Don’t cut corners in your investment towards nurturing your talent: Chetan Asher

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Chetan Asher

Chetan Asher sheds light on the evolving landscape of the A & M industry in the post-pandemic era. He explains how marketers need to be prudent in their investment of time and resources as we move towards 2022.

The pandemic brought many challenges and opportunities in the advertising and media industry. Chetan Asher, Founder & CEO, Tonic Worldwide, and Jury member of Social Samosa 40 under 40, sheds light on the various facets of the industry and explains how marketers can leverage the existing trends that commenced during the pandemic the evolving market towards 2022.

Edited Excerpts

The pandemic resultant digital acceleration brought out various interesting faces of digital marketing. What are some of the crucial digital marketing trends seen in the post-pandemic world?

The post-pandemic landscape has changed - the way consumers view the brands and the role they play in their lives.

Overall, the consumers have responded well to brands that communicated with empathy and invested in building a long-term connection. This shift of lens will only get stronger and brands who invest in adding value to consumer's life will be rewarded.

The other big change is the adoption of the online commerce model right from FMCG to automobiles. We see brands offering consumers a seamless online experience to try and buy the product. Further, the consumers would want a choice, and brands will have to offer e-commerce channels if they already are not or will have to evolve and modify the existing channels to make it more intuitive and customer-centric.

The Industry still dabbles with the hybrid-work model, how does this impact the agency operations. At Tonic, how do you manage client expectations?

Throughout the industry, the shift that has happened was much needed. The creative process doesn’t need to be confined to four walls, which literally allows one to not just think outside the box but work outside of it. At the same time, the process involves collaboration, and teams need space and time to do that.

We are reimagining our offices as a collab space and not just rows of desks. At Tonic, we have been fortunate to have clients who value the work coming out and not about where it’s done and subscribe to our thinking that talent and good work can happen from anywhere.

Economic volatility has been one of the biggest troubles seen in the pandemic - any tips for creating an agile financial plan, especially for independent agencies?

We need to be prudent about how we invest our resources and time. As part of the processes in the industry, the pitch work requires a lot of time and energy; one needs to be selective to not take up everything that comes your way.

Don’t cut corners in your investment towards nurturing your talent.

More & more brands have been building internal creative teams. Additionally, campaign-centric mandates have been another trend. Do you think that the practice of long-term retainers is fading?

There are brands that value long-term partnerships and want to build brands together with agency partners while there are brands that like working with multiple partners. There is a space for both kinds of engagements. To answer the question, no, the long-term retainers are not fading.

With the evolving industry, how has the client-agency relationship changed? What do you think clients expect from agencies?

With the evolving industry, the clients expect the agencies to not just deliver ROI but also demonstrate agility and help them navigate the ever-changing environment around us.

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2021 saw the debate of work-life balance in the M&A industry enter a crucial phase. A number of industry veterans have pointed out that due to increasing competition & pandemic-induced monetary pressure, agencies tend to offer their expertise at a cheaper cost, with a focus on anytime service, resulting in unrealistic & unhealthy demands. What are your thoughts on the same? What, in your opinion, is the actual issue & how can it be solved?

I beg to differ here. Yes, the initial months were a little chaotic but digital has seen tremendous growth and most digital agencies have successfully navigated pandemic induced monetary pressure. The young talent in agencies don’t just need support but also need to be given the confidence to set expectations with the clients. So, the lines between work and personal time aren’t blurred.

For the larger issue, it needs collective determination to not encourage unrealistic demands as an industry. And I say collective because if one blinks rest will follow and it will continue.

Can you share a few marketing trends seen in the UAE market? From a fundamental perspective, how is the UAE market different from India?

It’s a heterogeneous market and hence cultural nuances play a huge role. It is almost as if you are catering to a global market and hence your marketing speaks to multiple cohorts. With expo2020 and forward-looking policies, the digital market is poised for huge growth and the opportunities are immense.

Digital marketing trends that you foresee for 2022

We will see that the trends that have commenced during the pandemic - evolve, consolidate and strengthen in 2022

As a jury member of Social Samosa 40 Under 40, what is the one element that you will look at in every entry?

Someone who has added value to the overall industry or brought a different perspective.

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