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Isobar to ride the growth on content, tech, NowLab and Voice in 2019

Visa’s new brand campaign, ‘Tap to pay with Visa. Just like that.’, has been gaining traction. Created by Isobar India, the digital agency from the house of Dentsu Aegis Network, the campaign focuses on how the universal behaviour of tapping can become a common payment method, and showcases the simplicity of using the Visa contactless card, specifically for low-ticket transactions.

Elaborating on the campaign, Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD, Isobar South Asia, said, “You need to understand how your campaign is going to work out across mediums. The Visa campaign was shot mostly in the horizontal format, which woks great on platforms like YouTube. But when you are consuming content on, say Instagram, it is in the vertical format. This shows how the format in which you present the creative manifests itself into a more technologically interactive video. There are so many different ways in which you can take advantage of the technology that is there.” With this, the creative team has created a campaign which has legs on different mediums and hence, can take advantage of a lot of different formats.

“However, the challenge that arises is that how do we measure the efficacy of a 2-seconder on Facebook vis-à-vis a 7-seconder on Google vis-à-vis a 30-seconder on TV. We are working in the ecosystem to get a more even measurement going across,” he added.

The opportunity for the agency is how to create a communication strategy for its client which straddles across all mediums. “It would go on print and outdoor, because now we are taking as far as the integrated communication for the brand is concerned,” Jasani said.

Anish Varghese, National Creative Director, Isobar India, elaborated that the brief for the campaign was pretty simple. “We needed to bring about a behavioural change. For instance, when you buy furniture, you tap on the wood to check whether it sounds hollow or solid. Like you tap on a coconut to check whether it is a good one or rotten. We needed a narrative that we could connect with the millennials, because we feel that they are going to use the card at large. That’s why we came up with this communication approach. It is all about the communication platform and how we worked on various mediums with the communication platform. We were writing a script by looking at data points. You can see there will be some science behind the script because data supports a lot of things. Even if it is a 5-second film or a 2-second film, we will write a script for it, which comes from our learnings. Normally, what a team does is that they will make a bigger film and then chop it.”

Jasani explained further that it is the reverse from the traditional way of thinking. He said, “You film a 30-seconder and then crunch it, but because we understand that the medium we are working on will need smaller edits of it, you will see the film excel and there are potential edits in the film itself. We have worked the other way around, saying how many edits will there be in the 30-seconder rather than here’s a 30-seconder and let’s edit. Our thought process is how will we get the maximum amount of reach across different platforms and the maximum effectiveness on those platforms, and because of that thinking we are able to understand just how to do that.”

Jasani further emphasised that with the ‘Tap to pay with Visa’ campaign, Visa was not redefining its TG. He added, “Post demonetisation, India itself is transitioning to a cashless economy. In that environment, this kind of payment becomes relevant. It was important for Visa to tell people that for purchases below Rs 2,000 you don’t need to input your PIN number. All you need to do is tap your Visa card to a POS machine. 85 per cent of all transactions are below Rs 2,000, which means that the ease of transaction was something that Visa wanted to talk about in this campaign. So, rather than redefining the TG, it is addressing the consumer habits that have changed.”

Speaking about how the creative thinking process has it changed in Isobar, Jasani said, “We were a digital agency and now we say that we’re an agency with a digital nature. The difference is that for a very long time we were an agency that was like a regular digital agency going around. But we have built our cred on great work that is focused mostly on execution – that’s the evolution that has happened.”

Varghese added here, “We always build a foundation for a narrative and then we see which medium suits it best. That’s how we worked for Visa; once the narrative was built, Visa asked for a TVC, so we made a TVC.”

Jasani doesn’t believe that with growing move to have integrated agencies will impact boutique agencies, as he stressed that great thinking will never go away. “If you’ve got great concepts and a great team, then it doesn’t matter whether its digital or offline. Boutique agencies will always be there; firstly, because of the structure of large agencies – and I’m being absolutely honest – the thinking is the strongest part of it. If boutique agencies want to be successful in the future, they have to think about how they add the data and technology layer on to their strategy,” he added.

“It is because we understand technology and there is a lot of data available to us; and if these two were not married, then the idea would not scale to the extent that it has. So, agencies may still have a great idea or concept, but they will not be able to scale it. That’s what helps us as a larger agency, because we have access to the data and technology, it helps us work on a larger canvas,” Jasani further said.

According to him, while boutique agencies will continue to flourish, they would need to marry data and technology to really do something great.

Speaking about the growth targets for 2019, Jasani said, “For us now, it is about growing up and being an inspiration for some of the new kids on the block to look up to.”

He added, “We set targets for 2020. We want to grow about 5X times of what we are. We want to win 5 global awards. Indian awards are important, but our focus is more on making an impact on the global audience. As I had said earlier, I am not very happy with India’s representation at Cannes Lions, especially in the digital category. There was zero representation in digital even from APAC.”

He stressed on the need for all digital agencies to push the envelope more and more from just thinking on digital to winning global awards. “We want to be the torchbearers of digital in India and take it to the world,” he affirmed.

For Isobar, content will be a major area of focus, mostly on content integration. Technology will be another big focus for the agency. A big push for 2019-20 will be how NowLab is going to take front and center stage. AR, VR, and AI are going to be focus areas with a lot of investment from the agency. “Voice will be a big part of Isobar in technology, but from a revenue perspective, I don’t see it growing just yet till 2020,” Jasani concluded.

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