#Throwback2020: Not letting a crisis go waste

#Throwback2020: Not letting a crisis go waste

Despite the pandemic, new entrants have lined up in the marketing and advertising block.


NEW DELHI: While battling the great recession in 2008, then chief of staff in POTUS Barack Obama’s office Rahm Emanuel had famously stated, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Emanuel was possibly inspired by Sir Winston Churchill, who’s believed to have said something along those lines in the mid-1940s, when the world was engulfed in the second World War. The thought became an anchor for a number of entrepreneurs in the Indian advertising and marketing industry too,  as they navigated a world turned upside down by the Covid2019 pandemic. The result – we witnessed a number of new agencies and specialist arms popping up throughout the year. 


It began with the launch of ^atom, an ad agency floated by Ogilvy ex-president - Mumbai and Kolkata Abhik Santara along with Yash Kulshresth and Ananda Sen. While the agency had been in the pipeline for more than five months before it was finally launched in April this year, it was a courageous decision on the team’s part to enter the market during the first phase of the lockdown. Well, the risk paid off, as they quickly won several accounts, including Lifology, Ahimsa Trust and Ezee. 

Dentsu Marketing Cloud Video+

Dentsu International’s Indian data science division fielded a unique OTT planner called Dentsu Marketing Cloud Video+ in April 2020. The tool provides an agnostic approach towards planning and buying on over-the-top TV (OTT) platforms. It, reportedly, became the first holistic product catering to planning and buying OTT audiences within the ecosystem. The tool was launched under the umbrella of DMC Explore, the proprietary Audience Intelligence tool of the data sciences division under its suite of products – the Dentsu Marketing Cloud (the overarching platform that houses DAN Data Labs).


House of Cheer Pvt Ltd, which was founded by former Viacom18 COO and media personality Raj Nayak in 2019, announced the launch of their new division, Happyness.me in June. Happyness.me is a proprietary tool that measures the happiness quotient of corporations and its people using behavioural psychology, neuroscience, and data analytics, with inputs from experts in the field. 

Ipsos Digital

Ipsos India unveiled its platform Ipsos Digital to provide the clients with cutting edge online research tools to aid their decision making. Ipsos India also announced the launch of its first online research offering of Fast Facts, which is a fully automated, DIY, AI-supported express tool to cater to clients’ quick research and advisory needs.


After quitting a 12-year-long stint with Volvo Cars, its first Indian director Sudeep Narayan founded the brand advisory firm brandhalō in August 2020. It is a boutique advisory firm providing marcomm and integrated e-commerce solutions to deliver business performance. The firm intends to add the halo-effect to a brand/corporate reputation, thereby turning customers to evangelists and fans.

DoyenOink Consulting

Expanding its elaborate portfolio of offerings, Zoo Media kickstarted DoyenOink Consulting in September this year. DoyenOink is a transformation and management consulting firm which leverages data intelligence, technology interventions, inventive strategic thinking and impactful communication to drive systematic solutions for business challenges across the spectrum, be it business and product strategy; operational and process structure; revenue and sales strategy; growth strategy; and consumer outreach. 


A niche marketing agency for the wellness industry, Kombat was launched in September 2020. The Delhi-based agency will provide services for brands in a variety of areas including social media, PR, events, collaborations, marketing strategy and more. It is founded by Neha Lidder, a specialist in marketing for over 20 years, and includes a team of professionals with backgrounds in design, PR, and digital marketing.

RD&X Network

Rajiv Dingra (previously founder and CEO of WATConsult, a digital agency part of Dentsu International), floated his latest entrepreneurial venture, RD&X Network, in October. It is said to be a deep-tech network that will drive brand, business, media and data transformation helping businesses globally become real-time, disruptive, and thereby achieve exponential growth. The company will leverage the impending deep tech and business model disruption across marketing, advertising, media, and business consulting with its offerings.

Digital Edify

Former FabIndia head of digital and social advocacy Gauri Awasthi also took the entrepreneurial route this year with the launch of an innovative design thinking and digital transformation enterprise named Digital Edify, DTBU, along with her co-founder Aakash Shrivastava. The agency aims to help build brand awareness, brand salience, desire, generate demand, convert into sales for brands by being advisors, brand advocates, and growth hackers. 


Advertising and brand communication leaders Saurabh Varma, Vandana Verma and Rakesh Hinduja collaborated to launch a platform-first start-up Wondrlab. The unique agency comes with three key verticals – content, experience, and digital business transformation to help clients win in the new marketing landscape. The agency also partnered with Amit Akali’s WYT in its first acquisition. 

Sensibly Weird

A former WPP talent, adman Subhas Warrier along with his partner Shyam Musthafa started a multidisciplinary creative solutions platform - Sensibly Weird Company in November this year. Based in Kochi, the company will help brands grow by creating “honest stories, designs, and creatives that break through the noise.”

Branding Edge

Former Enormous Brands’ strategist Rahul Tekwani floated his own strategic communication venture Branding Edge Strategic Communications and Advisory in December. It focuses on developing a brand and reputation program to help achieve business goals, build awareness and credibility, and will enhance the long-term enterprise value of the clients.  The company will also be providing 360-degree services, which include branding, design, digital strategy and research and data-driven storytelling, and influencer engagement strategies. 


Former president of Mullen Lintas, Syed Amjad Ali announced the launch of his own firm Catalysts in December. The start-up will be a content and brand strategy platform.