Leaders of Tomorrow: Stop thinking like a PR executive or a Digital specialist: Abhishank Babbar


Abhishank Babbar, Associate Partner – Digital at Genesis Burson-Marsteller is a passionate individual who believes in self-motivation and self-improvement. Working with an array of brands has given Babbar an understanding of what is the need of the industry.

A strong believer of ‘stop being a PR executive or a Digital specialist and be the Communications Consultant,’ Babbar shares his views. 

What led to your entry in the dynamic world of digital marketing?

From the time I joined Genesis Burson-Marsteller as a part of the Associate Learning Programme (ALP), I have been exposed to working on integrated campaigns. The love for digital marketing bloomed when I joined the digital team as a part of the quarterly training modules of ALP and was blown away by the creative freedom and exposure those three months gave me. The rest, as they say, is history. If it wasn’t for Genesis Burson-Marsteller’s ALP, I would have had a very different career path.

Looking back, how would you describe the journey? What is the one instance that made it all worthwhile?

I am a very passionate individual and good work motivates me like nothing else. It’s hard to pick one instance because every day has helped me improve myself from who I was the previous day. For me, it’s about the utter joy of planning, strategizing and executing a campaign that I believe in!

One stereotype about working in the digital media sector that is thrown at you every time

“We need to create a content piece that goes viral instantly, otherwise what’s the point of hiring a digital marketing firm”

One memorable campaign that you worked on. Any behind the scenes dope?

One of the campaigns that is really close to my heart is Intel’s ‘Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur’ (EKUKA) campaign that I was a part of a few years back where Intel worked with national and regional Governments to create a blueprint to drive technology enabled transformation at the grassroots in 10 states in India, taking forward the Digital India vision. Our aim was to create PC awareness and improve access to opportunities in non-urban India. Insights showed that non-urban India operates in tightly-knit communities and the motivations for them were centered on improved opportunities that resulted in better employment and economic prosperity. Apart from a social advocacy programme and setting up of Unnati Kendras for training in these locations, our team culled out hero stories of adoption of digital/technology and how it positively impacted them and their neighborhood that in turn resulted in improved standard of living for them. The excitement knew no bounds at the time as the client and agency teams worked together in creating something meaningful and impactful. It gave me an opportunity to work with some of the best client leaders.

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One campaign you wished you had been a part of and why?

“Coke is a Fanta” might sound like a harmless idiom to us, until one realizes this expression pops up everywhere in the Brazilian culture: in memes, on social media as a common insult for the gay community. Brand Coca-Cola took that homophobic expression, turning it into an empowering and cool campaign by filling cans of Coke with orange Fanta. As the TVC rightly stated, “A single can turned a homophobic expression into a symbol of Pride.” This is one of the many amazing campaigns that I would have loved to be a part of. You should check out this campaign, if you haven’t already.

Also read: #LeadersOfTomorrow: An ideal campaign is one that has a simple message: Abhinay Bhasin, DAN

Motivation mantra

If you’re passionate about something and you work hard, nothing and no one can stop you from succeeding.

One day in your work life…

Home -> Metro -> Office -> Work -> Coffee -> Meeting -> Lunch -> Work -> Coffee -> More meetings -> Metro -> Home.

3 things you do daily that have helped you excel professionally

  1. Constantly working towards diversifying my thought process
  2. Take ownership of the situation and keep improving myself
  3. Keep myself self-motivated

One upcoming trend you want to latch on

Would like to reiterate what Nikhil Dey, our President, said earlier this year about how there is a blurring of lines between the various stakeholders that an agency addresses. Among them, he said, are the employees, who are increasingly becoming the voices for the brands they work for, both in the online and offline space. He called it the Firefly Effect where communications help the brand to glow from within.

Digital marketing gurus you look up to..

I have been listening to podcasts by Neil Patel and Amy Porterfield lately. Very enriching.

One trait that helped you win 30Under30; any tips for upcoming participants?

My tip for the upcoming participants is know your strength, believe in yourself and try to do something more, something different from what your counterparts are doing. Keep pushing boundaries!

One moment or instance from your journey that aptly describes #AgencyLife

Understood the difference between EOD (end of day) and COB (close of business). When you say, “I will share the document by today EOD”, it translates to “Expect the document at 11:59 pm”.

Where do you see yourself 5 years down the line?   

I see myself further sharpening my skills and develop new techniques that help me make constructive contributions to the team, helping my organization achieve more success.

Marketing and Advertising Icons/Leaders you follow and look up to for inspiration

“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.” I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. This quote says a lot about the clear vision that David Ogilvy had when it came to his work. From understanding the business and customers you are servicing to remaining focused, there is a lot to learn from Ogilvy that can help shape you as a better professional, irrespective of your job profile.

Your idea of an ideal campaign

I follow the mantra – Let’s stop thinking like a PR executive or a Digital specialist and be the Communications Consultant the client expects you to be. Ideas and strategy shouldn’t be contained by ‘what the PR team will do’, ‘what the digital team will provide’ and then let’s put it all together and share with the client. An ideal campaign is when YOU, as a communications consultant, work towards contributing to a client’s business objective – that is true integration, something we have been following at Genesis Burson-Marsteller.

Rapid Fire:

  • Your favourite campaign

One of my favorite campaigns is Transport Accident Commission’s “Meet Graham”. A perfect mix of science, creativity and bang-on-messaging.

  • Most irritating word in a brief

Viral. “Let’s create a viral campaign”

  • Most overused digital marketing buzzword

Buzz. “Need to create buzz for our product”

  • One brand you love on social media

I will give you three. Netflix. Wendy’s. GE.

  • Rank in order of fondness: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn

Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat


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