Sanjeev Kotnala: Digital D-Code: The Format is a Winner

09 Aug,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


The Advertising Club calendar added D-Code, the digital review to its two existing properties Media Review and Creative Review in its annual schedule of events. It may be a late addition. However, the new format Ad Club adapted for D-Code was worth the wait.



In the last two years, one must acknowledge that the functions planning, relevance and execution has much improved across the active bodies like The Advertising Club, AAAI and IAA. It takes much fun out of reviewing.


No, we did not start on time, and all the speakers did not adhere to time limits.  Some players did not use the time allotted, and that is as much of a crime as exceeding the allotted time.


No the third umpire and the timekeeper (Vikram Sakuja) was not ruthless enough in cutting the speakers who went overboard. I could sense his desire to stick to timelines and the hesitation at times in deciding to interrupt the speaker. However, then he had to play with the performance and sense the crowd interest. The onus of sticking to time rests with the speakers.


We started at 6:15pm, with the invite reading 5:30 onwards. If we cannot manage some sort of timeline adherence, people will start treating the ‘Onwards’ on the invite as a ‘plus one-hour’ indicator.  The early networking with the bar open made the wait a lot easier.



The format was excellent. 11 speakers* 10 minutes each. The presenters shared one of their successful Digital Intervention. It allowed a decent plug-in of their brand. They then shared another successful digital intervention that was not their doing. I do understand the dilemma speakers would have gone through while selecting the other digital intervention and presenting it with grace and respect they deserved. Additionally, each speaker shared three tips or learnings that have been working for them.



POINT 1.  Don’t throw away what you have learnt from traditional marketing practices. Don’t trust anyone who says they know everything about digital. POINT-II. Be more meaningful, don’t live in an ‘Industry bubble’.

POINT-III. Content should be opinionated, extreme (pro or anti).

POINT-IV.  Listen to what the consumer is saying in real time. Look for truth in humour and humour in the truth. Merge tech with ground-level consumer insights.

POINT-V.  Have a start-up mindset. Ask yourself what you would do if you weren’t allowed to make a film. Challenge the establishment. Always stay in Beta mode.

POINT-VI.  Invest in the right mar-tech tools, talent and partnerships.”

Always read the comments under your content/on social media.”



I must compliment the organising team on the selection of the speakers.

We will always have people commenting on what was excellent and what was terrible. What they liked? What they did not like? What kicked them? Who was a bore?

When anyone from the audience tries analysing the selection of speakers (including me), organisers, please ignore them and keep the good work. One will never be able to satisfy everyone, as the selection of speakers and their delivery is purely subjective.

Someone may not have liked Anupriya Acharya’s detailed presentation or Rahul Johri rambling. It does not make their contribution any less. Tanmay Bhatt’s presentation floored most of the audience.  He is a stage presenter who knows a trick or two and has a licence to present in a way most corporates would not be able to do.



The list of presenters is already up at the Ad Club site. It will be a good idea if these case studies and links are available on the site. In fact, these in any way represent the best India has to offer, so a compilation as an e-book will not be out of place.



The format is excellent and the ultimate winner. Most of the audience had at least a few examples and learning’s that made them think. May be it’s time that Ad Club revisits and does a clinical rethink on the Media Review and Creative Review formats. You have raised our expectations, and we know you will once again surprise us by making the reviews that more relevant and impactful.



* INAUGURAL D-CODE SPEAKER LIST.  This list is subjective. It is in the order of impact they made on me and hence debatable on many counts. Arun Iyer. Siddharth Banerjee, Ajit Mohan. Juhi Kalia. Tanmay Bhat.  Sapna Chadha. Sam Singh. Anuradha Aggarwal. Anupriya Acharya. Mohit Kapoor. Rahul Johri.


Senior marketing and strategy consultant and educator, Sanjeev Kotnala writes weekly on MxMIndia at ‘Kotmartial’. The views here are personal. ‘Kotmartial’ appears every Wednesday, but to a tech glitch (or miss!), this column didn’t appear yesterday.



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