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Q] You turned 5 in August but just last week released an anniversary video which says Sideways doesn’t fit into a box, a genre or a type…so what is Sideways if a client were to define you?

Sideways is a creative problem-solving company. It’s a curious mix of a consulting firm, an advertising firm, a tech solutions company, a product design studio and a circus maybe. We can solve problems and explode opportunities in surprisingly impactful ways. If you’re willing to let go of old legacy methods and be a tad imaginative and brave in approaching issues, then we would love to partner you.

Q] The year 2020 has been a crash landing of sorts for most agencies, big and small… How did Sideways survive the Covid-19 fury?

The pandemic threw so much out of gear for pretty much everyone. While we were affected too, the diverse nature of projects we do helped cushion the blow a great deal. So in the initial months when the advertising work was at a pause, our product design projects, tech projects, long-term strategy projects and the digital stuff continued. Also, to help out businesses at large, we set up a Smart Recovery lab (SRL) which churned out offbeat solutions for companies. This found takers too. These coupled with the absolute dedication and commitment of the entire Sideways team helped us tide over. I think the worst is behind us, and things look on course for now.

'We are Sideways' video

Sideways Logo Generator tribute to Clients and Team

Q] Being an independent agency during this time was a blessing or curse?

Being an indie, one has absolute freedom to do what we deem correct – for our people, our clients, the business environment. We could continue to operate in a manner that did not derail from our philosophy of how we want to grow Sideways.

Q] How important do you think is specialization in this era? What separates Sideways from Ogilvy, your alma mater?

The business environment is so complex out there these days that old school, legacy methods just don’t cut the ice. From diagnosing the problems to developing a battery of solutions – everything needs a wholistic approach. So one needs specialists who come together, understand the big picture from their lens, and then put it all together like a jigsaw puzzle. We have developed our own processes organically: when we analyse a problem or opportunity it is guided by a detailed design system which includes the lens of brand and communications, service or product experience, technology experience etc. to figure which are the broken parts and how best to solve for them, and how to get them to work in tandem. So that two and two, becomes twenty two. All this is possible because of the diverse nature of specialists we have. That is what separates Sideways from others. We are solution neutral, and our motto is ‘Do the right thing’.

Q] You created Great Learning’s maiden TVC, tell us about the upcoming work that excites you

There’s a fair amount of exciting stuff that has recently got launched or is in the pipeline. Some that come to mind immediately are: a unique Travel Show (yes, in these Covid times) for Havmor ice creams on digital, the launch of Dr. Safe (a new range of sanitization products) for Pidilite, an interesting new service for Thomas Cook. And yes, if all goes well our own range of toys & games, developed in partnership with Reliance Brands, should hit the markets soon.

Q] Give us an idea of the broad areas of work by Sideways in the past year that makes it a rather untraditional agency model?

There are so many things we do that separates us from regular advertising agencies. With each passing month more and more differentiated projects get added to the list. We have reimagined loyalty programs, developed tech platforms to solve for distribution issues, developed new products for companies, designed service experiences (offline and online), built innovative UI/UX solutions etc, created craft kits for a school program etc.

Great Learning Film

Havmor Passport

Work done for brands this year

P&G, Pidilite, Citibank, Ashirvad Pipes, Havmor, Lubrizol, Urban Company, Nature’s Essence, Great Learning, Niyo, Sporjo, Thomas Cook, Mangalam Camphor, Industree, Suhana Masala, Indian Cancer Society.

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Tags : interview Neeta Nair ABHIJIT AVASTHI Sideways