What works and what doesn’t in the Indian ad space – a look at some of the most creative agencies


Marketing in India has a chequered history. The 90s saw some of the greatest works emerge in the space of advertising and storytelling for legacy brands.

There were some that changed the game. The classic “Kya swaad hai Zindag kai’ with Cadbury, Eustace Fernandes’ work with the Amul Girl and the clever usage of the word “butterly” in topical campaigns, Fevikwik’s intelligent advertising using the fisherman and tourist concept, stand out among these.

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While these are the legacy greats, there has been some groundbreaking work done in the last few years as well. Recent innovations in the media space mean that advertising is not limited to just print or television, with online channels playing a significant role. However, with this new medium, simple organic reach is not an option and huge sums of money are pumped to achieve greater reach. For instance, a YouTube commercial gets 3 million views but with just 100 likes and 40 comments. For some these numbers – the reach and the demographics – matter more than content.

Others still believe in doing things from the ground up, and their results are no less commendable. Here are some of the best ones so far –

Ogilvy – The agency, with roots from the Mad Men days, has produced some of the greatest works in India. Its history spans decades and the way it operates is like an industry in itself. With thousands of employees spanning different departments – they are synonymous with good advertising.

Make Love not scars, one of the best ads from 2016, won multiple awards and really started a dialogue about how things are in India

Sagmeister and Walsh – You must have seen the latest trippy Frooti ads that are doing the rounds these days. The agency behind all of that and some more really creative work is Sagmeister and Walsh. They’re brilliant at using colours, frames and concepts that are over the top yet brand-friendly. And they know how to strike a really good balance between art and commerce.

BBDO India – Probably the most talked about and creative ad from this large agency is the ad for Aviva Child Plan featuring Sachin Tendulkar, where he meets his younger self. They kicked it off with some great background music and a realistic-looking younger version of the master blaster Sachin. Another great work from this agency is Ariel’s “Share the Load” campaign. The quality of their work on this campaign was also augmented by some masterful PR around it.

Breathless Films – Breathless focuses more on the cinematic and storytelling side of things, driving home the fact that an interesting story produces that “aha moment” which makes you want to love the brand that you see on television or on the internet. Most things go viral on their own, but some are doctored and worked on painstakingly for months together to create something impactful. Breathless has worked on some of these campaigns. Remember the Madhuri Dixit ad with Vogue empowerment and the memorable Nescafe RJ Jaago spot? These are some of the Breathless Films’ maserpieces.

Enormous brands – These are the guys that recently bagged Nearbuy’s business through Facebook Live. That they are a super-innovative team with some great ideas, eventually won over the CEO after he reviewed over 90 brands through their pitches. They’ve done some interesting work in the space and it is evident why they won the much-publicised “battle” covered widely across media outlets