Ad Land’s Young Guns: Mallika Ahluwalia, Brand Manager, Hunch Ventures

From heading marketing for aviation firms such as BLADE to fine jewellery brands such as AMARIS and hospitality brands such as Mystras, Mallika Ahluwalia has been handling marketing strategy for lifestyle and luxury brands. As a brand custodian, she provides not just vendor management services but ensure the right brand communication across all platforms. She also provides a content marketing strategy for the social agency, ensures the right communication and talking points for the PR agency, and the right targeting for digital ads.

In conversation with Adgully, Mallika Ahluwalia, Brand Manager, Hunch Ventures speaks about marketing strategies and communication, Journey with current venture, Long term career in digital marketing, and more.


What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?

A strong sense of brand ownership and understanding of brand personality.

I believe a strong marketing strategy and communication is heavily dependent on a deep understanding of what your brand stands for. A brand is basically as distinct as a person and has a distinctive style and tone of language, just like we as humans do. Cracking that means a successful strategy and work as a brand manager.

How did you join your current organisation?

I finished my Masters in Marketing, PR and Corporate Communications from University of Leeds. After which, I returned to India and interned with BLADE’s parent company, Hunch Ventures. Right from the first day of internship, I was grateful enough to be a part of discussions with company founders and CEOs, which really shaped my thinking and strategy. BLADE was a new portfolio company, which needed resources for social media, which is where I initially started off. Within 4 months of interning, my role transitioned into a full time social media manager and just like any other start-up, my scope of work slowly included all aspects of branding and marketing such as PR, Digital, content and e-mail. To be able to manage and spearhead all aspects of marketing at that stage and age was a huge learning curve and also the reason why I am here. After almost 3 years in the industry now, I also take care of Hunch Ventures marketing and lead their portfolio company, Guerilla Warfair, a social media and marketing firm formed to cater to Hunch’s portfolio companies and other clients.

Who are the icons in this field whom you look up to and how have they influenced you and your work?

In a field as creative as marketing, there’s inspiration to be taken from so many people, campaigns, teams, platforms. We all know the work that goes behind creating campaigns, the teams that work together. For me, inspiration comes from what we see every day. Interesting social media campaigns and content from that one small restaurant without a big marketing team, that one marketing podcast that talks of Digital PR campaigns that worked in the UK, an SEO expert who talks of hacks for better ranking.

The days of one single way of marketing are far behind. There are so many emerging disciplines and different leaders in their fields. As professionals, there is no dearth of learning from others.

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

  • I plan my travel for the day well in advance so that meetings can be scheduled accordingly. As someone living in a city, we’re well aware of the time spent in traffic congestion. So, I mostly take my work calls during my commute. That’s the only way time spent in traffic isn’t an entire waste.
  • Have A hit list! Basically a to-do list, I write down even the smallest of tasks that need to be done. The satisfaction of getting things off the list is unparalleled. Plus gives you a good overview of how your day is looking.
  • Timers on your phone: I have timers set on all my social media apps. Instagram is set for a daily limit of 1 hour. If I exceed that during the day itself, it is an indication of a slow work day, which helps me understand where I could have gone wrong and what to do better.
  • Work out: I started working out to lose my Covid weight, but over time I have realised that its benefits go much beyond. I doubt many things give the serotonin boost quite like a good workout does. Additionally, I feel it is important to keep your body moving. A sedentary lifestyle in the past has for sure affected my work with body aches, low immunity and lack of energy. I feel much more agile and better with some physical exercise in the day.
  • The 2-minute rule: I read somewhere that if a task does not take longer than 2 minutes to complete, do it then and there. It was an article for procrastinators. And somehow that helped me so much. I have been following it ever since and have seen a substantial difference.

Do you think a career in this field is a viable one in the long term?

The world has gone digital, social media platforms have taken over, media has moved online, consumption of content is all digitised and this is the future. Every business and publication is moving online and finding newer ways to grab people’s attention. It is all about views, going viral, getting engagement, and I firmly believe this is the industry to be in. I don’t see the world going back to only offline methods, it will be a good mix of online + offline, thus making it a viable field in the long term.

What does it take to succeed in a career?

Love your work so that it doesn’t feel like work. As clichéd as it sounds, you’ve got to work hard and work smart. You need to be able to love your work to be able to fully enjoy it and give your best output. Else, it is half hearted. Even when it comes to hiring people in our team, we look for people who are passionate and are ready to put in the hours. For example, my late night Instagram scroll often ends up in me saving a bunch of content for the brands I work with. I don’t realise that my profession unknowingly percolates down to my ‘me-time’, and yet somehow because of this interest and passion in the field of work, the brands we work with benefit.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?

It is the same as for people who want to succeed in the industry. Get into it only if you love it, take inspiration from everything and anything, your mind never really stops working and ideating because marketing professionals take inspiration from daily life. And keep learning, stay abreast of trends, take short courses and be prepared to put in the hours. It is not a typical 9-5 job and can’t be treated like one. But it is also one of the most exciting, interesting and fun industries to be in!

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I have some plans, so let me treat it as an open manifestation for all to read. I’d love for my agency to do great work and bring onboard amazing clients and churn out some great content. The results we achieved with BLADE is something I aspire to achieve for other brands as well.

Is there any organisation that you would like to work with in the future?

I’d rather have my own organisation and add more value to others through it!


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