Brand news

Sidharth Rao: "Agency networks are competing against in-house agencies, specialists!"

16 Apr 2019

With 40 metals in its kitty, Dentsu Webchutney, the digital agency from Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), has been named the ‘Digital, PR and Direct Specialist of the Year’ at the Goafest Abbys 2019 edition. 

On the agency’s remarkable performance, Sidharth Rao, CEO & Co-founder, Dentsu Webchutney, said, “It’s incredible to know that what is usually known as a digital-first agency, has bagged the highest haul of metals across categories at the Abbys. We are all super proud at Dentsu Webchutney. In 20 years of being in the business, times have changed for the entire digital ecosystem, and we are humbled to be torchbearers on its behalf!” 

“There’s pride in how we have learned to nurture the ideas to the biggest stages with disruptive clients who demand excellence. We use the term “kill your babies” a lot at Webchutney, and the breadth of campaigns that won, shows we have a lot more coming. This is the strongest team we’ve ever got together, and they’re ready to reach new heights in 2019,” he added. 

In conversation with Adgully, Sidharth Rao explains how Dentsu Webchutney managed to dominate Goafest Abbys, as well as the road ahead for the agency as it completes 20 years. 

PR Specialist Agency, Direct Specialist Agency, Digital Specialist Agency - were you expecting to put up such a strong show?
We have been accruing confidence in our submissions to Goafest. Two years ago, I believe, we won 13 metals, and we topped that last year with 23, along with Digital & Mobile Specialist of the Year. In terms of benchmarking, we look to our past. It’s not just about catching up with last time, it’s about doing it even better. While we were hopeful of a strong show, also winning PR & Direct Agency of the Year was entirely unexpected, and so was the metal tally across three days. We are thrilled. 

What are the factors that contributed to Dentsu Webchutney’s success at Goafest Abbys this year?
Teams across our offices produced great work all year round. 2018 was our strongest yet in terms of business, people, and now, the work itself. There are several factors at play, but chief among them, I believe, are: (a) terrific consumer and technology insights shared across our offices, (b) fantastic clients who are eager to prove digital marketing is a source of transformation and future growth, and (c) their willingness to align all parts of marketing to speak about their brands with one voice. 

This is all great for us, because we’ve never overcommitted on expertise of a specific technology: just its relevance for the brand’s users. Social media is a starting point (and a big one at that), but by no means do we stop there. We are the first creative (and even media or brand strategy) agency on record for several clients. 

Do you still believe that the future of Dentsu Webchutney isn’t strictly digital, especially after your Digital wins here?
Absolutely. It reinforces the belief. Even digital work a few years ago would be sporadic in nature. It is sometimes becoming the first point of conversation from a marketing standpoint. I think what’s worked best for us is focusing on consumers when it comes to behaviour, instead of just tooting our horns about what we can do. Our claim to fame might have been digital, but we hope to expand what it means to influence brand experiences at scale in a rapidly digital-first society. 

What are your key focus areas as the agency completes 20 years? What does the next decade look like?
You should ask my team. They hardly give me anything to do these days. Jokes aside, my focus areas are on building the strongest team of creative problem solvers. Webchutney’s long history has had several ups and downs, but this is the best position we’ve ever been in on all key fronts. I’ve been looking keenly at codifying a set of ideas that have kept us alive and the ones that will keep us alive for the coming decades. As for the next 10 years: we can’t wait to see how it changes us! 

Do you think integrated really is the way ahead for agency networks in today's market ecosystem?
Agency networks aren’t competing against each other. They’re competing against in-house agencies, specialists/ boutiques, and Big Consulting. Building a suite of competencies that cover all parts of a brand experience is already important, and networks know this. In the end, we’re also in the market with a set of solutions, and our network allows us to tap other skills, such as data sciences and public relations to meet client and consumer expectations.

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