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In its one year of existence, 82.5 Communications has pitched to 11 clients and bagged nine in its kitty

82.5 Communications pivots from its open-source model, restricts itself to WPP partners only

In its one year of existence, 82.5 Communications has pitched to 11 clients and bagged nine in its kitty
  • In its one year of existence, 82.5 Communications has pitched to 11 clients and bagged nine in its kitty.
  • From bringing a team together with different backgrounds to immersing themselves in the wide spectrum of Indian culture, the founders of 82.5 Communications walk us through their personal journeys on the agency's first anniversary.
  • Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CCO and Kapil Arora, Co-chairman & CEO shared with us the reason behind pivoting from outsourcing non-WPP partners, the decision to adopt a new ‘elbows-in-approach’ of getting to know consumers, and roadmap ahead.
WPP's one-year-old 82.5 Communications, an Ogilvy group agency, started out with an open-source model. The initial plan was to outsource a few services from different partners, as per client’s needs.

Mid-way in its journey, the founders realised the pitfalls of out-sourcing. The agency had kept brand custodianship, strategy and content expertise in-house, while working with partners who offered allied services in media, social, PR, retail and activation. However, the agency is pivoting from its open-source model by closing it to the circle of partners within WPP.

Explaining why the agency decided to take a detour from its original model, Kapil Arora, Co-chairman & CEO, 82.5 Communications said, “Bringing many cultures of people together, who have a disparate opinion from one another, was very difficult. And while we remained the custodian, we didn't necessarily have control on the final output of what the others were doing. So we pivoted around six months ago, we said open platform still makes sense. We can't build everything ourselves. But let's move that open-platform to within WPP.”

He adds, “So now our ecosystem that we've been building over the last four to six months and successfully so -- as a couple of the wins and businesses that we work on -- is because we work with like-minded partners within WPP. We have people who are culturally amenable to us and the way we approach brands as well.”

While the agency changed its route six months ago, Arora said that more details will be shared with the media after they build their new ecosystem completely.

After on-boarding Rishabha Nayyar as National Planning Lead, the agency will also follow an ‘elbows-in approach to brands.’ It will concentrate on getting to know the consumers under the skin. The conversations with the consumers and clients will be in-depth and the focus will be to maintain the cultural nuances in its final output.

Ingenious Ideas

In a year of its existence, WPP’s 82.5 Communications has truly carved out a niche for itself by promising ingenious Indian ideas, so much so that they reinvented the 4 P’s of marketing mix and gave it a ‘desi twist’ by calling it SEV, which stands for Solve consumer’s problem, Engage your consumer, Value their money.

The agency has built a profile of India-first businesses that resonates with its positioning. Its clientele includes ITC, Bisleri, Himalaya Herbals, Wipro, Cera, Lava, Havells, Luminous, ACC Cement, Nestle MILO, Haldirams, RSPL group, Campus Shoes and Pearson Education, to name a few.

“We had said we are an India-first agency talking to this entire opportunity of ‘India first’. Now if you look at our profile of the clients, not one year down the line, 90% of our clients are India-first. As large as the Himalayas and the ITCs of the world and as small as a brand called Jeeru, which sells in Bombay and Gujarat,” shares Arora, who is proud and content with the agency’s growth.

Talking about the variety of ads they worked on and how they add an Indian twist to it, Arora said, “Our idea of India is not just one. We tip into cultural nuances, we tipped into Ayurveda, which is about our heritage, we tip into current issues, which is about fake forwards. So we're looking at a spectrum of what India stands for today; and not just one stereotype, at least that is our endeavour.”

Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Ogilvy India and CCO - Worldwide, feels that 82.5 Communications has opened up new opportunities for the entire network.

He said, “Sometimes the clients of smaller scale think that Ogilvy is too big for me without even talking to us. 82.5 Communications has been able to reach out to those clients, one-on-one and together.”

On working under Ogilvy’s halo, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & CCO, said, “I always believe that as a human being, your strength is also your weakness. When I was asked to do this, people said that I don’t need to worry because I have Ogilvy behind me, which is a boon but at the same time, people say ‘you are an Ogilvy number two’. And that is definitely not the space that we wanted to be in. We wanted to be an agency of our own name and own right.”

Amongst its four branches dwelling in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata, Chattopadhyay says that Delhi has been the fastest-growing branch, as it grew by 70% in the last two months.

Language-first approach

82.5 Communications will now focus on building language capability which is beyond translation or transliteration.

“We have already built in-house language thinking expertise beyond Hindi and English, starting with Bengali, Marathi and Tamil. This repertoire will continue to increase through a mix of in-house talent and a circle of friends from the local film and theatre circuits. These are not employees but friends of the agency who tap into the voices of culture today. The Nestle Milo example was a first in that direction,” shares Arora.

Arora concluded the conversation by highlighting the advantages of being a small agency.

He said, “I think we are and will continue to be a work-in-progress agency. I think our strength is to be able to pivot and change and give you new models. Again and again and again, with your small scale, that's what allows you to do that as long as we keep the fundamentals and our foundation strong.”
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