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Sumanto Chattopadhyay & VS Srikanth on how 82.5 plans to Indianise communication

With an objective to bring “Ingenious Indian Ideas”, WPP’s Ogilvy Group has launched 82.5 Communications. Announcing the launch in Mumbai yesterday (January 31, 2019), Piyush Pandey, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide, Executive Chairman India, Ogilvy, said, “82.5 will meet a key need in the creative services market for an agency that is tailored to help realise the aspirations of emerging Indian companies, entrepreneurs and brands as well as MNCs who want to ‘Indianise’ their brands and forge a connect with Indian audiences.” 

The accounts of Soho Square, another creative agency belonging to the Ogilvy group in India, will now be managed under 82.5 Communications. VS Srikanth, who was the Director and CEO of Bates CHI & Partners India, will be the CEO of the new entity, responsible for steering 82.5 Communications in the intended direction, and for implementing plans to deepen and widen 82.5’s engagement with its existing clients. 

Samrat Bedi, President – West; Chandana Agarwal, President – North; Sharmista Dev, Head – Kolkata; Naveen Raman, Head – Bengaluru; Siddhartha Roy, EVP Planning; Anuraag Khandelwal, ECD; Mayur Verma, ECD; Mukund Sharma, ECD; and Ranadeep Dasgupta, Group Creative Director, complete the core team of 82.5 Communications. 

For those who don’t know, 82.5 is the longitude that passes through Mirzapur and is the central meridian for India, corresponding to a single time zone for the country. 

Speaking to Adgully on the need to launch 82.5, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications, said, “We wanted to reinvent ourselves by coming up with ingenious Indian ideas. The complete theme is based on this longitudinal affiliation.” 

The press kit handed out at the launch event was made out of recycled papers to promote the idea of nature conservation. Other products like chalk, pencils, notepads, etc. are also made out of recycled materials. The idea is to convey the message of making the most of limited resources. As Chattopadhyay said, “This ideology is equally applied to our core group – be it in the ad films that we create or providing clients with an open source platform model. To make the most of our resources, we have our WPP partners; besides, we will also be seeking partnerships with non-WPP partners. As brand custodians, we are going to be the brand lens and voice and provide all kinds of solutions in a lighter, agile form and not as a big agency.” 

Speaking to Adgully, Sumanto Chattopadhyay and VS Srikanth elaborate on the thought behind launching 82.5, the strategy behind formulating partnership, the agency’ operations and more. 

What is the thought behind launching 82.5?
Sumanto Chattopadhyay: I think the thought process really was that there are a lot of big and small agencies, and we didn’t want to be just another agency. We want to we have a distinct taste and identity and position for ourselves and that is what spurred us to do this. As we move forward, everybody needs to think of something that is the need of the moment and the need going forward. So, this was the right way for us to prosper in the future. 

How will the partnerships work as a P&L? What would be the split?
VS Srikanth: We are looking for partnerships outside of WPP as well and not just within the group as long as the client’s demands are fulfilled. We have just embarked on our partner enrolment programme, so we are only half way there. It should be complete in the next month or so. We have a list of partners who will bring the skillsets to the table, and that’s the whole point of it. 

How are you strategising for your entire partnership programme?
VS Srikanth: We look at the kind of the plans that we want to go after; many of them are strong Indian brands who are seeking high quality solutions and who are looking for deep engagement with the agency. They want the agency to spend time with them and not only that but also simplify things for them. It’s a very complex world in terms of communication. There is a lot to do like Social PR, content and so on. 

Clients usually have complaints about simplicity in terms of solutions that the agency provides. We have kept ourselves aware about these kinds of problems and so we look forward to having partners who can fit in these requirements. 

Will you work with only Indian brands or will there be global clients as well?
VS Srikanth: There are two sets of plans – one concerns Indian brands, both large and small. Sometimes some of them are very strong in their geographies, while sometimes it could be about start-ups and dotcoms. 

The second set of plans is for the multinational clients who have India specific brands, but they don’t really know how to go about the country’s functioning and nuances. They need Indian support to connect with the Indian consumers. They need somebody to simplify it for them, without complicated cost structures and without legacy systems. 

Ogilvy is a much larger agency, so there are certain smaller entrepreneurs who would think twice before going to Ogilvy, saying it is very expensive and might come with a certain baggage. 

Sumanto Chattopadhyay: We don’t want to say that we are going to be cheap. Let me explain with an example, say an architect is looking at an economical way of constructing. He is not going to accept a lesser fee, but he will find you a solution which works for the kind of budget that you have. I think it’s about flexibility. 

Will 82.5 encourage smaller start-ups or boutique agencies?
Sumanto Chattopadhyay: I don’t think our goal in life is to encourage others. It’s a very interesting collaborative way to work with people who have expertise, we would imagine that others would get excited about our platform and want to collaborate and partner with us. That needs to happen for us to succeed. I think that we can always partner with likeminded agencies who are doing something specialised which our clients may want. 

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