With ‘focus on the future’ as its theme, the 25-year-old Crayons Advertising has launched five new divisions to offer more customised solutions to its advertisers.
Not that people haven’t heard of Crayons Advertising, but let’s face it – it isn’t the biggest fish out there,
or even a big fish. But what sets Crayons apart is .....that it knows how to play the game. Just recently, the agency’s Indian National Congress win (touted at over Rs 200 crore) got the industry talking. As the agency celebrates its silver jubilee, it has a rather bright picture to paint.
However, all was not rosy when Kunal Lalani, managing director, Crayons started out. Fresh out of college and refusing to join his father’s traditional business, he founded Crayons Advertising in Delhi, a market looked down upon by the creative geniuses. But he had the determination to fight against all odds and believed in his dreams. “The initial 3-4 years were tough, but they taught me lessons for life. There was a resolve that I had to make it happen. We changed with the changing times and that’s how Crayons has reached where it is today,” Kunal reminisces.
Based out of a small office in 1986, Crayons grew slow and steady for the next 10 years. With Beetel as its first client, the agency focused more on servicing existing businesses than acquiring new ones.
Building on a silent yet sturdy performance, Crayons expanded its presence, opening its first branch in Chandigarh in 1996. The next few years witnessed perpetual growth of the company marking its presence nationally in Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Trivandrum and internationally in Dubai and Nepal. With revenues crossing Rs 100 crore, Crayons became the largest independently-run agency in India. “We did not run behind numbers. Relationships have been our biggest priority since inception,” says Kunal. “We are lucky that most of the clients we worked with have stuck to us. The reason is our belief in advertising that works. The bottom line is not what we are doing best, but what is working best for the business of our client. The crux is to bring value, not only in terms of money but also advice and usage. Building relationships and understanding clients’ mindset has been most crucial for us. Sharing the same passion as the client for the business is what makes all the difference.” The turning point for Crayons came when it bagged the Indian National Congress election ad campaign, leaving heavyweights of the advertising business behind. Says Kunal, “It just transformed people’s view about Crayons.
It took our business to a different level.”
After 25 years, Crayons is now poised to see the next level of growth through its five new specialised agencies in media planning and buying, out-of-home, digital and BTL domains. Melon, Amber, Ultraviolet and Jade are the new avatars of the group in these verticals. On the focus in these offerings, Kunal says, “Media and creative got separated a long time ago. Not only evolved marketers, even government clients now want specialists rather than integrated players. That triggered the transition.”
Crayons is hiring the best talent in the industry to lead different functions. The first in that direction is media servicing industry veteran Gopinath Menon, co-founder and CEO of Melon Media. He is being touted as the best bet for Crayons. Gopi plans to break stereotypes. Ruing current practices in the trade, he says, “Everyone in this industry chases a better price. There are 20 big players, but everyone is doing the same thing. The focus is only on quantity, not quality. There is no real bonding between client and agency.
“Ever since media and creative divorced, it is rare for objectives to be in sync and the biggest sufferer is the brand. Communication today is not creating viewpoints or conversations. These are some gaps that Melon Media will try to correct. It will help media investment connect with market plans better to ensure a smarter ROI. Its initiative will be planning-led, not just buying-led. It will not only drive efficiencies, but drive effectiveness as well.”
Creating media-shapers would now be his priority, says Gopi, adding, “The task in hand is not easy, but Melon will run hard. We will strive to be media-shapers rather than planners. Media-shapers will look at markets, opinions, lifestyle, research, ideologies before planning. We will invest in building media-shapers, not media buyers.”
What next for Crayon? “To be among the top 10 ad agencies in India in the next three years,”