Riding high in Nepal

05 Dec,2016

 

Ujaya Shakya is Vice-president of the Advertising Association of Nepal and Founder and Managing Director of the Outreach Group. With over 15 years of experience in the field of management, strategic 360-degree communication/ branding and social communication development, Shakya

heads one of the largest communication groups in Nepal, with dedicated vertical units in activation, rural communication and visual merchandising, digital and social media optimization, PR and event management. With much new innovation to his credits, he has been able to made a name for himself in both corporate and development sector communication alike. He has assisted several brands to establish successfully in Nepal. His first book, ‘Brandsutra’ on branding and advertising was published last year.

Last week, Outreach bagged a bronze at the Campaign India Agency of the Year awards. A quick Q&A with Ujaya Shakya…

 

Congratulations on winning a bronze for the South Asian Independent Agency of the Year.  It’s the first big award for a Nepal agency, so what does it mean for Outreach Nepal and the Nepal advertising industry as a whole?

Thank you on behalf of team Outreach. This is definitely a big recognition for our advertising community in the region and I would like to share this achievement with our team, clients, media partners and Nepalese ad fraternity. This award is not just an achievement for Team Outreach, it marks a beginning for the Nepalese advertising industry in the international arena. The award has boosted our morale and motivated us to work even harder to make our mark further in the region.

 

Although we have had many ad industry folk visiting Nepal for the various events some of which have been organised by you, we don’t know too much about the industry in Nepal? Can you give us some idea of the scene there?

Nepal is a very young country with over 72% population below 35 years, who are open to new ideas. They like to accept new trends in communication. The media landscape of the country is also drastically changing and it is an exciting time to showcase your creativity and the right strategies. There is more audience segmentation today than there was before with more specialised media content. There is 90% mobile penetration and it is increasing every year with a rise in the demand for smartphones. Internet penetration is almost 40%, one of the highest in the region with data prices going down and soon 4G service is expected to get launched. We have about 6.7 million Facebook users registered from Nepal and Viber already has about 4.5 million registered users in Nepal. With these changing dynamics, Nepal’s advertising industry is up for a radical change in the near future and I see a future for media neutral ideas where the key strategy will be to integrate different media to arrive at impactful results.

At the same time, rural opportunities are not to be neglected. As much as 80% of the population resides in rural Nepal as per the government census figures and the recent spurt in the increase of rural household income, particularly owing to the rising contribution of remittance which is more than 25% of Nepal’s GDP today, is leading to rising aspiration for a higher standard of life among the rural people. Increasing lifestyle orientation of rural audiences due to media penetration within Nepal and the exposure received by their family members now residing in the Middle East or Southeast Asian metropolitan cities further activate this consumerist demand for a higher lifestyle.

Other factors like relatively high inflation in agricultural products and increasing literacy level is also helping the rural people to increase their purchasing power. To top it all, increasing road accessibility is helping brands to reach them and high penetration of mobile phones is also turning them into a vibrant consumption segment of the country that cannot be neglected by any national-level brand. All these provide a background for the positive trends in our vibrant advertising economy in the coming years.

 

Why do you say that your advertising industry is still so small there?

Nepal is largely a trading-based economy, which make it obvious for most marketers to think tactically and less thematically. But, things have been changing lately and many domestic brands and even key multinational brands now want to invest in creating brand stories that are relevant to Nepal. There are examples of a few groundbreaking works in recent times, which are based on enduring partnerships between clients and their agencies. So this is an exciting time for our industry.

 

Is it also a function of talent… save a few like you, most of the bright media professionals leave the country for the West or for India?

Right, talent is always a problem and there is a culture of young minds leaving the country. But many new youngsters are also getting into entrepreneurial ventures, which is very good for our business. We regularly approach B-schools and other institutes within Nepal to hunt for next bright mind to join us in our team. In fact, a bunch of youngsters have joined our team after studying in the UK, Australia and India. We have also been providing internship opportunities for young students to work in our organisations at regular intervals.

 

Is the local industry and are marketers confident of the creative output, or will we see Indian ad professionals being taken there to produce?

There are a couple of advertising professionals from India, who have been working in Nepal for sometime now. But I feel that now that we have a crop of youngsters interested in making their career in the local advertising world, many of whom are educated outside Nepal but are joining the Kathmandu advertising circle, the future is bright for their leadership. There are already many films being produced here locally for multinational brands.Also many new campaign ideas, which are relevant to Nepal, are being executed with great success.

 

Tell us more about Outreach Nepal. Who are your key clients, since how long have you been in existence, agency size and where you stand in the pecking order in Nepal?

Outreach Nepal is an advertising agency with the prime focus of providing “Business Driven Creative Ideas”. The team comprises experienced, committed and dedicated young minds with a firm belief in teamwork, sharing thoughts and generating creative ideas that sell. The agency has a proven track record of producing and facilitating business ideas and strategic inputs for clients since 2003.

We are among the top agencies in the country with a full-fledged team structure in placed to provide solution in creative, strategy, media, digital PR & events. Our team believes in media neutral ideas that can bring discernible positive results for our clients’ business.

Unlike traditional agency practices, we have many examples in our portfolio where we are involved in the strategic planning process with the client as their true brand custodian. To compliment and seize the opportunities, we pioneered in starting new trends in advertising business by introducing dedicated vertical units specialised in activation and visual merchandising, Digital and Social Media Optimisation, PR & Event Management and as Outreach Group we have over 110 full-time employees.

 

What are your plans and targets for the next year? Any plans for affiliations/joining hands with international agencies?

I am currently trying to enhance the exposure of my team to global trends so they can replicate similar success stories for our clients in the Nepal market. I strongly believe that if we have the opportunities to keep updating ourselves, we will learn many new things. Learning is a major KPI in our team’s performance today.

We have been holding discussions with some key international agencies for some time now. We are open to any idea that will be a win-win proposition. We have local expertise and a huge amount of experience in this market, which will definitely have a multiplier effect.

 

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