DAN Interviews

We need to talk about our work a lot more: Ashish Bhasin

11 Apr, 2016

On the road to its stated ambition of becoming No. 2 in the Indian advertising industry by 2017, the Dentsu Aegis Network units quietly combined to bring in the highest tally of metals as a group at the Creative and Media Abbys at Goafest 2016.

With six Gold, 32 Silver and 45 Bronze for a total of 83 metals, Dentsu Aegis Network units in India showed that there was an equal momentum to the creative reputation as there was to its business growth.

Taproot Dentsu (40 metals), Dentsu Creative Impact (23 metals), Dentsu Webchutney (13 metals), Isobar (3 metals), and Dentsu Marcom and Vizeum (2 metals each) put in their collective best to surpass all other groups at this year’s Goafest. With wins across the entire gamut of categories – from film to print, out of home to activation, design to digital and direct, media to craft – Dentsu Aegis Network showed itself to be a creative force to be reckoned with, even as its business growth has been ample evidence of clients’ faith in the group’s capabilities.

Commenting on the performance, Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia, said, “Business growth can only be sustained on the back of fantastic creative work, and our performance at Goafest 2016 is a demonstration of that. Having said that, this is only the beginning. Business stability and growth form a solid foundation upon which creative work can flourish, and that is precisely what you will see from us – in market, and in peer forums like Goafest.”

He further said, “This is a very happy reflection not just of the range and depth of our talent, but also of clients’ trust in our abilities. And this is happening because the business and planning heads at each unit are getting behind the creative 100 per cent. The effort that each of our creative leaders has brought to bear is clearly visible here and I thank each of them for this outstanding performance. This is another big step forward in helping us achieve our mission of being the second largest agency group by end 2017 in India, overturning for the first time the existing ranking which has historically been in place for over 80 years in India.”

Adgully caught up with Ashish Bhasin to gauge his reactions to Dentsu Aegis Network’s strong show at Goafest 2016.

To what would you attribute Dentsu Aegis Network’s success at Goafest this year?
I think we had already focused on the business aspect of it; because of our PNL model we have achieved great success. About a year ago, we focused on the fact that even our upgraded/ creative product needs to improve across agencies. We empowered our creative directors and CEOs of the units to take whatever brave decisions they had to and fully backed them in whichever way we could. I think we also learnt how to present our work well, and that worked really well for our brands.

Which team according to you from the network has worked the best?
I think what has really worked well for us is our PNL model. We have been able to provide all the benefits of specialisation to our clients without the hassle of silos. Team Dentsu Aeigs Network works best when we work together.

We have seen some tremendous work by Taproot Dentsu, the agency also secured 40 metals at Goafest this year. So do you think Taproot’s addition and its aura has added to the group? Definitely. Taproot Dentsu is our ‘spark’ creative agency. The problem was that while Taproot Dentsu was winning a lot of awards, the rest of our agencies were nowhere in the reckoning. I think the big change this year has been that, while Taproot Dentsu has won even more awards, the rest of our group agencies like Dentsu Creative Impact, Dentsu Marcom, Dentsu Webchutney, and Isobar have also won a huge number of awards, including gold. So now they are sort of aspiring to be in the same league and have helped us be the No. 1 in the metals tally collectively as a group.

What are the learnings that your team is taking away from this year’s festival?
I think we need to present our work in an even better way; and we need to talk about our work a lot more.

With so much action happening in the field of mobile, don’t you think it deserves a separate award category?
Mobile is very important and currently it gets covered in several sub-categories. However, a day might come when it will have a separate award category, but we have to balance it given the fact that there are already quite a lot of categories. The awards shows are getting longer and longer despite having three nights, so I think that’s something that we have to keep in mind.

Do you think the judging process has become more stringent?
Definitely. I personally see it as a good thing, because higher the standard of judging, the more valuable the awards become. If you look at the media part of the awards, there were about 650 entries last year which went up to over 1,000 entries this year. However, the number of awards didn’t go up proportionately. Thus, the judging has become 50 per cent more stringent and that’s the trend we have seen throughout the awards. I see that as a good thing because winning a metal at Goafest Abbys should be something really aspiring and meaningful.

For you, what are the key takeaways from Goafest 2016?
Though there are several takeaways, the two prominent ones are: 1) While the quality of entries has improved, the standard of judging has also gone up. So, people who won metals this year should be really proud of their wins. It is going to be harder and harder to win metals in the future with the growing competition. 2) Digital has become an integral part of most communication and is gaining a lot more prominence than ever before.

What are the changes that you would like to see at Goafest going forward?
I think a lot of changes were done this year – the full judging process was made online, which has made things a lot more transparent and a lot more inclusive. A lot more of Goafest went digital this year than ever before. These are all steps in the right direction, but the spirit of continuous improvement will be building upon in the years to come.