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Isobar turns ten

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As Isobar turns 10 this August, the Pitch team got in touch with Shamsuddin Jasani- Group MD Isobar – South Asia to talk about the journey of Isobar and how the Indian market reacted to digitization over the years

Tell us about the journey of Isobar so far

SJ– 26 August 2008 was when we started Isobar in India. We ended 2008 with two people and 6 clients and as we speak today we have got about 700 people in the Isobar India group. The go to market strategy for Isobar since day one has been a full-service digital agency. We always went to market from day one to all our clients because we felt that unlike in traditional media, we really cannot differentiate between creative and media.It’s ideal to have the same team/ agency doing both media and creative and that was a clear gap, which clients wanted addressed. The first four years was just about laying the foundation and making sure that we have the best media and the best creative product out there. We made sure that we had enough work and great clients for example Reebok, which has been our client since day one and is still our client. We have won a lot of awards including the Clio this year.

What are the key changes observed in the Indian market over the last ten years?

SJ– Back in 2008, banner advertising and search marketing were the two big things. The biggest shakeup of our industry has been in 2016 with the launch of Jio, as it has driven a tremendous amount of video consumption and digital segment has commanded a lot more money of the overall market. People are spending disproportionate amount of time on the digital medium, especially driven by mobile phones. To sum up, in 2008 it was about people experimenting with digital marketing and in 2018, it’s more about how digital marketing is the key to everything that a client is doing.

How do you effectively communicate with the audience in tier I, II and III cities?

SJ– Jio has completely changed the way consumption is happening in smaller towns and cities. Consumption of content is bigger than before. Now, with video being the primary medium through which you are reaching out to the people, the language barrier is being broken. There has been a huge explosion of consumption in vernacular content due to digitization and this is the key reason that will drive digital forward. As a marketer, everyone is betting big on local content.

How do you ensure that the right message gets across on the digital platform?

SJ– Brand safety is a big concern today, whether your brand is coming out in the right environment. Marketers are looking for a safer environment to promote their content, for instance content driven on hotstar is under your control and therefore has less chances of manipulation when compared to that on Youtube since the latter is open to accepting content from a large number of people. We at Isobar are always working on behalf of our clients to make sure that the client’s message is appearing in a brand safe environment. We are also voicing concerns regarding data privacy, which is putting a big question mark in the industry and working together to tackle the problem. Increasingly, a lot more clients are looking for their own platforms and making their own omni channel digital experiences to make the consumer experience more effective.

Which has been your favourite campaign so far?

SJ– Because it’s new and because it has won us multiple awards, the Reebok #Bruisescanbegood has to be my favorite. It has put us on the global map through its reach.

What are your future prospects?

SJ– We want to be the agency for the digital age. We want the brands to be able to leverage digital not just for marketing but for their entire business, and how digital can be core to their businesses thereby bringing about a transformation. We want to use the understanding, the leadership that we have gained on the digital medium so far and help clients in making digital intrinsic to their business. For example, we want to be able to help brands establish themselves like the Dollar shave club, a brand that built itself entirely on digital which completely changed the way a person actually buys razors. We have also launched Isobar commerce considering the e commerce industry is much stronger than the advertising industry, which is again something that can help us create a lot of value for our client.


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