The fourth edition of IMPACT’s ‘Top 30 Under 30’ list of the 30 most talented individuals under the age of 30 in Indian Media, Creative and Media agencies was unveiled last Friday. As many as seven out of the list are aged 25 or below.
A high-powered jury led by Raj Nayak, CEO of Hindi Mass Entertainment, Viacom18 as Jury Chair, met in Mumbai earlier in January to select IMPACT’s Top 30 Under 30 for the year 2016. The other members of the Jury were Arun Iyer, Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas, Manish Bhatt, Founder Director, Scarecrow Communications, Tanmay Mohanty, Group CEO, Zenith India, Prashanth Challapalli, Chief Integration Officer, South Asia, Leo Burnett, Hephzibah Pathak, Global Clients' Director, Ogilvy & Mather India, Shavon Barua, Managing Partner, PHD India, RajDeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India, Harsha Joshi, Executive VP- Group Trading, Dentsu Aegis Network, Lara Balsara Vajifdar, Executive Director, Madison World & Mandeep Malhotra, Founding Partner & CEO, The Social Street.
AGE - 27
Head-Media, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever
A strong sense of curiosity about people and sense of not accepting the status quo and constantly pushing for newer frontier makes Aakruti really stand out.
Manager-Data Sciences, Dentsu Aegis Network
AGE - 24
MD, Carat Group, India
Abhinay, in the very short time that he has been with the agency, has proven to be an absolutely invaluable resource. Apart from working on planning for Mondelez and delivering quality in very short timelines, he has also contributed hugely through his understanding of econometric modelling and its application on understanding the erratic behaviour of BARC’s data. He is an absolute find for the Industry and I am delighted to have him in the DAN team.
Brand Strategy Associate, Leo Burnett, Mumbai
Age - 27
Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia
Aditi is a keen learner, always willing to go through the rigour that’s required to come up with great work. She doesn’t take anything as is, but asks questions that lead to a fresh direction of thought. She was selected as one of the six people from the Indian Marcomm industry by the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations to represent India this year, and that says a lot about her potential and how much she can contribute to the industry. At Leo Burnett, she’s handled projects across cities and her work on projects for Amazon and Amazon Prime video launch campaign has been quite commendable.
Director Strategy, Havas Media India
Age - 29
Head Marketing Communications, Amway India
With the tools, research and learnings, the recommendations are relevant, sharp and focussed. The value addition to the brand has gone considerably up and Aman has been an important pivot in driving this change.
Head of Planning & Strategy Director, BBH Delhi
Age - 29
Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia
“Ankit is a true problem-solver. He doesn’t merely look at the advertising landscape, his canvas is business thinking. Ankit has an amazing attitude to work, always up for a challenge. Many a time, I have fielded Ankit to save a dying situation and he has come out winning. He is grounded and has a real view of the consumer. Ankit never shies away from rigour. A solid thinker with a fantastic attitude and tremendous resilience is how I describe Ankit.”
(Directly managed Ankit at Grey Worldwide)
Creative Group Head, iContract, Contract Advertising
Age - 26
Chief Integration Officer, South Asia, Leo Burnett
Ankita is the brightest young talent I have worked with in my 18+ years in this business. At 26, the way she handles herself, her team and her clients is a lesson to anyone who aspires to be successful in our business. In the digital agency business, one usually deals with the digital marketing head at the most on the client side. To Ankita’s credit, her relationships are always at the CMO level across all the clients she works with and to this day, I have never once heard a CMO say, she is too young for me to talk to. This is a tremendous testament to the maturity she displays and her command of the medium. For me, she is definitely the brightest creative talent to watch for in our industry.
(Managed Ankita at iContract)
Copy Supervisor, Taproot Dentsu
Age - 27
ECD, Taproot Dentsu
I dare anyone to take a look at the length and breadth of Apoorva’s body of work and attribute it to someone with under five years of experience. Equally strong on craft and insights, she is our go-to girl for any and every kind of brief. The diversity she is capable of and has displayed on many occasions is almost enviable. At a time when her peers are perhaps working towards sinking their teeth into big campaigns, Apoorva has numerous visible, successful releases under her belt. She is significantly below 30 age-wise, but significantly above 30 as achievements go. I’m sure if she stays the course, great things await her.
Director – Digital, Mindshare
Age - 27
Sr General Manager (Marketing), Idea Cellular
Arjun handles digital planning for Idea and has been instrumental in our 4G launch and the subsequent Internet4All campaigns. His knowledge and attention to detail have proved invaluable. He is enthusiastic and passionate and regularly comes up with innovative and interesting ideas. At the same time, he ensures efficiency while delivering the biggest bang for our buck.
COO, Social Kinnect
Age - 27
Senior Creative Director, IBD India Pvt Ltd.
Chandni Shah is one of the brightest business managers I have had the privilege to work with in more than 25 years in the business. An excellent analytical ability, a discerning eye for good creative work, a calm temperament and an innate ability to lead, while still being a team-player, stand out as exemplary qualities - so necessary in our service industry.
Manager-Invention, Mindshare Fulcrum
Age - 29
Global Brand Development Manager, Lifebuoy, Hindustan Unilever Limited
Divya has been an integral member for the launch and deployment of the ‘Chamki - Help a Child Reach 5’ campaign in rural India. Right from planning the campaign to ensuring its proper deployment, Divya pursued it with a lot of personal commitment and passion. She has very good interpersonal skills. She is also very dedicated and disciplined in her approach to work. With her skillsets, Divya will go a long way in her career, making some amazing friendships along the way.
Senior Account Executive, Scarecrow Communications
Co-Founder and Director, Scarecrow Communications Ltd
Gargi has been at Scarecrow for nearly three years, and she is one of our star performers. From being a quiet team player, mostly following instructions of her seniors, she has grown immensely and matured way beyond her age. Her understanding of client briefs, briefing creative teams, getting work out of them - that is not only on brief but is also effective - is outstanding. She can also hold her own strategic discussions with seniors in the agency and with seniors on the client side. Not only is she an asset for Scarecrow, even her clients are completely dependent on her.
GURJOT SHAH SINGH
Associate Vice President, Digital Media, Dentsu WebChutney
Age - 28
Chief Executive Officer, Dentsu WebChutney
Gurjot has this remarkable consistency and ability to energize and excite people at WebChutney, who carry the baggage of a legacy creative agency, to think and actively contribute about the media business. Starting almost from scratch, he has built a Rs 30 crore media practice in six months, which speaks volumes about his potential in the future.
Account Controller, Madison Media-Infinity
Group Product Head, Saffola Foods & Innovation, Marico
I have worked with Hufriya for more than a year and find her exemplary in terms of commitment to brand initiatives and desire to leave her own stamp on the work she is doing. Hufriya has been at the forefront of leading Saffola’s Fit Foodie initiative and anchored all other digital initiatives for the brand. What I find most exciting about her work is that she always pushes the boundary and brings in cutting edge thoughts and execution in an area that is so wide and dynamic. She is also a diligent student and there is a constant desire to do better and improve. I hope Saffola can benefit from Hufriya’s expertise even more in the years ahead.
Associate Director, Publicis Media
Head-Consumer Marketing, Printing & Personal Systems, HP India
We worked with Neha at a time where we were beginning to build our digital presence, especially in search. Neha was our lead for driving this and the entire team here admired her for her analytical abilities, and pro-activeness in managing our objectives. She managed different stakeholders with varied levels of understanding of search in the Marketing team admirably and was instrumental in making us appreciate her and her team’s job. Her ability to listen, comprehend and respond with options and trying out new approaches is commendable. Quick response time and an always cheerful personality make her a great associate to work with.
Account Director, Madison Communications
Age - 28
WPP Team P&G leader, APAC (Global Ecommerce/Data & Global Beauty)
Nikhita has been one of the star performers in the P&G team at MediaCom. She has proven her capability across India as well as South Africa and has also contributed to P&G’s pitches around global markets. A reliable talent, she is always eager to learn, perform and is accountable. One of the toughest clients has appreciated Nikhita for her dedication and performance. She is definitely an asset to any company and a star about to shine on a global map very soon!
Copywriter, Leo Burnett
Age - 28
Creative Director, LeoBurnett
Nitin is one of those young creatives who will give established directors a run for their money when it comes to detailing, passion and innovative story-telling.
Creative Director-Copy, Dentsu Webchutney
Age - 25
CEO, Dentsu Webchutney
Having started off as a copywriter way back in 2012, PG has earned every bit of his recognition and success within the Webchutney system. His role in helping shape and grow the Bangalore branch has been vital. To the industry, PG is one of the top creative faces of a modern Dentsu Webchutney, a growing creative leader we’re proud to show off as a product of this agency. Some of the brightest resources have been mentored by PG too.
Director Brand Engagement, DDB Mudra Group
Age - 28
Executive Creative Director, Mullen Lowe Group
The thing about Pritika is that she is always on top of things. She is the go-to person on every project she handles. She takes entire ownership. She never lets stress show up. She cribs along, laughs along and makes it all so human. We had made one mammoth film for a fashion client. It was a logistical nightmare but she coordinated all the stuff. On top of that she never loses sight of the creative product. That’s an extremely great quality for someone in account management. That’s her biggest strength, apart from being fierce and focussed.
Media Supervisor, PHD India
Age - 29
Assistant Brand Manager, Hindustan Unilever Ltd
I have worked with Priya for the last one year and she comes across as a sincere and diligent counterpart. Her expertise in Mobile is exceptional and she is a pocketful when it comes to Marketing & Branding ideas... not to forget her ever-smiling face that adds a lot of enthusiasm and positivity in the team. She is a team player and a definite asset to the team.
Account Manager, Madison Media-Infinity
Age - 25
COO, Madison Media Infinity
Priyanka’s energy is infectious, her Will to not let go and achieve what is best for her brand is something any client will desire. She is always on her toes and thinking out of the box. Her idea of Fifth Wall for Asian Paints is path-breaking and I know her next big idea is just round the corner.
Copy Supervisor, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai
Age - 28
CEO - Ogilvy & Mather, India
It is not often that one encounters a young creative mind that also understands the many intricacies that drive marketing decisions. Priyanka’s, is one such mind. Which is why, she has rapidly evolved from being a bright writer to a marketing partner for clients and account leads alike. It is her ability to effectively grasp the many aspects of communication and seamlessly interpret them into a compelling thought that sets her apart as someone to look out for in future.
Media Supervisor, PHD Media
Age - 28
General Manager, Mobile Solutions, PHD Media
Ronnie is a smart, talented person and a professional who is passionate about his work. He has been the lead on mobile projects that have won and are currently winning several awards for his agency. He is a fountainhead of ideas, and has great people management skills with the client and across levels in the agency. He maintains a high level of accountability in his work and has shown leadership potential at a young age.
Group Head - Digital Planning, PHD Media, India
Age - 28
Digital Media Manager, Hindustan Unilever
Rushina has led from the front on digital media. She comes from a space of genuine expertise. Her capability to understand the context of the media landscape, and interpret it for the right actions on the brand is unparalleled. The three qualities that set her apart from her peers are: Her judgement on all matters digital and the interplay with overall media is praise-worthy. Influencing the right set of stake-holders, decisions with the right interventions and inputs also hols her in high stead amongst her peers. When Rushina talks, brand and category teams listen. She is also driven and is able to channelize all energy to the right set of actions by motivating her team to perform at their best.
General Manager, Programmatic Media, PHD Worldwide
Age - 28
Managing Director, PHD India
Smita has, in the short span of her tenure with us, proved herself an invaluable asset to the team. Her knowledge of the programmatic ecosystem makes her the port of call for her clients and for internal stake-holders. Smita displays maturity and understanding of business that rivals colleagues much senior to her, allowing her to carve a place in the agency core team very quickly. Among her peers, she stands apart for her focus, passion and delivery-based work style.
Creative Group Head-Copy, Contract Advertising
Age - 27
NCD, Contract India
Sumit is one of those rare guys who is not only great at work, but also makes working fun. An unending supply of jokes and witticisms to make us laugh coupled with an unending supply of awards to make us smile. From Abbys in India to Spikes and Cannes globally, Sumit has filled the Contract office shelves with more than 50 metals in the last two years.
Account Director, Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai
Age - 29
Chief Communications Officer, Tata Sky
Swati is a delight for everyone associated with the brand, and the brand itself. She is driven, passionate and someone who owns the brand as her own. Never to back down, especially when the pressure is high or the task difficult, she takes charge of any situation that this dynamic category brings up and ensures that a good job is done. She brings a sense of fun to the process of advertising which reflects in her work.
Senior Planner, OgilvyOne Worldwide
Age - 25
Group Creative Director, OgilvyOne Worldwide
The hallmark of a good planner is to be able to seek out an insight that has the ability to change perspectives. Swati has this very unique ability to consistently unearth potential gems for brands in national and international markets. And it is on the back of these insights that we have been able to create work that repeatedly stands out in a cluttered marketplace. Swati’s inputs have become so integral to the creative process, she could well be considered an intrinsic part of the creative team.
Associate Director, Performics.Resultrix
Age - 25
Group CEO, Zenith & Performics. Resultrix India
I have seen Tithi since she joined us as a management trainee and successfully moulded herself into a force to reckon with. Her strongest asset is the fact that she refuses to fail. I see a very bright future ahead of her.
Senior Copywriter, Scarecrow Communications
Age - 24
Creative Director, Scarecrow Communications
For someone who is in the business for just three to four years, Vaishakh’s turnaround time is remarkable. Turning daily jobs into award-winning ideas has now become his forte. He can handle campaigns single-handedly and client meetings as well... something that usually takes years of hard work.
Creative Director, BBH India
Age - 27
CCO, BBH India
Yohan is extremely talented. I’m almost loathe to include him in a ‘great for his age’ list because I feel he’s moved on from just being good for his age. He’s a mature creative leader, very good with his craft and constantly surprising with his ideas. He is one of the youngest “real creative” directors I’ve met and I predict we’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the years to come.
HOW OPEN ARE CMOS TO WORKING WITH THE YOUNG?
How do marketers relate to a young person on an agency team? Are they comfortable as long as work is delivered, or do they prefer to deal with a senior person?
By Allan Dsouza
(with inputs from Neeta Nair)
Even as all the major agencies contest in the big league to bag the most loaded clients in the Rs 60,000+ crore advertising industry, marketers have shown an increasing interest in young guns in the agency folds who can pitch to them those innovative ideas that fuel business. The abundance of youngsters across creative and media agencies is testament to the fact that agencies have started to take note of the contribution made by millennials to the industry.
During the jury meet to select IMPACT’s Top 30 Under 30, bigwigs in the business such as Raj Nayak of Colors and Arun Iyer of Lowe Lintas had high words of praise for the zealous efforts of youngsters.
On the evening of the felicitation, we asked some of the winners who had made it to the Top 30 Under 30 list, about how open CMOs are to the idea of having youngsters on the agency team taking up the reins of strategy to be implemented for the brand. We got a mixed bag of responses, with a leaning towards how brands have stopped throwing a fit, and have become more receptive to fresh ideas from the youngest in the room.
FRESH IDEAS COMPENSATE FOR LACK OF EXPERIENCE
While admitting their lack of experience in pitching to a client, many of the winners said that CMOs actually look forward to ideas from greenhorns since they can expect more freshness in creativity. Rushina Vakharia, Group Head, Digital Planning, PHD Media India, says, “Young blood brings in fresh thinking that can substitute complacency in the planning process and make the agency look more earnest in their approach.”
Reinforcing the notion that brands have become increasingly receptive to ideas from youngsters, Divya Ramakrishnan, Manager- Invention, Mindshare Fulcrum, says, “Our agency manages media for the brand portfolio of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) and every brand under HUL has a different brief. It doesn’t matter from whom the idea comes, as long as it clicks with them, they will take it and also compliment that youngster for thinking out of the box.”
The trend has shifted to welcoming youngsters to the big table, and Gargi Agarwal, Senior Account Executive, Scarecrow Communications, says, “During my early days, when I just started out, word was that clients preferred seniors from an agency to do all the talking, but that has come to change with time. It all depends on the confidence and conviction of the presenter, and if the client is convinced of an idea, they welcome it and also like to have that youngster at the next meeting.”
THE NEW AGE CMO PREFERS YOUNG IDEAS
The start-up explosion in the country has paved the way for youngsters to aspire for larger goals, and big names such as Disney and PepsiCo hiring marketing heads who are under 40 years is proof that brands are comfortable in having more faith in the youth. Observing that the average age of the young CMO too has dropped, Aman Mishra, Director Strategy, Havas Media India, says, “With the average age of CMOs going down, it isn’t a weird situation anymore while pitching to a client since it is easier to discuss, debate and also find common ground. Clients don’t want to lose out on a good opportunity, because they weren’t listening to a young guy’s idea.”
For contemporary CMOs, seniority in their agencies isn’t a criterion anymore since business is perceived to be driven by knowledge, and marrying knowledge to an idea is what CMOs deem the right fit. Swati Khanduri, Account Director, Ogilvy & Mather, says, “To get the client’s attention, individuals no longer need to be a superior or chief. As long as they can buttress their idea with evident knowledge about the brand’s positioning, its competition, values and all the required nitty gritty, they ought to get the attention and respect they deserve from their client.”
Ankit Singh, Planning Director, BBH India believes that clients are driven by results, and if they are convinced an idea will get them the result they are eyeing, then age is only a number to be entered on formal documents. “In my time with BBH, I’ve interacted with dozens of clients, and no CMO has ever asked me my age. It could also be the fact that I look much older than I am, but, honestly as long as they can see a lucrative business opportunity in a proposal, they are going to lap it up, and also leverage it when the time is right.”
DIGITAL IS AT THE INDUSTRY’S EPICENTRE
The primary reason for younglings in media and creative agencies to attract the attention of brand executives is the reality that most brands want to sell to them. The biggest advertisers are targeting millennials who are interested in their offerings. Consequently, it becomes important for brands to comprehend the psyche of the youth, by listening to them. Talking about how CMOs buy an idea from a youngster to sell to youngsters, Pritika Gupta, Director Brand Engagement, DDB Mudra Group, says, “CMOs are more than comfortable picking up ideas from youngsters because at the end of the day, they are selling their services to them. A planner in her 20’s or early 30’s identifies better with the mindset of a young buyer and can design and modify the strategy accordingly.”
A striking surge in utility apps in the past few years, and the ever-increasing budget for digital advertising has made it mandatory for even traditional businesses to go online. Agencies impressing their clients with the power and scope of bots and VR, have led young guns to believe that they have a much longer and enduring innings to play on the digital pitch. Saying that clients prefer a more edgy pitch than a prosaic one, Arjun Tejwani, Director - Digital, Mindshare, adds, “The CMOs and CEOs that I’ve interacted with have actually gone seeking ideas from youngsters. They are enamoured by the creative thinking, and room for innovation that a digital savvy boy or girl can bring to them. Digital is the way ahead and we are at the cusp of driving that digital bandwagon.”
After all the advertising is done at the end of the day, it all boils down to how much revenue flows into the company’s coffers, courtesy their advertising. Emphasizing on how the digital arena proves as an important measurement metric to gauge the impact of a campaign, Neha Gupta, Associate Director, Publicis Media, says, “When a client puts out a digital video ad, or a Twitter post for a campaign and gets the number of views, likes and re-tweets intended, it’s proof that the campaign was successful in terms of reach. Youth is the biggest consumer of digital content, and when it is young people like us crafting that content, it means the industry is going full circle.”