Q] Can you tell us about the journey of White Rivers Media (WRM) since its inception, and how it has evolved as a full-service, independent advertising agency in today’s competitive landscape?
Mitesh: Our journey at WRM has been quite remarkable. Back in the 2000s, the advertising landscape was different, and we saw an opportunity to fill a gap in what brands needed and what was being offered at that time. Social media was still emerging, and we believed we could provide valuable solutions in this space. Our early years were marked by the trust and support of clients who believed in our potential. One significant example was Red Bus, a brand that became one of our first big clients based solely on our passion and conviction to help them navigate the social platforms. From there on, our journey took off, as we focused on creative effectiveness, utilising creativity to drive tangible results for our clients.
Shrenik: We have experienced different growth stages: zero to one (2012-2015), one to ten (2014/15-2018/19), and the real rocket-ship phase (2019 onwards) during which our team and client base expanded significantly. Our workforce has grown from 80 to nearly 500 employees today. This transformative journey has shaped WRM into its current state.
Q] Being an independent agency in the midst of network agencies can be challenging. What are you doing to stand out?
Shrenik: One thing we excel at and have learned to harness over time is the power of subcultures. We believe that subcultures define conversations, and conversations lead to conversions, making them an excellent gateway to achieving ROI. We love working in subcultures as they allow us to strike up meaningful conversations with people who belong to these specific groups. In India, some prominent subcultures include cricket, Bollywood, religion, politics, stocks, FMCG, and start-ups. Although we chose not to work extensively in politics and religion, we focused on the other four. By zooming out on each subculture, we have categorised them as sports, media & entertainment, BFSI, FMCG, and start-ups. This unique approach to categorise clients and growth has been fundamental to our success.
Q] ‘Capital Z’ sounds intriguing. Could you provide more insights into this research-based service lab and how it aids brands to connect with Gen Z?
Mitesh: ‘Capital Z’ addresses the crucial need for brands to understand and connect with Gen Z, who currently make up nearly 30% of the working population in the country. This generation is fundamentally different from the previous ones, and it is essential for CMOs and CXOs, who are primarily millennials, to comprehend their unique set of audiences. At WRM, we recognised a lack of national data or a think tank to guide businesses in understanding Gen Z and their Digital lives. To bridge this gap, we have leveraged our robust research and planning capabilities, redirecting them toward comprehending this generation. The outcome is the launch of the first report under ‘Capital Z.’ It serves as a dedicated arm that collaborates with brands, offering research-driven insights into Gen Z’s potential audience, lifestyle choices, data sets, and perceptions of brands. By combining this research with our core offerings in Digital and social outreach, we provide brands with a strategic communication layout to effectively engage with this audience.
Q] WRM’s portfolio seems incredibly diverse, ranging from sports marketing to movie promotions, and even reality shows. How does your team manage to excel in such varied verticals?
Mitesh: Excelling in diverse verticals is rooted in our core fundamentals, which involve a strong learning, briefing, and debriefing process. We have created specialised teams within our organisation, focusing on different verticals, such as entertainment, FMCG, BFSI, and more. Empowering these teams to constantly learn and share knowledge with relevant stakeholders is essential to our success. A key aspect of our approach is implementing cross-vertical learning. By drawing insights and experiences from various sectors, such as BFSI, we bring fresh perspectives to our work in entertainment or other domains. This mindset of learning from different industries allows us to create innovative and effective marketing strategies that stand out in the market.
Q] The Digital campaign for the Indian debut of Shark Tank was a game-changer, and the show became popular in no time. What were the key elements of this campaign that contributed to its overwhelming success?
Shrenik: The key to the success of the Shark Tank campaign was its authenticity and relatability. We aimed to showcase real entrepreneurs, who could connect well with the audience and had fascinating stories to share. To achieve this, we focused on amplifying their journeys and messages through content that resonated with popular culture, such as memes.
Mitesh: We drew from our childhood experiences and understood the stigmas faced by business families. Our client encouraged us to create relatable content for a broader audience, including 40-year-old housewives in smaller towns in UP, Bihar, and Jharkhand. By crafting engaging content for both metro and Bharat audiences, we initiated a movement that surpassed expectations. The success of the show was evident as diverse backgrounds started engaging with cap tables and investments, showcasing the campaign’s wide reach and impact.
Q] Tell us about your collaboration with global influencer Khaby Lame for Dream11’s campaign. How did this partnership happen, and what made the content so popular among social media users?
Shrenik: Collaborating with Khaby Lame was an exciting challenge, especially because he didn’t speak English at the time. Nonetheless, we saw a natural fit between his content and Dream11’s tagline, ‘Dimag Lagana Hai Toh Dream11 Par Lagao.’ Every single content piece created by Khaby Lame could have easily become an ad for Dream11. The partnership with him, a global influencer, was a first-time collaboration for any Indian brand, and the content we created resonated incredibly well with the Indian internet ecosystem. It became a huge victory for us, and it demonstrated the success of our philosophy of understanding subcultures and hacking into them to deliver impactful campaigns.
Q] WRM offers a range of services, including social media marketing, influencer marketing, video production, and media buying. Can you share a recent success story where the combination of these services led to outstanding results for a client?
Shrenik: We had the pleasure of working with Boat when they hosted the global sensation, Quick Style, during their visit to India. We organised a performance for Quick Style on a local train during their India trip, despite the logistical challenges. To further amplify the reach, we strategically placed a ‘vote for a patch-up’ organic placement in the video. The outcome was astounding, as the video broke all records for this year, garnering nearly five crore organic views and millions of likes without any paid promotions. The combination of creators, videos, strategic PR, and brand promotion resulted in one of the most viral and successful branded content pieces to date.
Q] In an industry where clients’ needs are ever-changing, how does WRM stay ahead of the curve in terms of innovative services and solutions to cater to diverse brand requirements?
Mitesh: Our unique advantage lies in the fact that we can experiment and adopt new approaches without being constrained by size or bureaucracy. We designate specific responsibilities for exploring new areas, with both experienced and young team members collaborating to create innovative solutions that align with technological trends. For instance, generative AI is an area I am leading, and by combining fresh perspectives with industry expertise, we continuously develop and apply effective solutions. Once a successful model is established, we can replicate it across the organisation, staying with the curve and catering to diverse brand requirements.
Q] Who are White River Media’s top clients?
Shrenik: We have had the privilege of working with some remarkable clients. To name a few, we’ve been working closely with one of our favourite actors, Shah Rukh Khan, and his production house, Red Chillies Entertainment. We are currently serving as Digital Marketing Partners for their upcoming movie, ‘Jawan’. Additionally, we have had successful collaborations with RB Adventure Group, TikTok, Durex, Swiggy, and Dineout.
Q] What kind of growth has the agency seen in the last year?
Shrenik: Over the past year, we have experienced remarkable growth. Pre-COVID, our team consisted of around 100 members, and now we have expanded to nearly 500 employees, signifying a 5x growth during the pandemic and beyond. Moreover, our client base has witnessed two types of expansion. First, a notable horizontal expansion, where we have acquired clients across multiple cohorts and ventured into new domains. Second, a vertical expansion by deepening our expertise and offerings within the existing verticals.
About the Agency
White Rivers Media is one of the largest independent and integrated Digital advertising agencies, working with entertainment, FinTech, FMCG, D2C, Web3 brands and more. The agency has won more than 400 national and international accolades for its campaigns for Dream11, Sony TV’s Shark Tank India, and Hershey’s India, among others.
• Social Media Marketing
• Influencer Marketing
• Search Engine Marketing
• Video Production
• Web Design and Development
• Search Engine Optimization
• Sequential Storytelling
• Programmatic Advertising
• Alternate Media Planning
Swiggy Dineout, Shark Tank India, Sony LIV, Sony TV, Jio Saavn, Times Network, Universal Pictures India, Amazon minITV, T-Series, Zee Studios, Junglee Pictures, Star Plus, Sony Pictures Networks India, Voot Select, ITC, Glenmark La Shield, realme, realme DIZO, TCS Global, Reliance Jewels, Astral Adhesives, Astral Pipes, Liberty General Insurance, Piramal, Health & Glow, Buds & Berries, Ikonic Professional, BKT Tyres, Sin Denim amongst others.