- As brands tightened their purse strings, the
advertising agencyindustry had to resort to salary cuts or worse, lay off upto 30%.
- Digital agency
Gozoopon the other hand is sailing through the macro challenges just fine.
- Apart from winning new businesses and avoiding salary cuts, the agency is also welcoming new people into its family.
- We caught up with
Rohan Bhansali, Co-Founder & Director, Gozoop to find out how the agency is up and running despite the challenges.
However, digital agency Gozoop has a different story to tell. While it did see revenue take a plunge in the first few days of COVID and the lockdown when brands curtailed their marketing budgets, it decided not to lay off employees or even deduct their salaries. In fact, Gozoop is looking for more people to join its family in departments like Account Management, Account Planning and Media. Its personnel headcount has also increased significantly in the last few months. As a result, the agency found their employees’ morale boosted and productivity started going up.
Gozoop is also winning new businesses at a time when the market isn’t particularly performing well. In the last few months, it has bagged marquee brands such as Bisleri, Gulf Oil, Oppo, to name a few.
Spilling the secret mantra, Rohan Bhansali, Co-Founder & Director, Gozoop, said the agency was founded in 2008, in the midst of another recession and tenacity is what keeps them anchored in chaos.
He said, “Tenacity has been embedded into our DNA. And I must say the team has put up a valiant effort at all levels. The wins you mention are just the more tangible derivatives of our efforts. But what’s brewing internally – the culture, the pride, the deepening client relationships, the broadening business moats – is much more potent for the long-haul success we envision.”
Bhansali added, “Strong brand understanding coupled with strong digital understanding is evidently becoming the reason why more and more marquee brands such as Bisleri, Gulf Oil and Oppo chose Gozoop as their custodians. We will be announcing more venerable brand mandates in the next few weeks.”
Moreover, the agency is also seeing signs of early business recovery.
“A lot of agencies with weaker balance sheets (including some network agencies) have shut shop and seen massive business disruptions due to cash flows, and also culture disruptions due to salary and job cuts. We promised no Covid related job cuts as early as April and have not felt the need to undertake any salary cut measures. We are definitely seeing a revival uptick as we settle into the new normal. July is better than June, which in turn was better than May. Having said that, the macro economic situation is such that revenues and business sentiments will take some more time to reach pre-Covid levels,” said Bhansali.
Changing pitching process
Zeroing down the business problem and pitching just the right solution takes a lot of time. Over the years, agencies have time and again complained about the complexities of the pitching process because it leads to idea theft and burns a hole in their pockets. Now that everything is virtual, how possible is it to deep-dive and step in the client’s shoes?
Bhansali said the pitching process hasn’t been affected at all, just the medium has changed. He explained, “We do a thorough deep-dive into the brand we are pitching too. The process starts with a thorough interview of the brand manager. Many times we are asked, “Why are you going so deep? This is just a digital pitch.” After we are done cringing, we humbly excuse ourselves from that pitch as the brand wouldn’t add to our vision. Fortunately, brands are increasingly looking at digital agencies as fundamental brand custodians. From a delivery perspective, video pitches have now become mainstream. We had adopted video meetings way before COVID to keep our cost efficiencies in check, so we didn’t have to adjust significantly.”
The problem of idea theft and low-balling from the client's side still persists. Gozoop is trying to stay away from such under-appreciative clients. .
“From our own experience, and from conversations I have had with founders of other agencies, we are noticing that there is a spectrum of brands that are calling for pitches with low commitments of closing. Or with the intent of closing with the agency that quotes the lowest, which deeply commoditises the craft of marketing. We are doing our best to stay away from such pitches. I think our industry needs to do massive rethinking about how we approach pitches. The quantum of time and genius spent inefficiently is staggering,” shared Bhansali.
Clients expectations have changed, too. They are more conscious about every penny they spend. Apart from that, there is an increasing focus on MarTech.
“Brands have upped their ante in Performance Marketing. And so have we. I am bullish on MarTech and how they are going to shape campaigns. We have been investing heavily into training our team and building partnerships in MarTech,” said Bhansali.
The biggest silver lining
COVID-19 did accelerate the adoption of
“This has been the biggest silver lining. Brands and businesses are looking at digital with a deservedly higher reverence today. I, not so humbly, believe that they should have done this in a pre-pandemic world too. Perception has followed reality and Digital has risen up on the value chain. Where we were once talking to Digital Managers, we are not talking to CMOs. And where we once talked to CMOs, we are now talking to CEOs,” beams Bhansali.
The efficacy of digital has never been a secret but brands are increasingly realising its potential now. With this, Bhansali says with greater conviction that digital spends will soon surpass traditional mediums.
“Digital spends already surpassed that of Print. TV spends still dominate in India. But the pandemic has provided the conditions for Digital Spends to surpass TV. Digital will win share from TV, Print and Outdoors. Of course, I am biased. Only this time with greater conviction.”
Speaking of another trend that will take over digital industry, Bhansali shared, “From an industry perspective, while consolidation will surely happen, the more purpose-driven founders will think hard before partnering with a network. It is no secret how many network agencies executed pay cuts and job cuts as early as April itself. One even let go off 30% of its staff on a day’s notice without any severance. While I personally find this ridiculous, I can comprehend why they do it - they have to be Shareholder and share price first. Independents can afford to stay People first. I believe a new era of consolidation amongst independents will emerge. We hope to share some developments on this soon.”
COVID has also made the industry leaders reconsider their priorities and alter business strategies. On a personal front, Bhansali says the pandemic has taught him the biggest lesson of compassion and importance of uplifting each other.
He said, “All of us are fighting some silent battle or the other. While in the context of work, we should surely expect the best out of each other, we need to also hold space for compassion and understanding.
Beyond learnings I have had many revalidations – think long-term, build a great culture, worship cash flows, have a good internet connection, try to be the best human being you can.”