This episode of Samosa Talks discusses how despite difficulties in remote shooting, virtual pitches and managing cash flows, agencies are adapting to brave the impact of COVID-19 in their own unique ways.
In the wake of COVID-19 crisis onset and the subsequent lockdown, there is an urgent need to discuss the way forward. For the latest edition of Samosa Talks, we got together a few agency heads for a discussion on The New Business Playbook for Agencies in COVID19/Post COVID19 Environment. The conversation revolved around the impact of COVID-19 on work from home, virtual pitches, remote shooting, demand and supply of content, brand relations, mental health and the idea of a new normal for agencies.
The panel included Ayesha Chenoy, CEO-Founder RepIndia, Gopa Menon, Chief Operating Officer, Isobar India, Mohit Joshi, Managing Director, Havas Media India, Siddharth Devnani, CoFounder SoCheers, Shradha Agarwal, COO, Grapes Digital and Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder/Content Chief, The Glitch. The discussion was moderated by Hitesh Rajwani, CEO, Social Samosa Network.
Agency heads talked about the different ways operations have been hit and how they are doing their best to minimise the impact. While those with pharma and healthcare clients are better off, ones dealing with non-essential products and brands have been hit pretty bad. However, the show must go and is in fact, going on, they say.
Sharing a recent experience of their first shoot post the implementation of the lockdown, The Glitch’s Duggirala said that it took them twice the time to get things in order and complete the shoot. He added how over time, shooting remotely has become easier and the team and the talents they deal with have adapted to the scenario the best they can.
Talking about the kind of content that is likely to be palatable for consumers at the moment, Joshi from Havas Media India explained the importance of meaningful communication in tackling the doubts and trust issues bubbling in the minds of the consumers.
On the financial side of the business, there are cash flows to manage and salaries to pay. RepIndia’s Chenoy shared bits from the salary-related conversations between their senior leadership, stating how they decided to take the hit in order to ensure juniors weren’t affected.
SoCheers’ Devnani also spoke about salaries, maintaining that it is of utmost importance to keep salaries at the top of the priority list when it comes to managing cash flows through a crisis. To ensure things would remain good in this department for the next few months to come was one of the first things the management did, he said.
Putting forth an interesting perspective on the need for marketing and the demand and supply on the business side, Isobar India’s Menon said that currently, everything is constrained and there is no demand per se. Even in cases where there is demand, there is no way to fulfil it. The dip in spends will get compensated as things start to get normal, he explained.
Stressing on the importance of marketing, Chenoy explained how business can stop for a month or two but conversations don’t. Efforts in social listening, brand building and recall cannot stop, she said.
Perhaps Grapes Digital’s Agarwal’s explanation on how it’s not easy but pitches haven’t stopped is the best way to sum up the discussion. Though Zoom meetings are a hurdle and virtual pitches more difficult to crack, agencies and brands are opening up to newer ways to keep going.
You can catch up on the entire discussion here: