Roopak Saluja (man at your right) is a busy man and a proud Founder & Chief Executive Officer at The 120 Media Collective, parent company of Bang Bang Films and Jack in The Box Worldwide. However he was quick to respond positively to my early morning tweet a fortnight ago, when I had requested him to make some time for a conversation on his journey with his venture and thoughts on the social media marketing industry in India.
The extensive conversation happened on a weekday post lunch over a conference call, with me being at Pune, Roopak and his colleagues Abhishek Razdan (Senior VP & Business Head) and Mairu Gupta (Vice President and Business Head) joining in from Mumbai and Delhi respectively.
Early days with BBF and JITB
After a quick exchange of pleasantries, Roopak started with the initial days. The journey started a few years before the formation of Jack in The Box Worldwide (JITB). After a brief stint in the advertising world, Roopak shared that he went for his MBA (INSEAD) following which he started Bang Bang Films (BBF) - India’s International Production Company. The company founded in 2006 is in its seventh year and is one of the region’s foremost commercials production brands servicing clients and agencies across Asia-Pacific.
BBF grew as a “doing company”. But, Roopak felt that they were missing out something as he didn’t want to settle with a doing company; instead he wanted a “thinking and doing company.”
In 2009, after three years of the formation of BBF, the founder realized the missing bit - the power of the narrative…storytelling. This led to the formation of Jack in the Box Worldwide (JITB) in 2009, which is today responsible for building content for anything other than television commercials.
However, Jack In the Box had to wait for their first success which came in the form of Puma’s integrated campaign – Pimp Your Soul. The campaign was launched in 2011 by PUMA for a spunky new range of flip-flops that had creatives crowdsourced from social.
“The campaign had on ground activation, video content and social media integration too. This was the first big campaign after some of our initial work didn’t click. This got us recognition and suddenly there was a lot of buzz,” Roopak shared.
Within a short span of time JITB has emerged into one of South Asia’s most reputed and heavily awarded digital agencies. Today it is not just a social media agency but a full fledged digital media agency too. Though one thing was still not right and that was the positioning of the company - it was a bit distorted.
“We sorted it all. Today 120 Media Collective is the parent company which has a content multi-platform Bang Bang Films along with a digital arm Jack In the Box Worldwide. So we are an integrated communication agency with digital being at its core, providing media agnostic solutions,” added Roopak, who had by now found his #thinkinganddoing company.
Social media in India
[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]Social media is rapidly evolving. It was different in 2009 and it will be different in 2015 too.[/pullquote]
Today the firm is doing some of the most acclaimed campaigns (digital and social) with well known brands such as Pepsi, Nivea, 7UP, etc. Though Roopak thinks that social media is a medium which is still evolving quite rapidly, it is completely different to what it was in 2009 or what it will be in 2015. However, content would be one of the key differentiators still, as it has been in the past.
Abhishek (on your right), who works from the JITB Mumbai office, was also of the same opinion and thinks that many brands today have understood that content is the role player to generate interests on the medium. Mairu, who has recently joined the Delhi office, also pitched in to add, “From ‘like’ wars and the engagement wave, brands are interested to know more about the calculated measured way on social media.”
Social media = Community platform building
Further to the evolution of social in the country, Roopak added that the ultimate aim should be of building platforms. Explaining more on it, he shared the Louis Philip campaign where JITB had built a lifestyle platform and had introduced exclusive content on it with rising user acceptance.
Pitching into the discussion, Abhishek shared the recent Nivea campaign, where the idea was to ask people on social the things that came to their mind when someone says “Just in 5 minutes.” The phrase trended globally for two days on Twitter and later on the brand took the onus of the hashtag with the launch of the Nivea total face cleanup product. Further to this the brand received 30,000 organic requests for the product sample. The initiatives that were taken up during this year’s IPL for the creation of a youth platform for Pepsi were also discussed.
Social has been one of the aspects that JITB has been working on but it doesn’t want to focus only on it. In this mobile first world, the company is also focusing on integrating mobile and bringing brands closer to its audience. Both Abhishek and Roopak informed, “Mobile is primarily in his mind since from a convenience device it has also become a content consumption device and even the ROI in mobile is high too.”
ROI in social media
Mairu (on your right), who had been a great listener all the while, added that, “ROI means different to different brands and is clearly measurable. For an eCommerce brand it would be driving traffic resulting in more sales of products and for a content portal it would be ensuring social acting as a lubricant for conversations and top of mind awareness.”
Talking on the future, Roopak thinks only being social isn’t self sufficient, that is why today they are a full fledged integrated communications agency. However, with the growing interest on analytics and other players building social media 24*7 support centers, he wishes to have one large BFSI client so they can have a similar setup too.
The road ahead
[pullquote id=”lhipull” class=”left_pull”]In-house social media by brands is the future.[/pullquote]
Besides he also thinks that the future is about brands pushing their core social media functions in-house like Nike has done. He thinks that, “In the next seven to eight years social media will be tightly defined by the brand with most of the tech aspects being outsourced. The idea would be to bring core social media under the brand’s supervision.” I wasn’t too surprised by his candid thoughts. He also stressed that it will only happen when the country’s top 50 advertisers start appointing digital native CMOs.
Also, Roopak is not too happy with how the industry is treating agencies. “Investments by brands on the medium needs to go up in order to hire quality talent to produce quality work. Right now this is not happening and needs to be changed,” adds Roopak, who is proud to hire some of the best minds internationally, most of whom have been delivering work that is being appreciated not only at the awards night but also by users who engage with their work on a regular basis.
The interesting conversations lasted for more than an hour, strengthening my belief on the role that content plays. Especially, since it came from a man who has been in the business of content and creatives from the ripe age of 23.