2021: Same Coin (2020) Different Side. Maybe A Little Shinier?

December 28, 2021
Savio Joseph

When the calendar turned 1st January 2021, we all just hoped the world would get back to its usual old normal, but that’s not what happened. As it turns out, there was a lot more for one to experience.

The good thing about 2020 (I know there was nothing good about it) was  how the team was able to adapt itself to working remotely, which gave us some flexibility as an organisation to onboard talent from any part of the country (we ended up hiring a few from different cities) 

As a business, we ended 2020 on a high. We released our last film at 10pm on 31st December Har Ghar Ka Desh Bhar Ka With the momentum being very much on our side, the hope of ‘new year, better us’ seemed very much achievable. Things did go well, until you started seeing people around you get caught by the virus (including me in February) which meant that all this was far from over. Covid recovery is not a 2 week long process but does take months! That was my big learning experience.

With the new season of IPL scheduled for April 2021, Paytm approached us for a series of 6 films. We ideated, locked-in scripts, and got into production, all within the span of just one week! This was also the time when the number of cases was continuously rising (end of March) and a lockdown seemed inevitable. One of the concerns we had was how to make sure that we delivered the creatives, given the inventory was already booked. The team did manage to pull off magic (in a literal sense) and the films were handed over on time. Sharing a couple of them, Film 1 & Film 2,  and then came the lockdown. A year later we are back to where we began! And along the same time, we were also entrusted with development of the launch film for Junio 

Once the lockdown was eased, we managed to get 2 more campaigns shot with minimal crew and all precautions (Paytm Referral & Country Delight) At times the ‘Jugaad’ of getting things done in this country is a skill second to none. Sometime in July we got the opportunity to pitch for one of the biggest brands in the fintech space and we had to work out of our skins to make this turn in our favour. Everyone worked hard enough to let the team on the other side know we were the right custodians. The brand being Razorpay

I feel in our line of work it’s very easy for one to get sucked into the rut of ‘just getting things done’ if one doesn’t end up doing different things differently. I am glad 2021 did provide us with that opportunity at regular intervals. Our creative team, especially the design team kept pushing boundaries and coming up with newer ideas (On brands like (Femina, Filmfare, Razorpay) The biggest challenge one faces today is time, how fast can you turn things around without dropping the ball, we were largely successful and hope to improve it with time. 

With the need for content increasing across platforms/brands (basically everyone wants content) agencies who have been in this business for the longest time are well poised to drive part of that demand. The content (ads) currently being created by agencies is commissioned by the client. Maybe it’s a good time to drive your own IPs ? If you can convey a story in 30 secs, 3 hours is a good challenge. Remember how many bigwigs in advertising moved towards feature films? Also, not to forget the ever-changing landscape thanks to technology and now with blockchain being seen on every second slide of a PPT. 

We are winding the year up with one of our biggest projects to date. The first film is out; the rest of the 5 will release over a period of time which can also be seen on TV! Also, in the pipeline are some more exciting campaigns which will unfold early next year. 

Few takeaways from the year (some gyaan)  

1. In the specialist world, being a generalist still works. Especially in the communication business. Case in point : How the big ships at a point in time assumed ‘digital’ was a fad and wouldn’t be here for long? You never know what will hit you next. Be flexible

2. Things are very democratised today as compared to earlier days. If you have a good idea (and you can execute it) you have a seat on the table.

3. Talent, the agency's biggest asset is running away from the business. Maybe not to your competition, but to a different sector (This is an industry-level problem) 

4. This continues to be a business of relationship and trust. Nothing replaces that. Continue keeping your word and you will be good

Hope to take these learnings and maybe add more in 2022, but my biggest wish remains that we go back to ‘precedented times’ and ‘Can you hear me’ is said in person and not over the screen!