Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai on building Sociowash on the pillars of talent & specialisation

Shamita Islur
Updated On
New Update
Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai

For co-founders Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai, building their agency Sociowash, came with its own set of challenges. With this being their eighth year in the advertising industry, they give an insight into the agency's structural blueprint.

For Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai building their agency, Sociowash came with their own set of challenges and opportunities.

"Neither of us come from the background. So it was a journey for us to be able to understand the market, to knock on the doors of brands and get them to join us," says Pranav Agarwal as he narrates the story of building the eight-year-old agency.

The two co-founders had a dream of working with big brands and the feeling of achieving the milestone of seeing their logo on the work created for brands kept them moving forward. 

Building A Workforce

Bagai observes that the challenges they faced, evolved at every stage. The first challenge, however, lay in building an agency when 100-year-old agencies already exist.

"The bigger challenge was being an independent agency where you're competing with network agencies who have infinite sources, who have years of legacy credibility, companies that have come from outside India. Establishing credibility became a big challenge." 

The second challenge came with retaining the talent responsible for their creativity. Back when they were first starting out, personal branding wasn’t huge. 

“Our first idea was not to work with brands, we were of the opinion that every person should have a brand.”

- Raghav Bagai

The agency believed that every person should have their own brand identity and tried to be creative with how they positioned themselves, right from hiring the apt partners and resources. 

Social media played a huge factor in attracting young talent wherein they used pop culture, movie and show references, and puns. Raghav believes that they got the best talent onboard because of that, which also helped them bring in brand mandates. 

Today, the agency which began with two people at the helm, has more than 250 people running the show.  

Fostering Growth

Bringing in the talent is one thing, fostering growth through them while fueling their creativity was the larger focus while building their culture. 

Bagai, emphasising on their product being the people said, “Giving a lot of ownership and responsibility to our teams gave a sense of growing this organisation together. We have people who have been with us for five years or more and they have their own teams today.” 

To maintain transparency within the team, they engage them through various activities from ‘Socio Friday’, ‘Sociowash Summit’ to team get-togethers where everyone openly discuss their concerns. Their fun activities are also documented through their social media presence.

Creativity & Consistency

Pranav Agarwal mentioned that in the first two to three years, they were able to bring in big brands and building on the slow and steady narrative gave them an opening to other brands as well. 

“The idea was to be able to do good work so that we get a lot of references, particularly from the brands that we did work with. And then to be able to create a certain level of work quality that would help back the case,” he continued, stating that this consistency and discipline created a domino effect.

Also Read: Cannes Lions 2023: Campaigns representing India Inc this year

Sociowash has worked with brands like Zomato, realme, Tinder, and more on integrated digital campaigns which reflects the use of the latest trends from influencer marketing, tech and more to add the relatability factor. 

Bagai said that the strength of their campaigns has been to be able to understand the young Indian consumer. 

He shared the idea behind the campaigns saying, “How do we create campaigns or content that can start conversations, which can stand out from the clutter that is happening? That's a simple philosophy right here.”

Agarwal mentioned that the approach to advertising has and needs to continue to change today. It previously used to focus on shining light on the brand before the common consumer. 

The approach of advertising today has changed from being brand-first to consumer-first. That has really changed because of digital coming into play. This is why it also reflects a lot in the ads around the world and us.”

- Pranav Agarwal

Age Of Specialisation

The approach to advertising hasn’t just changed on the consumer side. In this age, there are many brands that want multiple specialised agencies to handle their mandates, rather than a single agency handling the integrated marketing. The old days of AOR seem to be fading. 

Therefore, Sociowash evolved into an integrated agency by launching SW Studios, SW Academy, and an influencer space called Youthbeat.

Having seen the different phases of advertising, Bagai said that if you really want to give a solution to the brand, everything has to be under one trailer so that the whole solution can be a lot more cohesive. However, certain mistakes can lead to brands going for specialised agencies.

“The different areas of marketing work in tandem with each other and if results can be seen in one aspect but not in the other, that's where things start collapsing for brands, they don't get their returns and so on. There's a lot of issues in terms of ownership.”

When Sociowash launched multiple verticals, they wanted to have an entire ecosystem in one place, not just from a service standpoint for brands but for the entire advertising space. Their verticals today focus on production, influencer management and preparing youngsters for the advertising industry through their academy. 

Agarwal revealed the agency’s five-year plan for the future include working on launching a tech vertical to reach 2.5x growth in terms of finances, go for an IPO, and hopefully go global. 

sociowash Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai co-founders Sociowash Pranav Agarwal and Raghav Bagai Sociowash Sociowash 8th anniversary Sociowash anniversary Sociowash founders