Big creative agencies, beware. MTV can do your job, cheaper

07 May,2019


At the Creative Abby awards at Goafest 2019, Viacom18 bagged the coveted Creative Company of the Year pipping legacy agency brands in the rankings roster. MxMIndia caught up with Navin Shenoy, Head Marketing of Youth, Music and English Entertainment at Viacom18 to get his views on the win….


MxMIndia: You should be celebrating, instead you are looking very serious?


Navin Shenoy: Me? I am always a serious kind of a guy.


Congratulations on being the Creative Company of the Year at the Abby at Goafest.

Thank you so much. We are very thrilled at this. We got a fantastic team back at MTV and I think we have been in a period of transition for a while now. And finally, all of this is coming together. It’s working out for us. So, we are really thrilled. The whole team is over the moon.


We have always known MTV to be a frontrunner in terms of creative output. You do think out of the box etc. But to be the creative company of the year at the Abby is dramatic. You have many creative biggies participating – okay, not all of them, and there are digital agencies. As a marketer, can you assess this and put in reference to the rest of the industry?

Well, I think all the old structures are changing massively in terms of how a marketer should look at the options in terms of partners. I think for us everybody is competition. Advertising agencies are competition, media agencies are competition. We are currently in a place where we are able to provide a full 360-degree solution. We are able to provide creative, we are able to provide inventory and media, we are able to provide customised solutions, we have an insights studio which gives great insights into youth. So, I think there is a lot of hard work that has gone behind pulling this together and I think it’s come at a great time for us. It gives us more impetus to take this forward.


¥ou have worked across the spectrum in terms of organisations, FMCGs, telcos etc. Since you have got an award like this do you see other organisations also doing the same… get into creative mode?

Yeah. Sure. I think innovation is now a given. Earlier, it used to be 20% of what possibly organisations used to do. I think unless you’re innovative and creative an organisation is more likely to be built to crash. The earlier paradigms that were built to last are far gone. Most organisation are built to crash if they are not built for innovation or creativity. And I think this is an important lesson for everybody saying that you need to keep re-inventing yourself. It’s unlikely that the same framework will be used for evaluation. What’s going to happen is that media, digital, creative, marketing, all of those technology, all of those are likely to collapse into a single sort of structure. And whichever organisations are best placed to take advantage of that are the ones who are likely to win, and we are hoping to be one of those. Hopefully this award sets us on the path forward.


You have also worked with agencies in the past. Do you think that there is a message here for the traditional agencies? Today, you have won the Creative Abby. Tomorrow, you could be winning the Effies?

Right. Definitely there is a message for everyone, including us. You would have heard of Accenture buying Droga5. Now, Drog5 is a creative hotshop and Accenture is known for its consulting jobs. Now what’s happening is an Accenture is actually looking at the other end of the spectrum and they have acquired a Droga5 to try and play the whole spectrum. Similarly, we seem to be in a great position now, to be able to play the whole creative to media spectrum. So, the message – rather a lesson – for every other company is that if you end up being unidimensional, you are not innovating, you are not able to provide across the spectrum, it’s likely to be a sign that you are going to struggle in the times to come.


But does this also put pressure on you? Because till now, you were concerned about television and other platforms. Does this now put a new kind of pressure on you – of achieving the impossible on the creative front

Yeah. It does, but we love this pressure. We think we are doing some great work and hopefully there will be other people who will believe so as well. And we love this pressure and we are going to take this to a whole new level. And I believe in the next 12-24 months MTV is poised to take this up quite a few notches.


Winners at Goafest Abby also go on to enter other awards. Are you looking at trying elsewhere too?

Of course, we are. Our ambitions are sky high. Recognition is a byproduct. We intend to do world class work that cuts it across the board on all platforms and Cannes would be an important platform. So, like I said in the next 12-24 months we are expecting to do work that is global, that is hitting global standards, that is setting the standards for other brands and in that sense hopefully Cannes will be one of the byproducts.


For the benefit of people who are not aware of things, how large is your creative team?

Well, we have got an interesting bunch of people there. I think the diversity and the width is what makes us unique. We have got a set of people who are craft-driven, people who are production- and creative- and video- driven. So, that’s one unique perspective that we bring to the table. We have got a set of people who are brand solutions-driven… who are creative but can think, like say, what a classical traditional agency might think? We have got a set of marketers who think for the business and finally, we have got a set of research people who are part-anthropologists, part-media experts, part-youth experts and these are people who bring pure life insights to the table. I think the potent mix is when we bring all four of these together and we put a solution on the table, or we put any output on the table. Whether it’s for brand MTV or whether it’s for a brand who has come to us for a customised solution. I think that is really the X factor that is giving us the edge.


So how large is your team?

This is a totally a team of around 30 people. We prefer to keep it lean. We are very picky about the people we chose to be in this crack team. But yeah, it’s working for us well. As the business expands, hopefully, we will add more people to the team.


Lean? Thirty people makes to be the size of a smallish agency. Are you open to doing to work for others as well?

Of course, we are. You know, as I met other people at the Goafest this time, I have been telling them that as I have been hearing them go to production houses with ideas where they have struggled to manage costs. I think one of the things, that is happening is on an average a marketer is getting an ad film for, let’s say, Rs 50-70 lakhs in the ballpark. And I think we can do a very good job of this because we are in an ecosystem. We do it for our own brand and for other brand as brand solutions. So, I have been telling a lot of my friends in creative agencies, all my friends in marketing organisations that they should look at us as an option.


So could well be providing some competition to the existing biggies?

Absolutely. Why not?



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