The World's Leading Independent Agencies: Scarecrow

Bhat, Sengupta and Bhatt (l-r)…"there is a link between speed of thinking and the speed of your agency’s growth."
Bhat, Sengupta and Bhatt (l-r)…"there is a link between speed of thinking and the speed of your agency’s growth."

Sponsored Content: In today's scenario, speed of thought is the key to generating buzz and energy, but a client that can approve creative quickly is equally important

Maybe we are setting ourselves up for a furious attack by the digital natives, but we honestly thought Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet "you can still dunk in the dark" was a pretty average creative idea.

No matter how much we try, it’s difficult to imagine that the creative fraternity will ever regard the creator of the Oreo Tweet with the kind of awe and respect they would accord the creators of Honda’s "cog." Or Sony’s PlayStation 2 ads. Or some of the Nike work.

At a glance

Founded 2010

Principals Raghu Bhat, co-founder and director; Manish Bhatt, co-founder and director; Arunava Sengupta, co-founder and director

Staff 68

Locations Mumbai, Delhi

Tell us your favourite smartphone apps Fifa Dream League; Facebook; Tumblr

What’s the biggest issue for marketers? In India, push and distribution have driven market share; the reach of a campaign was vital. Though usage of mobile phones has increased, marketers mostly look at digital as a way to reach consumers, so digital is largely a reminder medium. Consumers are rejecting far-fetched ad claims too. Brands face a dilemma: is functional advertising better than telling consumers how a brand will change their life?

From a creative perspective, it was just about OK. Its success felt a bit like the movie "The Artist," with its rather convenient plot points, creating a sensation at the Oscars. After all, there was no insight. No breathtaking lateral creative leap. No executional brilliance.

Even the actual numbers were nothing to write home about, in the beginning. About 15,000 fans retweeted the picture. That is 0.00033 per cent of people who watched the Super Bowl. No doubt, 15,000 is a good number, but Wayne Rooney gets about 20,000 retweets just for "Good win today."

But does that even matter, because this is what happened: BuzzFeed mentioned it, which got 300,000 to 400,000 views, soon followed by CNet and Mashable. This kicked off a chain reaction, and the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post took it up. Then the trade media published it – Advertising Age and Adweek.

So it wasn’t something that a large mass of Oreo consumers saw, loved and propagated. Rather, the "virality" was fuelled by a handful of outlets with access to eyeballs and the means to create initial momentum. We can call them "opinion banks."

People say that the Internet has made it possible for every person to voice his or her opinion. Maybe – but the amount of people who voice opinions or share/like is a minuscule percentage of those who just listen to opinions. There is a huge mass of passive-content consumers on the net. They donate free views and hits on an hourly basis – and opinion banks can control them even more easily than in the past as accessing them is cheaper.

The perception of initial momentum created by virtual opinion banks is something brands can leverage. More media impressions per second is the new barometer of creative. More media impressions per second at a lower cost is even better. Which brings us to the question: How can a creative agency help?

One answer lies in structuring the agency around proactive thinking – proactive thinking of the entire team, both creative and account management, and not always waiting for the client brief. At Scarecrow, we created a TV ad for the online classifieds site Quikr within 72 hours of the Indian Premier League match-fixing scandal erupting. We could do that because the creative team looked at the environment as a creative brief.

It’s important to create an ecosystem that maximizes your chances of doing a "dunk in the dark." Celebrate speed of thinking within the agency, as there is a direct link between speed of thinking and the speed of your agency’s growth.

Real-time creativity is not possible unless the client can approve creative ideas within minutes or hours. When ideas get implemented quickly, it creates a certain energy and buzz that generates even more ideas.

Equally important is networking with the owners of opinion banks, bloggers and web influencers. Ultimately, creativity is subjective. And the chances of influencers liking your material are much higher if they know you and like you; it’s as important as chasing that artwork deadline.

Another thing to remember is that there are no rules in today’s world. We have seven e-commerce clients and 65% of our clients are start-ups. But we don’t even have a "proper" website. Is there a contradiction here? Maybe.

But we can tell you two things: new-business leads keep flowing into our mailbox; and most of our new clients ask for a face-to-face meeting as they cannot find enough information about us on our website.

Is that the Indian way of doing search? Some of our clients say: "Facebook posts don’t work." They are right. Some say they do. Like we said – nobody knows. Question everything. Form your own conclusions.

Raghu Bhat, Arunava Sengupta and Manish Bhatt are co-founders and directors of Scarecrow

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