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I don’t mind calling data my boss: Emmanuel Upputuru, Cheil India

Cheil WW India is on a high after its wins at Goafest 2019. The agency bagged a total of 8 Gold, 5 Silver and 7 Bronze metals, and in the process became the Branded Content Creative Agency of the Year. Cheil India also became the Runners-up in Digital Agency of the Year and a close runner-up in the Creative Company of the Year. 

Of the 20 metals won, 9 metals were for adidas #TheRealKashmir campaign, 7 metals were for Samsung Bixby #VoiceForever campaign, 2 for adidas #ConnectedbyColors campaign and 2 for adidas FIFA World Cup campaign. Samsung is Cheil’s largest client, followed by adidas. 

Commemorating 16 years of Cheil in India, the wins embrace the agency’s philosophy of creativity inspired by technology. 

Speaking on the wins, Emmanuel Upputuru, Chief Creative Officer, Cheil WW India, said, “This is phenomenal! I am glad we chose to participate and have such great wins, including Creative Agency of the Year for Branded Content & Entertainment. The wins are a testimony to our focus on creating an ecosystem which fosters creativity inspired by technology in an integrated manner. We look forward to ending this year with more wins across national and international platforms.” 

With over two decades of experience across reputed communication networks Upputuru is a celebrated creative head and an industry thought leader. He has spoken at various platforms and judged International award festivals. His work has won him global recognition, including Lions and Pencils. 

Cheil India recently unveiled Cheil Design, an in-house avant-garde creative specialism with technology at its core. Offering a suite of innovative and creative services, Cheil Design aims to meet today’s communication dynamic for brands. In addition to this, the agency also recently launched e-Commerce Practice in response to the growing industry demand for an online marketplace service. The unit will offer a unique blend of Internet, technology, business expertise and established best practices to provide a blueprint for the company’s e-commerce success.  

Emmanuel Upputuru speaks to Adgully on the Goafest wins, focus areas for 2019, creative Vs data, integrating AI and more. 

What are the changes you have brought in at Cheil?
I don’t think I needed to do much, as everything was in place and we are a truly integrated agency – not just in paper, but under one roof. All aspects of digital, social listening, analytics, retail activation, and outdoor sit under one roof along with the creative people. What attracted me to Cheil is their focus encapsulated in a two-word formula: Creativity + Technology – something that I have always believed in. I think creativity is more powerful when applied to the whole business, beyond just marketing. Cheil is uniquely placed to deliver this promise. I didn’t have to do much, but just bring them together under one invoice in a more integrated manner. 

What is your vision for 2019?
Samsung is our largest client and is a part of most media properties. My main objective is to leverage all the potential that exists within Cheil, which is a huge amount of technology and creativity. 

How are you envisaging integrating data and creativity?
Creative people should be aware of data, but not be intimidated by it. I don’t mind being intimidated by data to an extent that it gives us inputs and insights, it is then our job to translate it into creativity. Initially there was a good idea guidelines, now the guidelines come from data. I don’t see any challenges there, and I don’t mind calling data my boss. 

How are you integrating AI into your operations?
One of the big entries that we won at Goafest 2019 was Samsung Bixby, which completely leverages the power of Voice and is also for a social cause. The film is inspired by the life of a Motor Neuron Disease (MND)/ALS patient, who agreed to let Samsung work on a pilot project to help preserve her voice forever for her daughter. That is what we are demonstrating with that technology right now. There will be more and more innovations. Today, it is Voice and going forward, it may be a ‘BLINK’. 

How do you view short format ads?
When skippable ads became the norm, I had done 4-5 seconder for Olx successfully. That is a real challenge – people don’t have patience and they keep scrolling up and down. I now feel that even a 6-second ad is long as the audience now has less than a goldfish’s retention. 

Do you see branded content taking over marketing communication?
Today, branded content has taken on a wider scope of definition. Everything is now moving towards branded content, where the consumer is not seeing the communication in the form of advertising. In that perspective, our campaign for Samsung Bixby is about a women suffering from a rare disease using her voice, where the product is part of the story. These kinds of stories are going to be told more and more and here, the 6-second duration is not a challenge. It can be a long format ad of 2 minutes duration, only that it shouldn’t look like a plain vanilla advertisement. 

Which one do you see taking precedence - Long format or Short format?
Every format will survive. You will have both 6-seconders and 2-minute long stories. There could also be 2-3 seconders which would take the viewers to the long format. Take OTT content, for example, ‘The Game of Thrones’ episodes are of 50 minutes or longer duration, and yet people are binge watching them. 

It is not about for how much time you can hold on to people’s attention, but how do you hold that attention by building intrigue.

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