Dear MxM by Jaisurya Das: Better to work in activation in a media agency or a standalone one?

03 Dec,2015

By Jaisurya Das


Welcome back friends. Its indeed super to see you back with us on Dear MxM, your favourite online counsellor, sounding board, mentor, funny bone and so on…!


It’s been a very interesting week to put it mildly..


From Sabu Cyril’s (Bahubali fame) fortress inspired mandap for the Malayali wedding of the year to Zuckenberg’s baby and charity pledge!


What an amazing paradox this is. Almost comical. One spends 50 crores on a set, the other decides to give away a fortune.


Well, Yehi Hai Duniya Meri Jaan!


I had occasion to see a video of this epic wedding and couldn’t help notice the 35,000 strong audience with their mouths open, gaping in sheer bewilderment ! Opulence at its best. The finest of cars, exquisite world cuisine, black cat bouncers, stage hydraulics, Antwerp diamonds resembling rocks and what have you.


Big enough to inspire Amul to create one of their inimitable ads.


Apparently, if you were at this wedding, you have moved a few notches higher in the echelons of society. Alas, I missed this opportunity and will have to be content with the weather down here. Damn!


Human perception, emotion and reaction are quite something really. I may have researched the functional brain for the past decade, yet somethings will never make sense to me..


Earlier today, I was reading some posts on my Facebook news feed and soon enough I ‘ liked ‘ quite a few of them. What is interesting about this wonderful button is that it can be used for almost everything !


I went back later today and realised that I had ‘ liked ‘ a post which wasn’t a happy one. It was about Chennai and nature’s wrath.


I didn’t mean to say i like this. I sympathise with this, Yes. Yet I did go at that button robotically.  Honestly, I am quite ashamed !


I returned to read all the posts in the past few days to see how people have reacted. From sombre announcements of someone passing away to terminal illness and grief, all had a huge number of ‘Likes ‘


Am truly confused.


Why would anyone like despair, agony, loss? I wonder if people have realised that ‘Like ‘ may not be the emotion that fits the situation at all. Probably ‘ Like ‘ for a lot of us implies that this post has been read.


I have learnt the hard way, that liking something need not mean i like that something. It could just mean that i liked that something because i read that something !


Uffff ! When will I learn the ways of the new order ?


Now, now that is likely to take a while so might as well get to your questions and our answers for the week.


Read on, it may help…


Yesterday, my boss asked me what my new year resolution is ? I evaded the answer saying it’s too early to do that. But would you advise a politically correct answer, because I don’t want it to impact my career. My colleague said “I want India to be a more tolerant nation” and he got a dressing down.

Why are you sounding so insecure my friend? Be yourself ! Believe me, this is an important quality that is sought after by many discerning leaders and companies.


Let me ask you a counter-question: What would you say if this same question was put to you by someone close to you?  Yes, you can send me a mail with your answer 🙂


Honestly, I am far from politically correct myself so my view may be far removed from what you call ideal. Having said this, I would urge you to just be normal and say what you would to any friend of yours.


Add a touch of humour and get the boss to smile, if not laugh. Sweet nothing will happen to your career.


Great careers are driven by craft my friend. Not bosses.


I have been working with a leading activation agency for the last five years. I now find that a lot of media and creative agencies getting into activation. Is better to work with them or in an agency like mine which is standalone?

This is a natural extension for their business. You have a set of clients and thus you expand your basket of offerings to include as many things as your client may need. In this case events and activation. That’s all there is to it.


From a client perspective, it all depends on who they are most comfortable working with. An existing relationship will always take precedence provided the rest of the parameters are more or less in place.


However, in the case of a new client, they would ideally look at a specialist in the business such as your agency, and hence this is the opportunity for you.


It may not be advisable to cry over the ones who have gone to the others. Isn’t this part and parcel of any competitive market scenario?


Unless there is competition, how would the clients benchmark and find you better?


So, walk with your head high, go after the ocean of client prospects who are there, and get them to experience activation managed by the experts.


All the very best to you and your agency !


I find that the owner of my media company has become a kind-of megalomaniac. He just doesn’t see reason and refuses to listen to people. Consequently the organisation has been making silly mistakes and could well lose its numero uno position. As a sincere employee of the organisation (maine yahaan ka namak khaya hai), I want to show the right path to the owner. How can I do it? Can I request you to do it?

Oh boy! So we have yet another case of the same story. I responded to similar queries just a couple of months back and hoped we don’t have any more, in the best interest of the media business.


All the same, here we are, and I sympathise with you on this concern.


This is most often the scene in companies where the second generation comes in with non-media expertise.


While the scions are more often than once, brilliant minds who come with strong academics and international exposure, the problem is that they begin to enjoy the comfort of a huge enterprise handed over on a platter.


What comes with this is also, a large number of sychophants, loose purse strings and the power to open any door.


This soon enough turns them into the ‘we know it all‘ breed which means that there isn’t any need to listen or learn anymore. The inherent strength of their brand is overestimated and it is believed to be an invincible winner always. With this heady a mix what can you expect, but another megalomaniac on the media horizon.


Megalomaniacs are termed such because, they are too full of themselves and consequently do not see reason in others view’s.


Unfortunate. but true. Even the largest empires can come crashing down..


Just a wee bit of advice to these scions: Work with your heart, not your chair. Listen to people, not your ego. Be simplistic always, for this is greatness!


Earn respect for your work, for your character and not for the position bestowed upon you.


And leave the rest to the supreme force above all of us.


Our’s is a digital company. But the boss and senior managers aren’t digitally savvy, except for Whatsapp and emailing. They tell us that it’s not necessary to know the ins and outs of technology to be in a tech company. What is your view, Sir?

Interesting question indeed. I wouldn’t entirely agree with their view because it’s important you are aware of the intricacies of the core business you are in.


However digital technology isn’t rocket science, and hence, can most certainly be learnt! I would imagine your colleagues who aren’t tech savvy are picking up the finer nuances as they go along.


Having said that, I must confess that a lot of us work with digital platforms and technology and yet are not techies by any flight of imagination! It greatly depends on which side of technology your work is focussed on. For instance, coding needs significant tech expertise. Content, on the other hand, requires skill and flair more than tech exposure.


More than anything else, do remember that its the individual and his craft that can sail through anything.


Having said this, I do hope i have satisfactorily confused you on this debate.


All the best to you, my friend !


Like all things good, this week’s MxM must end too….but not for long, for we will bounce back next Thursday ; Same space, 4 new questions and 4 damn good answers ! That’s a promise. All you need to do is send your question to and put Dear MxM in the subject line.


Have a smashing weekend and don’t forget to Do it all!


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