We are & will always be a work-in-progress agency: Kapil Arora, 82.5 Communications

It was a year ago that Ogilvy Group launched 82.5 Communications with an objective to bring “Ingenious Indian Ideas”. Since its inception, 82.5 Communications has had an India-first approach across its campaigns, which includes the famous Bisleri Camel campaign titled ‘Har Paani ki bottle Bisleri nahi’ and the Lava Phones’ ‘Follow Back’ campaign. 

This positioning has not only attracted Indian clients, who form 90 per cent of their client mix, but has also attracted international players going for a more personal and grassroot level communication in India. 

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As elaborated by Piyush Pandey, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide, Executive Chairman India, Ogilvy, “The position of a truly Indian agency was vacant. There is so much talk around India that there wouldn’t be a better time to drive the conversation around it. Ogilvy can’t work with every brand and there were several smaller clients who wouldn’t approach us assuming Ogilvy was too big an agency for them. 82.5 Communications was created especially to reach out to these clients one-on-one and grow together with them while driving conversations through Indian ideas and innovations.” 

The agency has already built in-house language thinking expertise beyond Hindi and English, starting with Bengali, Marathi and Tamil. This repertoire will continue to increase through a mix of in-house talent and a circle of friends from the local film and theatre circuits. 

The agency also follows an open platform model. As explained by Kapil Arora, Co-Chairman & CEO, 82.5 Communications, “As a small outfit, it made absolute sense to keep brand custodianship, strategy and content expertise in-house, while working with partners to offer allied services in media, social, PR, retail and activation. In implementing that model, we had a few learnings and have since pivoted to build that circle of partners within WPP alone. This helps us retain better quality control and ownership for our clients and a move like the WPP campus really aids is in that regard.” 

On the agency completing a year in the industry and winning several accolades for their work, Arora said, “We are and will always be a work-in-progress agency, because that’s what drives new ideas and freshness.” Further talking about the future plans, he added, “With change happening so rapidly in the industry itself, I have a prudent two-year plan with a five-year vision. I want us to be a successful brand of an agency, which helps drive growth for the client brands. It needs be standing alone as an expert of India and who can add value to businesses through interesting solutions. We need to immediately be the single window for a brand’s communication and solution requirement, with a strong built infrastructure. While the window is one, the doors can be many, following the open platform model.” 

Talking about the business wins, Arora said, “I’ve been here 6 months and I can tell you that the energy has been electric. Our mandates with our largest clients ITC, Himalaya, ACC, Bisleri have significantly strengthened. We’ve won 9 of our last 11 pitches. And bagged mandates from Nestle Milo, a few dairy projects with them as well, IDBI bank, Haldiram’s North, Hero Lectro, a few brands from the RSPL Group, Campus Shoes, Pearson Education and Jeeru – a jeera-based carbonated beverage right here in Mumbai.” 

Often while starting a new agency, one of the main challenges is having the right team and likeminded people on board to follow through on what the agency stands for and where it wants to go. Having the right set of people is extremely important. Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications, reminisced, “We’ve had a slight advantage in terms of our leadership team, which has come from Ogilvy. Ogilvy was very clear about the fact that this agency has to work and fly on its own. Post that, getting people on board was a struggle as you need to get the right business and be able to offer the right salaries to get a good time to work with you. We had a few clients already, but as we’ve grown in the last year, people want to work with us because of our Indian ethos and the work that we do. Our Delhi Creative Head, Preeta Mathur, joined us because she loved this ethos and it appealed to her. It was also a struggle deciding which people were the right ones to get on board. Coming from an Ogilvy background, we had never found this to be a struggle before. But as time is going by, I am happy to see us getting there.” 

“All of that is just the beginning. With a solid foundation in place, we’re fabulously well geared to help navigate and partner our clients through trying times. And we’re bullish about the future,” Arora affirmed.


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