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Ad land’s Young Guns: Saransh Agarwal, The Glitch

Saransh Agarwal joined The Glitch at the start of the year 2015 and since then it was no looking back for him. He worked his way up to become Group Head, Account Planning & Management, and has taken on this key role with absolute maturity, focus and diligence. 

Having done his BA (honours) in Business, Accountancy and Economics from The University of Worcester, Agarwal worked with Image Consulting Business Institute before he came to The Glitch. He has been the brain behind some of the most effective campaigns and has worked with several of Glitch’s key accounts such as Netflix, Mumbai City FC, Tresemme, WWE, Lever Ayush, Pears, Closeup, and ICICI, to name a few. 

Agarwal’s journey at the Glitch has been nothing short of an inspiring one and he continues to dazzle with his penchant for creativity, planning and management. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Saransh Agarwal in his own words...

How did you get into the role you are serving?
It’s a funny story! I was leading digital marketing for my previous employer and wanted to work with a new digital agency. I actually first met with The Glitch as a client. When I met these guys, I realised straight away I wanted to be on the other side of the table.  

In terms of the specific role I serve within the agency, business is in my blood. Entrepreneurship is great of course, but I’ve always been a little bit more interested in sustaining a business. My role at The Glitch allows me to work on incredibly unique business problems for so many cool brands while at the same time partaking in a sustainable development of the agency itself. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I believe I have a strategic mind and always work with a larger vision. It’s so easy to get lost in the little details of advertising! A good creative is only good if it solves the problem.  

I have the ability to think independently and question the norms if they aren’t delivering for the brand. 

Having said that, I don’t think there’s anything more important than hard work and dedication. As clichéd as it sounds, if you work hard enough, you’ll get what you want.  

I guess my hunger to win is my biggest strength. I’ll go the extra mile every time. I want to try everything and I want to win at everything, whether that is a successful brand launch or collaborating with the team on smaller content pieces.  

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
There have been a lot of brands and several campaigns in my short time in advertising. But rather than talk about one single campaign, I’d like to talk about my experience with Netflix India as a whole. Early in 2016, I successfully led the pitch for Netflix India for The Glitch. This brand was a breath of fresh air when we started and we’ve never looked back.  

It has challenged my perceptions on so many levels. The way we look at endorsements, working with influencers rather than celebrities, making content rather than ads and really cementing a relationship with our audience.  

We had to break the ice with the Indian consumer and not come across as another MNC entering Indian soils. We did that by getting a deep understanding of the audience and their needs and playing to their tastes by localising our communication while keeping the Netflix essence alive. We worked with uniquely Indian insights to understand what would make Indians love Netflix the way the brand is loved in America or the UK.  

Contextualising an international brand of that scale to such a hyperlocal level has been a very interesting challenge and one that I believe me and my team have risen to fairly well! Handling their first big campaign in India and showing India what they were missing with ‘Life Without Netflix’ or even telling them how easy it was to get ‘hooked’. The way we’ve been able to understand the brand and the competitive environment of entertainment in India is something I’m incredibly proud of.  

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
Creative strategy can come from so many places. Sometimes it strikes you the second the brief comes in and sometimes you need weeks of brainstorming to even arrive at something that inspires the final creative.  

But I’ve always relied on a process that streamlines my creative thinking. The first thing I do is look at the overarching goals of the campaign. I funnel that down into a single reaction that I want to elicit from the audience.  

From there on I look for the most obvious way to get that reaction. So often in advertising, especially digital, people get lost in formats and technicalities. It’s so important to understand clutter-breaking does not mean complicated.  

Brands are being forced to do something different every time nowadays. Uniqueness of an ad has somehow become some kind of checkbox we have to tick, but the obvious answer is quite often what will get you the result. If someone watches your ad and goes ‘that’s so clever’, I don’t think that’s enough of a win. 

A good creative for me does one thing above all else – It gets the audience to react the way you want. Everything else just facilitates the creative thought to come alive. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
I could share a list of names we’ve all heard of in advertising, but I have not ever really felt the urge to look at icons in the industry and follow their work, etc. I come across great ads every day and it’s the work that inspires me.  

Quite often, I don’t even have to look outside The Glitch. For example, Rohit Raj, one of the founders here, is an absolute genius! I’m left amazed at the end of every brainstorm.  

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

  1. Plan my day. I need to know what my day looks like. 
  2. Check an e-mail when it comes in. Our jobs depend on it. Every single miss in a campaign can be tracked back to someone not checking their e-mail!
  3. I make a list of everything. Not just so I don’t forget. It helps me prioritise. 
  4. Sit down. I know that sounds weird, but seriously there’s so much chaos! Just sitting down and taking time to do something is really helpful.
  5. I’ve only recently realised this, but adequate sleep can change your life!

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
I guess it depends on how you define viable. My role, my workplace, my brands – everything changes and evolves every day. It’s definitely never going to get boring. For me that’s good enough. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising? 
Assume nothing! Be ready to learn, be okay with being wrong and never ever, ever sacrifice your point of view. It’s a cluttered industry – too many people behind too many brands, all fighting for a limited audience. You cannot ever settle.  

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Don’t join unless it excites you. This is not a ‘dekhlete hai’ career. It’s very easy to drown. It’s not the best money and not the best hours. But it can be very satisfying if you are hungry and ambitious.  

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Five years is a long time. If you asked me five years back, I would have said ‘valuing companies in mergers and acquisitions for a big bank’. I want to be as successful as possible in five years, but one step at a time please.

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