Ad land’s Young Guns: Chanda Sarma, WATConsult

With over eight years of experience in the space of Digital Advertising, Chanda Sarma has worked with over 150 brands and has serviced clients from various sectors, including Automotive, Hospitality, BFSI, Consumer Durables and Fashion. 

Having made a transit from copy and communications to hardcore account management with an interim spell on the brand side as well, she has had exposure towards not just creative strategy and social media, but media planning, data analytics, mainline advertising and heavy-duty technology projects. 

Currently as Group Account Manager at WATConsult, Sarma has the opportunity of working with some of the best brands in India and the horizons have broadened.  Her last stint at MagnonTBWA as an Account Director helped her to explore beyond the Digital medium and gave her an opportunity to understand how network agencies function. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Chanda Sarma in her own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I tiptoed in the Digital Marketing world rather incidentally. As I was exploring opportunities where I could put my writing skills to work, I found the emerging social media marketing scene in late 2000’s just the right fit to build on. At that time, I thought of creative writing as my core strength, but soon realised that strategising and client servicing suited me even better. My current position of a Group Account Manager is a direct result of almost a decade long experience of conceptualising and executing scores of campaigns for some of the leading brands I serviced in the digital advertising space. While I did test waters at the client side, I found my calling on the agency side. Back in 2016, after a couple of very exciting years at MagnonTBWA, I felt I was ready to take on a set of wider responsibilities and accepted the offer from WATConsult. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
While this can be better answered by my clients and my team, I believe being a people’s person is central to the responsibilities I am entrusted with. Yes, it helps to be equipped with a creative head and the confidence to check the depth of the water with both feet comes handy while managing crisis. I would still consider interpersonal skills and ROI analysis being at the core of my current responsibilities. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
At the expense of sounding diplomatic, I must say that as a creative professional you are not really ever satisfied with the end result. Every campaign, especially the successful ones, teaches you so much more that you can’t wait to get your hands dirty again. I could cite video campaigns that caught eyeballs or plain text ads which made an impact, but at the end of the day you are your best critic. As for the “making of the campaign”, well they all are the same – a lot of shouting, crazy hours, brickbats from all sides and then, the sweet silence of success. 

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind? 
Well, the brand narrative that requires building is of course where we start from. From there on, it gets quite technical before it becomes creative. You need to identify the right channels and platforms, the demographics, when to communicate and how often and even the devices which your audience is expected to use. It is only then that we get into a huddle and let creative ideas flow. To be honest, a blank head is the best state of mind to have when you get into brainstorming. The first few ideas are often unimaginably hilarious, but they are always original. Once you have an original idea to play with, you can only lead to an original final idea. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Lee Clow, I think he is an absolute magician. Babita Baruah, she is a constant source of inspiration being the person who defied the so called “hitting the glass ceiling” myth. The way she has given back to the world of advertising is awe inspiring. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  • Listen and Read
  • Calenderise most of my day, leave some room to handle contingencies
  • Huddle with the team
  • Spend some time with my own self
  • Have lots of tea (Chai Point was on point when they said “India runs on Chai”)

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Most definitely. Somehow advertising is full of misfits and they will always find a way to keep the fire burning. So, you may need to adapt quicker than one says Jack Robinson, but yes, it is a viable career in the long term. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
Well, there is no magic potion for success, persistence remains the key. Plus, leaving the watch back home helps unless you are using it to check the deadlines! 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Express freely and don’t be afraid of mistakes! An original goof up is as good as any creative idea. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
It’s one day at a time for me, but I think I would be doing what I am doing today on a much larger scale. Also, I hope 5 years down the line I have begun the process of giving back to the world of advertising by creating newer opportunities for younger talent. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
There are, of course, quite a few agencies which appeal to every advertising professional. As of now I am unambiguously invested in the success story that WATConsult Delhi is turning out to be.

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