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Ad land’s Young Guns: Priyanka Shah, Isobar

Featured in this edition of Ad land’s Young Guns is Priyanka Shah, Director - Mobile (West/ South), Isobar, joined the agency in January this year. Prior to that, she was with Ogilvy & Mather, where she was Mobility Head (Mumbai). She had worked with the agency from May 2014 to January 2016 and was heading the mobile business across brands for Mumbai region. She worked with PHD between December 2012 and April 2014, where she was handling mobile strategy and planning for HUL (all brands).

An engineer by qualification, Shah has over seven years of professional experience in Telecom, MVAS Marketing and Mobile Marketing, with a focus in business/ functional analysis and product management.

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

How did you get into the role you are serving?
Being an engineer, one of the toppers at Symbiosis (SITM), always gave me a sense of pride while in college and also a relief that I would be grabbed by one of the IT giants at a fairly good package. But destiny had other plans … here I was in the middle of a huge recession in 2008-09, struggling to get placed and dejected that most of the organisations that grabbed toppers never turned up. After a few restless months, I got placed at Mauj. Having visited the organisation during interview, the culture there had a fresh and energetic vibe to it and I decided to go ahead with what I had got, rather than cribbing about what I had not got.

I got into Mauj, which was the mobile arm of Contract Advertising, as a trainee and got to work with brands like Axe, Johnson & Johnson, Mahindra, and Gitanjali at the time when mobile marketing was extremely nascent and knocking doors and getting nods from brands was extremely difficult. Mobile suddenly seemed as a beast to brands as they could never decode how to tame it to give best results. I never thought I would enjoy decoding it for brands.

This is how seven years back my journey began into the enchanting world of mobile marketing.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
Being an engineer always made me extremely driven towards technology and its innumerable possibilities. I bring to the table a unique combination of marrying brands with technology to get the most impactful solution out of it. I love to call myself a ‘Mobile Architect’ rather than a Media Manager, because I see brand challenges with a more holistic lens and believe in solving it by providing impactful mobile solutions rather than just media plans.

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
Seven years of mobile marketing experience has given me a lot of my favourite campaigns, which I would love to talk about. Mobile has finally arrived, however, I have been encouraging different brands to taste the success of mobile for quite a few years now, thus giving me many favourites like the Good Life Club Campaign for 3 Roses done at PHD, Fortune Missed Call Recipe Campaign for Adani Willmar at Ogilvy, 800 Lives Saved Hepatitis B Campaign for Roche at Ogilvy and of course, the Say It With Silk Campaign executed for Cadbury Silk at Isobar. Each of these campaigns answered a different challenge and thus, had a unique approach to cater to the audience.

Mondelez being a fun brand and Silk being my favourite temptation, I enjoyed working on the Say it with Silk Campaign this Valentine’s Day. Since our TG was young couples, we decided to create an impact in their lives via the numerous apps that they use on a daily basis. Hence, we introduced a series of innovations right from contextual stickers on Truly Madly and Nimbuzz to animated gifting listicles on Storypedia to special couple booking integration on Bookmyshow and enabled customised video dedications via mobile banners across APP and WAP which are visited by these audiences.

This Valentine’s Week, we Said it with Silk in our own special way and thus, got a whooping response from the audience in terms of reach and engagement.

While working on the creatives, how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
Creative storytelling is the mantra for any campaign that needs to impact lives. My constant endeavour while planning for a campaign is how to use creatives in the format that the respective platforms are best known for and leave a taste behind in the minds of the consumers. Mobile is an extremely engaging medium, with innumerable feature sets that can be creatively used to amuse the audience in the form of rich media creatives or augmented reality or interactive videos.

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Piyush Pandey is the ad guru who I look up to and have been extremely fortunate to have got a chance to work with him at Ogilvy. His charismatic personality and his love for brands and unique approach make you forget everything till you crack an ace campaign for the client. Despite being a huge icon, I have often been inspired by his humility and his love for his work.

I have learnt to not just do my work but to live it. He always said that in order to strike a chord with the TG, it is extremely important to live that consumer journey with the brand to create an impact. He emphasised on observing people and the surroundings more as it is a live canvas and the best ideas emerge out of experiences.

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
Well, the five most productive things that I follow in the everyday routine are, firstly, reading about the latest trends and happenings in the digital marketing and technology space as this space is fairly dynamic and one has to keep a tab on the developments to stay relevant. The others include planning mobile for my brands, writing on mobile marketing and the new trends in digital, collaborating with the teams and clients.

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Advertising as a career is going to remain extremely viable in the near future as brands would continue to create stories and experiences to connect with the audience like always. However, the context and creative renditions would undergo a major change, with digital being extremely dynamic in nature and contextual and customised communication being the near future of advertising.

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
I think advertising is one field which gives you the opportunity to work with a myriad brands and makes work so refreshing and fun that it is extremely important to enjoy what you do.

You need to live it to sell it and hence, it is important to believe in your approach before proposing it to a brand. It is extremely important to keep observing and constantly learning and unlearning to stay relevant and ahead of the curve.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
The only advice that I would like to give to youngsters is that you need to love and believe in what you do to roll out great work. Also, it is extremely important to be flexible and have a thirst for continuously learning new things to have a holistic approach towards any brief. You don’t need to be jack of all trades, but you need to know what you are good at and master that eventually.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Five years from now I see myself leading my very own mobile solutions agency, extensively working for some of the top digital spenders and reinventing the way mobile is perceived in the industry.

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I would definitely love to work with Google on the product side once in my career, as I believe that would get me very close to the world that brings about most of the innovations and inventions and it would be a powerful learning experience to learn at a place which is the heart of digital.

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