Winning across 3 days gave us a lot of pleasure: Pratap Bose

10 Apr,2017

We’re going to do well at Goafest this year, Pratap Bose, Chairman and Co-Founder of The Social Street had told us before we left for Goa last week. The shortlists were good indicators that Social Street would do well, but being #2 in the metals tally? Well, he proved the naysayers wrong and also confirmed the point that you don’t have to be 10-20-40-70-year-old agency to be winning big at the Abby. In conversation with Pradyuman Maheshwari, Pratap Bose talks about the wins, scam work, the focus on print and the way forward for his agency. Read on…


Just your second year in business and already right up there!

We’re actually only 20 months old. It’s an amazing feeling. We’ve worked very hard to get where we are, at Goafest particularly. It’s been like a David versus Goliath story. The underdogs if you can call it that. All kudos to the team who’ve made it possible.


You’re not actually an underdog. You’ve been there, done that. You know the…

People wouldn’t have expected us to do that well at Goafest. But you’re right, we’re not an underdog. We are industry veterans. But yes, for a small agency to do so well at Goafest is a great sense of pride and achievement.


You’ve done it in the past at Mudra when you were helming it. You obviously know how it works. So when did you decide to play the Goafest game?

Honestly, it’s not just about playing the game well. It’s also about doing great work. If you look at our wins, we’ve won in pretty much all of the major 14-17 categories. So, it’s always good work at that pace. To win you have to start very early in the year. You can’t just leave it to December and then scramble at the end. Producing good stuff all throughout the year. That gives you the humongous tally of metals at the end of the day. That’s something I keep advocating to the people who want to do well at the awards. You have to be at it. You have to have a dogged goal to do great work. I don’t think we do great work to win awards. You have to do consistent work month-on-month and produce two-three great pieces of work every month and if you measure yourself with that benchmark, you’ll certainly do well.


In terms of the work you’ve done… you’ve said in the past you’re not just an outdoor agency, you’ve done a fair bit of work for print and print-craft.

Yes, we’ve done a lot for print and print-craft outdoor, even won a lot of metals for digital, branded content, PR, our strong units are out of home, promo and activation is where we score very high… so, yes, the results in terms of where we’ve won the metals is indicative of how wide our network is in terms of our integrated offerings across all verticals. That has paid dividends for sure.


But is print one of your core strengths?

It’s not, but we had a lot of fun doing print advertisements for clients and we won on big clients. We’ve won big for brands like Aegon Religare, IDBI.


I must tell you that there’s a charge that a lot of work you’ve done is scam work.

Scam is a dirty work. Sometime proactive. If any agency tells you they haven’t done proactive work, they’re lying through their teeth. There’s always a bit of it. If your main body of work… and this is not just the awards, because every day when you go to office for clients you don’t always do award work. But, yes, sometimes the work is proactive and you’ve made a lot of efforts with the client to say, let’s enter this field in this direction. It ticks all the boxes in terms of the parameters in which you have to enter. It has to be published, approved, released. I don’t like this scam word though I said it. Sometimes you do work that motivates the team and sometimes you have clients that allow you to do that.


You’ve won some 40 metals in creative. And you’ve some metals at the Media Abby as well. How many of these are for genuine work?

Most of them are. What gives me a lot of pleasure is winning across three days. While a lot of hoo-haa is done about a lot of creative agencies and media separately. We don’t have a very large media offering. We have a small media offering but it’s a great offering. But, to be honest, no agency has won across Goafest for three days. Maybe, one or two. So, that gives us a lot of pride. So, to answer your question, most of it is on large brands.


Your strategy until now has been to fashion yourself more than just an outdoor and activation agency. But if you have to look at your play in the last three months, how have you fared by your own assessment?

So we are just under two years now and if you read the book by Tom Peters, ‘Thriving on Chaos’, I think that’s what we went through. Because we’ve grown very rapidly. We have 180 people now. That’s a lot of people in these two years. But ultimately the true value that Social Street will derive in terms of where it’s going to be positioned and seen in the area of a highly creative company, backed by data, analytics, content, we’re looking at production services and we’re also looking at partnering and opening a few JVs outside of the country. I think that’s really how I see it.


And how are the financials looking?

I think we’re doing very well. As I said, we’re just under two years and this is a very important year, financially. By all indications it looks good. So, hoping for a great year ahead.


When you were at Mudra, the great wins helped it get acquired by Omnicom. While you’re ou’re already funded. Are you going to use it to any advantage in terms of more investments

Not really. Metals at Goafest don’t get you any VC funding. I can tell you that. It rewards you for the work you’ve done. It’s a recognition that we are now a force to reckon with in the awards scenario. Not just the creative awards, we’re also doing well at the Effies, Emvies and internationally at Cannes as well. But there’s no extra funding for winning metals at award functions.


You mentioned about the David v/s Goliath analogy. How have the Goliaths been with you so far?

We’ve received a lot of love and affection, to be honest. When you get on your own, people wish the independent agencies well, by and large. When you’re a part of a large network, you have a lot of competition and crab crawling. But we don’t have that at all. The industry is also happy for us and wishes us well.


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