiss, CCO of DDB Worldwide, as saying, “The formula for creating breakthrough creative work that drives business results is timeless. It’s how we bring this formula to life that changes daily. We are not reinventing the wheel here. We’re just putting more targeted language around a truth that anyone who’s ever worked at DDB can feel in their bones: Unexpected works.”
However, deep down the client knows DDB Mudra Group, people, why he signed up in the first place. So what has changed?
Mathew explains that sometimes while working, “we forget that DDB Mudra is also a brand, and the brand values don’t change, but the articulation changes to be more relevant over time. Unexpected works is the articulation of our values from (co-founder) William Bernbach.