Meera Sharath Chandra: Roaring for her own turf

25 Mar,2013

By Johnson Napier


Meera Sharath chandra

By now the industry may have already warmed up to news of a new agency being launched through Tigress Tigress. Founded by Meera Sharath Chandra, former ECD of Momentum Worldwide UK and former MD of WPP company Syzygy UK, Tigress Tigress will engage in higher order conversations and delivery on overall brand strategy and consumer engagement across all communication touchpoints – with digital at the heart of the experience. It’s a bold step, to say the least – floating a venture of her own in a domain that is a hot favourite.


In fact one could very well start by questioning the thought-process that was adopted behind shortlisting a name that is pretty unusual in the Indian context. Admitting to receiving several inquiries behind the naming of the agency, Ms Chandra asserted that it is in fact a well-thought of strategy. “What I increasingly find is that brands need to mark their own territory in the competitive jungle and no one marks their turf in a better way than the tigress. Moreover once a tiger owns the space he doesn’t let go of it easily. Similarly when a brand comes to us I believe we should give them the chance of having a competitive advantage in the market,” affirmed Chandra.


Presenting another stance Chandra added, “The other side to the name is that if you see my personality, I have been absolutely fiercely protective of my team – another trait of the tigress. When it comes to hunting for business I have been known to be fairly aggressive. So these are the two traits that are synonymous with that of the tigress and hence the name.”


So while a strategy had been envisioned where naming of the agency was concerned, another factor that throws up a lot of questions is being tagged as just another agency in the business. But then there is something different about Tigress Tigress that makes it a player to reckon in the future. Asserted Ms Chandra, “The uniqueness of this concept is that there is no resident team which is creating overheads which I pass on to clients like what the other agencies do. The model is more of a just-in-time talent model where I draw the right resources for the brief. The thing is that whenever the client gives us a brief I would not farm it off to the same team as what most agencies do since they already have the overheads. I would look at the right talent that suits that particular challenge in the marketplace, pull together the right resources; and since creative leadership is my strength I would make sure that everybody works together in a seamless fashion – my entire talent pool is anyway people whom I know and have worked with very well.”


This is business strategy which will draw attention from peers in the industry and also be appealing to clients in a big way. Asserted Ms Chandra, “The thing is that clients are getting a lot savvier in today’s world and if you take a look at their relationship with agencies and re-examine it you would find that the kind of lacuna that exists would be fulfilled by the model that we have to offer. If they want freshness of talent, if they want talent across all touch-points of a truly integrated campaign… nobody has everything in-house but in this model we can stretch ourselves beyond the comfort zone of the agency. I truly believe that a meaningful campaign will always put the consumer first, the brand second and the agency third. If you see today’s model the agencies are navel-gazing and are then worried about the brand and then of the consumer. Whereas it has to be the other way round.”


Chandra said that where clients are concerned she is busy chalking out strategies for one big client – Vibrant Advertising, leaving her little time for the others. “I have just about started signing on a panel of clients and it has taken me quite some time. The first assignment that I am working on is for Vibrant Sports which is a massive High School Football exercise in the US and is completely taken care of on the digital and mobile space. This is being scheduled for August so my entire bandwidth is around that project. In fact the project is so massive that I have no time for pitching to other clients,” quipped Ms Chandra.


Some of the other names on the roster include Digital Marmalade, C R Wolcott Ltd and Skidmore Music from UK, Liam Titcomb from Canada and Ocean Pictures from Germany.


Assisting Ms Chandra in her venture in India will be Vijaykumar Arumugam handling animation and illustration, Deepa Kirodian on art resource and actor-director Purab Kohli, who will be working on cause-related webisodes and video content.


Looking at how the digital landscape has evolved in India, Ms Chandra said, “I have been doing digital for the last 15 years and the last time I was in India, digital wasn’t as huge as it is now. Though it’s not at the level seen in the US or the UK it is on the verge of a breakthrough. What is happening is that TG is increasingly getting younger, becoming more net-savvy and social media active… so the centre point around any campaign has to be digital. If you stick to the old model it may work in certain instances but the new emerging audiences require a different approach with a little of the heart around doing integrated campaigns.”


On the possibility of being open to acquisitions from big enterprises, Ms Chandra expressed caution as she said, “Where digital acquisitions are concerned, that is really not a solution because when you buy a digital company and create an integrated campaign with all the acquisitions that have been made, they are all still different profit centres and they are all pulling at the same share of revenues and they are all having the same friction. This means that the brand personality is not coming out seamlessly because different companies are working on it and therefore one is having a very schizophrenic brand experience and the consumer will get confused at the end of the day. So even if you have divisions inside an agency to create a seamless integrated campaign requires an absolute cohesive team.”


More than that and at a personal level, the venture seems to be a perfect way for Ms Chandra to make her dream of achieving something big at an individual level come true. “As I see it, the entity is an early plan for a late retirement.” Those wanting to explore the possibility of buying out Tigress Tigress out can put that thought to rest.


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