1- Can you walk us through your professional journey and share some of the career changing moments you have encountered during your decade-long tenure in the advertising industry?

I have been fortunate to turn my passion into my career, working across various facets of the advertising industry, from traditional OOH media to digital planning, and from agency roles to brand management. Each experience has provided valuable lessons that have shaped my approach to marketing and media planning. This journey has been of continuous learning and a commitment to creating impactful and innovative marketing strategies.

There were three turning points in my career.

One of the most significant career-changing moments was my specialization in digital planning at Mindshare. This shift not only broadened my skill set but also catapulted me to the forefront of the industry’s evolution towards digital media. Imagine jumping from a comfortable, familiar boat into the uncharted waters of the digital sea—it was exhilarating! Navigated through the waves of algorithms and data analytics, and even managed to stay afloat. This period was like attending a media planning boot camp, where I emerged not only stronger but also with a digital compass in hand, ready to blend traditional and digital media strategies seamlessly.

Then the move to Linen Club was another pivotal moment. Think of it as crossing over to the dark side—or rather, the brand side. It was my first foray into brand management, providing a fresh perspective on the advertising industry. It was like discovering the secret behind the magician’s tricks. Understanding the brand’s challenges and opportunities from the inside allowed me to develop more empathetic and effective media strategies. Plus, it was nice to finally see what happens behind the curtain!

And finally, Subway has been a defining moment in my career. It is like reaching the summit after a long climb. Now, leading the charge, wielding my marketing tongs, and layering on the strategic ingredients to build the perfect sub—uh, I mean campaign. Leading the marketing efforts for a global brand like Subway is both a challenge and an opportunity to make a significant impact. It is a bit like being handed the keys to an exceptionally large, very well-stocked kitchen.

2- Can you please outline some of the pivotal digital trends that will influence the industry in next 2 year?

Over the next two years, rapid technological advancements and shifts in consumer behaviour will significantly impact the advertising industry. Advertisers who embrace innovative technologies and focus on digital and mobile-friendly content will be better positioned to engage their audiences. Staying innovative and relevant for different sets of consumers while navigating the evolving digital landscape will be crucial.

Key trends to watch include:

1. Video content will continue its dominance, with short-form videos, live streaming, and interactive videos gaining traction. Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts will see increased ad spend as brands leverage their popularity to engage younger audiences, with short videos becoming the preferred format for storytelling.

2. Social media platforms are evolving into shopping destinations, with features like shoppable posts, in-app checkout, and social storefronts making it easier for consumers to purchase directly from social media. Brands will capitalize on this trend by creating seamless shopping experiences and leveraging influencer partnerships.

3. AI and machine learning will revolutionize digital advertising through predictive analytics and personalized ad targeting, enhancing campaign precision and effectiveness. AI will enable real-time consumer behaviour analysis, allowing dynamic ad adjustments and improved ROI, while chatbots and virtual assistants provide more personalized customer interactions.

4. Finally, hyperlocal & programmatic advertising will become even more sophisticated, with advanced targeting and real-time bidding capabilities. Advertisers will use programmatic to deliver highly relevant ads to specific audience segments, optimizing their ad spend. The use of first-party data will be crucial in refining targeting strategies.

3.Please tell us about the key activities of the Subway in the year gone by, as well as the plans for the coming year.

Over the past year, Subway has been learning and understanding itself—quite literally—with fresh initiatives and tantalizing twists. We experimented with the menu and launched two mega campaigns called Hotsellers and Grills. To reach our relevant audiences, we explored numerous branding platforms, using simple yet quirky communication. After being quiet in the media for a few years, we made a robust comeback with multimedia campaigns where Digital and TV took the lead, supported by OOH, Print, and cinema. We are continuing to experiment and learn what works best for the brand, ensuring that our efforts are as dynamic and flavourful as our sandwiches.

4. As an advertiser, what are your thoughts on brands spending a significant amount of money on CTV this year, especially during events like IPL, elections, and CWC T20?

Absolutely, major events like IPL, World Cup, and elections attract immense attention from consumers, making it crucial for brands to leverage these opportunities effectively. However, the increased competition during such events can create clutter in the advertising space. To stand out amidst this clutter, it is essential for brands to have clear objectives and a communication strategy that resonates with their target audience. This means crafting messages that are not only relevant but also memorable and impactful, ensuring that the brand remains top- of-mind amid the flurry of advertisements. Investing in Connected TV (CTV) during these events can indeed be strategic, as it allows brands to reach a broad and diverse audience while offering interactive and personalized ad experiences.

This approach can significantly enhance brand awareness and drive consumer engagement, leading to a positive impact on brand perception and sales. Therefore, while navigating through the clutter, having a well-defined strategy, and compelling communication is key to making the most of these high-stakes advertising opportunities.

5. How has the target audience evolved over a period?

The concept of the target audience has evolved significantly beyond simplistic demographic categorizations such as age, socioeconomics, and gender. Today, even within the same age group, diverse interests shaped by geography, media habits, and cultural influences lead to distinct consumer behaviours. The emergence of new generational cohorts like Gen Z, Gen Alpha, Millennials, Zillennials, and Boomers adds further complexity, each group exhibiting unique characteristics and preferences. For example, a Gen Z individual in Delhi may prioritize differently compared to their counterpart in Nagpur, emphasizing the need for localized insights. This complexity necessitates that advertisers deeply understand their audiences and adapt strategies accordingly. It is no longer about a static target; it is a dynamic understanding requiring continuous adaptation and refinement. Leveraging digital platforms, advertisers can tailor messages effectively to resonate with diverse audience segments, fostering meaningful engagement and driving impactful results.

6. What challenges do you face as a QSR brand, and how do you overcome them?

Advertising as a QSR brand presents several unique challenges that require strategic approaches to overcome effectively. Firstly, reaching a mass target audience while distinguishing our offerings in a saturated food market is paramount. This involves crafting campaigns that span the entire consumer journey—from building awareness to driving actual sales. Ensuring a positive return on investment (ROI) after media spend is crucial, necessitating meticulous tracking and analysis of campaign effectiveness. Choosing the right platforms becomes pivotal; our selections align closely with our target audience’s preferences and behaviours to maximize impact. Our goal is not just to generate buzz but to translate that into tangible increases in sales, making every advertising rupee count towards achieving measurable business outcomes.

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