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The Disrupters: COVID-19 crisis has put a lot of emphasis on digital marketing


Surviving and thriving amid the presence of large agency networks are the smaller, independent agencies, often referred to as ‘boutique agencies’. Quite often created by former employees of larger networks venturing out on their own, and sometimes by people from different professional backgrounds, these independent agencies are being increasingly recognised for their brilliant campaigns and benchmark-setting innovative thinking.

Adgully’s feature offering – The Disrupters – puts the spotlight on such small independent agencies that have been setting a blazing trail in the advertising industry with their work, their new way of operating and ideation, which have been creating disruption in the way the advertising business is done in India.

Set up with a vision of building equal prowess across Digital, Creative and Media, Big Trunk Communications is a Mumbai-based integrated digital marketing agency that loves the challenge of using digital marketing to communicate complex ideas in a simple, memorable way. Every business identifies information as an indispensable asset to their day-to-day activities. This asset needs to be fast, smart, and reliable. Big Trunk has been helping clients manage this vast volume of information and transform it into effective digital businesses. Some key clients include, Reliance, TimesPro, &TV, Zee Café, IndiaBulls, Phoenix Marketcity, and Discovery Kids, to name a few.

Bharat Subramaniam, Managing Director, Big Trunk Communications, is at the helm of the agency. With a very strong understanding of clients, distribution levers and new business initiatives, Subramaniam leads the agenda for Distribution and Business development. A management graduate from Mumbai University with experience in print and digital media distribution and strategy, Subramaniam has earlier worked with leading brands of the Times Group handling Zonal distribution for various online and offline brands. As part of his last assignment, he headed the strategic initiatives for TBSL.

Here’s the story of Big Trunk Communications’ march towards being a Disrupter in digital marketing in Bharat Subramaniam’s own words.

How it all began

In 2013, the onset of the digital revolution was evident, and marketing was on the verge of undergoing a complete transformation. The troika of mobility, internet and social media were about to give customer more power than ever before.

Traditional marketing and advertising would have required a complete makeover and companies that could leverage this digital wave better than competition would have emerged as leaders in their respective segments.

The need of the hour was a full-service digital marketing agency that could ride this digital wave, enable contextual positioning, targeted messaging and curated experiences and empower companies to accelerate business and build strong brand recall.

Two seasoned marketing professionals with an unsatiated desire to embrace digital and change marketing at their respective brands, decided to take the plunge and do it themselves. They founded a new-age full-service digital marketing company and named it “Big Trunk”.

We are a full-service Digital Marketing Agency with the following core services:

  1. Digital Strategy
  2. Digital Media Planning & Buying
  3. Social Media Marketing
  4. SEM
  5. SEO
  6. ORM
  7. Mobile Marketing
  8. Digital Creative Development
  9. Website Design & Development
  10. App Development

Key clients

  • Phoenix Marketcity Bangalore
  • Discovery Kids
  • Sbarro India
  • Zee Group
  • Sony Music
  • The Zoom Studio
  • Utkarsh Small Finance Bank
  • LendingKart

Creating disruptions

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” If we must describe how digital marketing scores over traditional marketing in one line – this quote would be apt. Digital has disrupted traditional marketing by making it SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reliable and Timely.

Let’s take an example to elicit this further. The hoardings or billboards, which till recently could not validate the number of views or eyeballs attracted, have given way to Digital OOH. The result is much better control over advertised content, its duration and its effectiveness. Hence, marketers have better control on ROI with digital.

At Big Trunk, we go by a strong commitment to ensure that everything that we undertake for our customer is translated to metrics which are measurable and fall under the “SMART” ambit.

Upcoming projects

We specialise in the retail malls space and are constantly coming up with unique ways to keep the crowd engaged, enhance footfalls and sales in these malls. We are working on some interesting ideas, which currently are under wraps, but you will get to see soon. CSR related to sports is a theme that we are keen on. We are in talks with multiple popular sporting brands to create curated and innovative digital engagement campaigns.

There is an unprecedented emphasis on personal hygiene due to the COVID-19 crisis and our clients in this space have a huge topical opportunity at hand. We are empowering them with ideas to leverage digital channels and emphasise their value proposition with relevant messaging. This will enable them to position themselves as responsible companies, drive brand recall, and in the process, also drive business growth. We envision a positive transformation in personal hygiene habits of the entire population post COVID-19 and that presents a huge digital marketing opportunity, wherein exciting campaigns on awareness, health benefits and overall harmony can be created.

“Phygital” is also a key area for us and we are doing some interesting work in the digital OOH space.

With 5G being ushered in and its impact on the 3Vs – voice search, video, and vernacular content – a lot of ideas and themes are being worked on to enable our client brands to leverage the potent combination of 5G and 3Vs.

The road ahead for Digital marketing

When it was in its infancy, digital marketing formed only a minute portion of the total advertising budgets of companies/ brands. I think this decade will completely turn the tables. Digital marketing will have an almost equal weightage as traditional marketing initiatives in the marketing budget. For smaller brands, the digital marketing spends would overtake traditional marketing spends.

In the years to come, Digital marketing would become more powerful because of the data on user preferences, behaviour patterns, demographics, etc., that it can generate. The Digital and Data combination is well-poised to disrupt the way we market anything from products and services to concepts and social themes.

Digital marketing will create new jobs, new marketing technology products and platforms will be introduced. Companies will rely excessively on digital marketing channels and campaigns to promote their products and services and augment business growth.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has put a lot of emphasis on digital marketing. With “social distancing” and “lockdown” mandates restricting physical movements and interactions, the world is now experiencing the true power of technology and digital marketing. It is showing us that we can stay connected albeit the distance.

Digital marketing will become more vital in the overall marketing plans in the post Coronavirus phase. The mandate for companies and brands would be to make up for lost time and business. This would require faster and wider outreach, better segmentation and targeting, creation of contextual experiences per customer, and acceleration in business growth. We are excited about this transformed digital marketing landscape that will soon emerge. We are looking forward to leverage the opportunities therein to enable our clients to flourish.

Was it worth all the trouble?

We would like to see it a bit differently. Firstly, it panned out the way we had envisioned. India did take giant strides in empowering people with smartphones, Internet, and mobile data. Social media and messaging applications also disrupted the way people communicated and digital was embraced in a far more encouraging manner than what we had initially thought.

If you get the premise and timing right, the controllable factors are passion, zeal to improve, innovate and deliver excellence every day with no loss of enthusiasm. We have fortunately tried our best and ticked these boxes with considerable success.

In this journey, while we have faced our fair share of challenges, we would like to view them as learning opportunities and like it’s often said, “It did not kill us, hence it only made us stronger.”

The 5-year plan

We are a group of 60 unique creative minds who share two things in common – our office address and our passion to excel in digital marketing and communications.

We see ourselves being the “first port of call” for our clientele for all the services that we offer. We also envision to expand our footprint across marketing technology and marketing analytics services. Marketing products, platforms and IP-backed digital offerings will accentuate our next phase of growth. We have chartered a roadmap to accomplish this by 2025.

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