There is merit in brand & agency co-owning the idea: Mukund Olety

Mukund Olety

In conversation with Social Samosa, Mukund Olety talks about the progression of Metaverse in India, the future of technology, and creativity in advertising.

Mukund Olety, Chief Creative Officer at VMLY&R, talks about how Metaverse is a rich platform to bring a brand experience to life and how it can morph into many forms. According to a report, the global Metaverse market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 47.6% from $100.27 billion in 2022 to $1,527.55 billion by 2029.

A&M has evolved from classic print advertisements and TV commercials to modern marketing methods such as QR codes, co-branding, and content marketing. The creative team’s helmsman talks about the challenges the creative heads faced this year, how co-owning the idea is plausible, and their expectations from 2023.

Edited Excerpts:

VMLY&R has seen some structural changes this year. How do you think the agency model is changing and how is the group preparing itself for future challenges? 

VMLY&R, VMLY&R Commerce, and The Glitch were three big entities that have amazing in-depth expertise by themselves. Bringing these three entities together seamlessly marries into our narrative of creating connected experiences for consumers – How does a brand live in the lives of consumers at every single touchpoint? We are about brand experience and consumer experience, and at the core of it, is commerce. So that’s our VMLY&R loop. 

Today, consumer journeys are not linear and you need to be focused and seamless in how a brand communicates with the consumer. That is one big reason why VMLY&R  is an integration that is built for today. VMLY&R has been traditionally very strong in technology and innovation, The Glitch is very strong in social communication. VMLY&R Commerce has been very strong in activation, shopper, and rural with foot on the ground. Building off all these strengths is the new VMLY&R. 

It’s a very exciting journey and a great experience. In the last 10 years, everything has been so fragmented for our clients. Now, they can come to an agency that can give them holistic marketing solutions across platforms. It’s like all the arms and legs are talking to each other. 

On an industry level, what are some of the challenges that the advertising landscape and creative heads are facing this year?

The role of creativity and the boundaries of advertising are changing. It’s not just about communications but solutions. The solutions can come in any form. It can come in the form of an ad, a product, an experience, or something that doesn’t exist. Today, we are playing the role of technologists, inventors, platform specialists, and so much more. 

Today, the roles of creative directors and creative leaders are wide. We live in an era where they still need to discover what is the limit to that boundary of advertising. The boundaries are constantly expanding. 

It’s a phenomenal time to be in advertising where all of us are experimenting with new mediums, new kinds of solutions, new ways of commerce that are opening up, new ways of people buying things, the new way of people experiencing things, new ways of people getting deliveries, and at each of these touchpoints there’s a role for creativity.

Previously, advertising solutions were limited to just selling a product. It still is. But it does not stop there.

For example, what is the brand experience when I get that delivery? How can CX add to the product experience post-purchase? It has expanded beyond me telling you why you have to buy this product. There are so many aspects and I feel we haven’t even scratched the surface.

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Another debate that has been going on for decades — who owns the idea – the client or the agency. Who owns the idea? Do we need a change in approach here?

Today, agencies are being compensated based on the output rather than the outcome. You’re being paid for your time, and whatever you deliver in that time belongs to the client. But if you’re getting compensated for the outcome, then you’re in a better position to own an idea because you’re not just selling time, you’re selling the outcome. 

The idea itself is a very vague entity. The larger question is how we treat each other; as a vendor-client relationship, or is it a true partnership? A lot depends on that relationship. My personal feeling is that we will be in a better position to own the conversation about who owns the idea the moment we start behaving like true partners where your business means my business and get compensated based on the outcome of the communication.

There is merit in CO-owning the idea. 

Another talking point this year has been the Metaverse. Can you elaborate on the future of Metaverse in India and the impact it will have on the A&M industry?

Metaverse is an amazingly rich platform to bring a brand experience to life. But what will it eventually morph into, I don’t know. It could morph into all of these things, your next social media platform, your next eCommerce platform, your next platform where you enjoy concerts, it could be any and all of this. 

The year is almost coming to an end, what would be some of your focus areas in the coming year?

My constant push to the team is – how is this an idea that can be done today and not 20 or 10 years ago and what is that little bit of an edge? In the new year, our constant strive would be to create that edge in every single piece of work that we do. 

VMLY&R has had a fantastic 2022 and is on the Global Map. We did not have anybody looking towards us with many expectations last year but now I think a lot of eyes are on us. So, the pressure has definitely increased. For me, it’s like how do we continue to do better and excel; if last year we reached an X benchmark, how do we go X+10 this time? I’m really looking forward to the new year, and with a lot more expectations from everybody else.

On a different note, what according to you is the winning formula that participants should be mindful of?

It’s great to know, who are we competing with, what are your standards of creativity compared to the rest of the world? Are we on the same level as the best of the best? SAMMIE is a great platform to see where we are as an industry together. As a country where do we stand, and are the technologies and ideas we talk about the best in the world?

India had a phenomenal year at Cannes. So I’m guessing we are doing the best work in the world and that will reflect in SAMMIE as well.

What are your expectations from the nominees this year at SAMMIE?

All this while, we were looking at work done in the US or in Brazil, and we were using those as references. It’s high time that people around the world look at Indian work and start benchmarking it and referencing our work when they make their presentations. 

A lot of great work is happening and I’d like to see all of that in one place. How the conversations in the jury room will evolve and what will emerge on top is a different thing but just seeing all that great work in one place is truly giving me goosebumps.