Anyone who is creative needs to take bold calls: Santosh Padhi

Taproot Dentsu saw tremendous success at the Goafest Abbys 2016, taking home 40 metals that included two Gold, 19 Silver and 19 Bronze. And all this was achieved with a team of just 40 members.

In conversation with Adgully, Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, Taproot India, shares the success mantra of his agency.

Adgully (AG): Taproot Dentsu has been the star of Dentsu Aegis Network at Goafest this year. What are the kind of elements you bring to the table that motivates the team to perform better all the time?
Santosh Padhi (SP): I think it is amazing that we have got 40 metals at Goafest Abbys this year; to be precise, this the first time that we have reached such a high metal count. In 2004, we secured 34 metals where Ogilvy led the tally with 52 metals. Interestingly, at that time when we scored 34 metals, the number of people that we had at the agency were only 33. And this time too, the number of metals that we have received equals the number of people in the agency – 40. And we have one office.

I think it is phenomenal. You can’t be comparing apples with oranges. Hence, it will be unfair to compare us with other agencies which have 2,000 people, eight different offices, and six different verticals. We are very happy with what we have achieved and celebrating as if we are the No. 1 agency, and why shouldn’t we?

I think a lot has gone into the system in the last 6-7 years. Right from day one, our mantra has been to be known for our creative product than for anything else, and if you track our past record, we have been No. 2 or No. 3 at any international awards platform wherever we have participated – be it Cannes, AdFest, Spikes or D&AD. We have been among the top two at Goafest since the last seven years. We believe in consistency, be it for the brands or for the agency. I think consistency is what matters and makes you become solid, tough and stronger as a agency and as a person. And this is relevant not only to this industry, but to every industry and to every individual. So we strongly feel that consistency is the key to our success.

We have a phenomenal team, which is very hard working and which has been pushing every opportunity that we are getting. We did close to 400 print ads last year for The Times of India Group comprising 11 editions of TOI, seven editions of Mumbai Mirror and three editions of Maharashtra Times. So in a way we were competing with ourselves in the Media/ Publisher category because all of them were entitled to one category, which is media publication. Having said that, I think not only The Times of India, but Airtel, Dulux or any project that we take, we have been fighting for an opportunity to push that extra centimetre. As they say, “boond boond se sagar banta hai”, so when you are small, every drop counts. Today, we are a sea and hats off to our guys who have been contributing to getting that opportunity. We are extremely happy with the way things have been going for the agency in the last 6-7 years and this gives us a solid confidence that we will become stronger and better in the coming years.

AG: What is the culture that you are trying to inculcate or instil in the agency?
SP: We don’t have an HR department, we don’t have personal assistants, we don’t have a films department, or accounts department. We don’t have a receptionist. This has been the culture from day one – right from the peon to the creative director can step into Aggie’s (Agnello Dias) cabin and ask anything. If they step out of that room happy and satisfied, it adds to our wonderful work. We have seen the energy levels go up after spending even a couple of minutes with our team. This is our culture. There is a large number of kids in this industry, they need to be given the right direction and their energy needs to be utilised for the right purpose. As senior people of this industry, we need to cumulatively come together and channelise the energy that the youth has today. It’s not rocket science, I think many people in our country across different verticals have been doing that; it’s high time that we also do that as an industry.

AG: How do you balance being bold and creative at one level and managing data with your client?
SP: It’s the same sides of different dice I would say. Anyone who is creative needs to take bold calls, needs to be brave, needs to be courageous, needs to have the right information, data, and the insights to go and speak to the right audience. The backend has to be supported with the right data or insight.

AG: What would you consider as the key takeaways for you from Goafest this year?
SP: I think compared to last year, there is a far greater amount of energy this year. The number of entries has gone up, the number of delegates has gone up as well, so I would say that there have been a lot of positive things and little negative things. The negative things would be reserved for the committee guys as they have been taking feedback every time and have been implementing most of the suggestions. I think the agencies who keep themselves away from this festival should also come together; this is our industry, there’s a healthy competition we all fight for, and when we win, it’s a different kick. As this festival is for youngsters, we need to applaud them and push them as they are the future of our industry. 


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