One of India’s leading digital advertising and promotion marketing agencies, Hungama Digital Services offers a range of digital solutions ranging from creative and promo marketing services, to viral marketing campaigns, social media strategies, and from mobile marketing to applications, websites and video services. We speak to Manesh Swamy, Creative Director, Hungama Digital Services and make him spill the beans of what makes HDS stand apart from the crowd.
Amidst the span of 15 years, what kind of evolving trends did you witness in the digital medium?
Oh! I’m already feeling nostalgic. 1998 was when I was introduced to the digital medium and I was blown away by the enormous flow of information.
I still remember seeing animated GIFs on HTML websites and was in awe. When I made my first website, I knew this was my calling. Those days owning an email ID was a privilege, and if you had websites on your name that meant you had arrived. In the early 2000, communications on the digital medium was completely dominated by flash websites. Super jazzed-up 2D animations or stories would welcome users onto their respective sites with a skip intro button. As the connectivity improved digital creatives graduated to more evolved storytelling, so now you could have 3D animations and videos beaming on your web screen. In the last 7-8 years, the medium is on super-fast trip. The advent of social media platforms has completely changed the face of the digital medium; we have started to literally breathe digital in and out, and for the coming generation it will be a way of life. There was a time few years back, on your social feeds, one out of the 10 feeds must have been a video; but now 10 out of 10 feeds are video content. I am fortunate to have witnessed an array of trends – from heavy content-related campaigns to on-ground digital innovations like ‘Augmented Reality’, and activations (motion, touch and sound sensory experiences). As of now ‘Virtual Reality’, ‘Holographic Projections’ and rich interactive 360-degree videos are leading the way. I am sure, lot of people like me were waiting for a time like this. The right time is now!
What role do you play in the company?
On my visiting card, it reads as the ‘Creative Director’ of HDS. My role is to come up with creative solutions to the client’s problems/situations in the digital medium. In other words, developing advertising and promotional campaigns for brands. It’s a humble feeling to lead a fabulous team of creative people who are experts in visualizing, conceptualization, web designing, content creation, CG animations, illustrations, sound designers, and filmmaking for the digital medium. My role requires to be abreast with the latest trends and technologies, which can be used as solutions. I also work very closely with all our clients to understand their situations, guiding and working along with them to achieve desired results. I started my career as a faculty, so I keep training, mentoring and learning along with the team. My role is also to get the right talent in the creative team who will be our future leaders in the company.
Describe a usual day in your life.
My average day begins at 6.30 am. Breathing, meditating and drinking lots of water. I hit the gym on weekdays or cycle/dance on weekends. Mornings are mostly hyperactive as me and my wife – we both head to work at the same time. One of the most important task is to get my 7-year-young son ready for school. I stay in the other part of the island (Read: Vashi) and my office is in Mahalaxmi. So, daily I’m behind the wheel for at least 3 hours. I’m glad I have my best friend-cum-colleague as a decent co-passenger.
Work starts by 10 am with quick meetings or calls with my seniors and team, taking a stock of things lined up for the day or the week. Special attention is given to all the red flags. The rest of the day is spent on briefing, brainstorming, con-calls, escalation, appraisals, and more.
Lunch is sacrosanct with the team as a practice, which is going on for the last 12 years of mine at Hungama, where we make imaginary travel plans, crib about the food that comes from home, and random ranting about topical things.
As we have teams across Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore, I work closely with all the regional Business Heads of the office. And when required, I travel to beautiful cities where our clients are based out of (perks of the job).
Being in an agency, we don’t have the luxury of leaving early, so on weekdays whatever time I reach home, I try to make it up for my wife, Shikha and son. Weekends are mostly for family where I’m constantly trying to stay away from my screens.
I would like to say I’m privileged to choose a job that I love from my heart, and I get paid for having fun. Every single day I look forward to work and crack something new or learn something new. This is a target I have set for myself, the day I feel otherwise I will search for a new job.
What is the recipe of creating great digital media campaigns?
According to me, there are lot of recipes that goes into making of a kickass digital media campaign. Understanding the brand challenge is the first milestone. Next comes consumer insights; if you don’t live the consumer’s situation how will you be able to crack a solution for them. I feel keeping the idea minimalistic and simple solves most of the situation. If something can be done in 2 steps please don’t confuse the users by taking them through a maze. Today’s digital consumer are spoilt for choices; if your campaign cannot hold them for 5 secs they will search for a skip button frantically and buzz off from your content. Also, they don’t hold themselves back if they don’t like your content. Reaching out to the relevant audience is equally important as creating the content. What is the point if you made a kickass campaign and nobody watched it?
What are the top three traits you look in a person before hiring them?
Apart from the good work and skill-sets, the first thing I see in a candidate is his/her hunger for creating some amazing work; hunger for self-growth, and hunger for winning big. Secondly, passion is something I look forward to when I’m meeting candidates. Are they passionate enough or will they just do mediocre job is what I evaluate.
I also look forward to people who are grounded and yet can take a required flight. I prefer having a compassionate team member than an intelligent arrogant one.