M&C Saatchi's Anish Daryani on talent and creativity as agency turns 1

One year into its operations, the team at M&C Saatchi is showing its creative power by growing strength to strength. With 23 members of staff on board, Anish Daryani, founding partner and president director of M&C Saatchi Indonesia tells Marketing Interactive what his plans are for the second year running.

While the agency is keen on focusing on building the business it already has, it would also like to push for growth in categories such as travel and tourism which the M&C Saatchi global team is known for excels at globally.

“Farming and nurturing our client pool is key to maintaining future growth,” he said. Moreover the agency’s growth will also be compounded as its specialist agencies such as M&C Saatchi Performance (performance marketing), LIDA (CRM and big data analytics), M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment and M&C Saatchi PR have started spreading their wings beyond our current clientele.

Marketing Interactive: What has been your biggest achievement over the past year?

When we started, it was just three of us with my partners Dami and Elki, and I. We’ve now grown to a team of 23, each team member hand-picked by the three of us. We built this enthusiastic team, and now this team is building us. It helped us graduate from being a startup to a business. It also made us one of the fastest growing agency in Indonesia. We’ve once again made our “people” the focus of our business, something the industry has forgotten over time. Building this team is what we’re most proud of. We are also proud of our envious roster of clients.

Marketing Interactive: Which are some of the big clients you have brought on board over the course of the year?

Otsuka was special, as our first client. We won two beverage brands from the company in a pitch – Ion Water by Pocari Sweat and Oronamin C.  Then we did a project for Merisant, the scope of which grew from local, to regional and then global!

Tempo Scan Group is currently as our largest client, with its corporate business and 10 brands across consumer care and healthcare. Then followed Adaro Energy and KTM Motorcycles. We also won an international business, Lodha Luxury, a luxury real estate brand based in India with a global audience appealing to affluent consumers worldwide.

Marketing Interactive:  What are some of the learning lessons over this one year?

Indonesia is a talent-starved market. Business is easy to get, but talent isn’t. Especially for an agency which is picky and selective us when it comes to choosing who we want to work with. So the need to develop the talent pool is both urgent and important. And we’re taking a bunch of innovative measures to do this so it benefits us, as well as the industry.

Marketing Interactive: Could you tell us about your team count right now?

In numbers, we are 23. But [in spirit] we’re equal to 300 of the Indonesian advertising industry. We’ve given some bigger competitors sleepless nights by winning against them. We are happy our competition takes us as seriously as much as we respect them.

Marketing Interactive: When you first launched, what did you set out to attain, and have you gotten there yet?

We set out to challenge the industry. We saw how complicated brand building was quickly becoming for marketers. Hence, we wanted to bring back simplicity to brand building, online, offline and everything in between.

“Brutal Simplicity of Thought” is our core principle, and it has come as a breath of fresh air for clients. They can see the benefits of working towards solving business problems, versus creating advertising campaigns. And that’s what’s also led to our incredulous growth. We haven’t accomplished that goal yet, but we’ve taken giant strides, and we know we’re going somewhere with it.

Marketing Interactive: What’s your hope for the creative industry?

First, we need to tackle the issue of talent! Our industry is all about people. And an agency is only good as its people. So developing the talent pool is one way to evolve the creative industry. As a collective, the industry has failed to do this sustainably. We’re taking it upon ourselves [to groom the talent in the agency].

Second, would be to build our creative reputation as a country is another objective. We were appalled at how poor Indonesia’s performance is at the global advertising arena and at creative and effectiveness awards. We’d like to change that and bring more fame to the country.

Lastly, we’d like to lead the change in the industry narrative – from being a difficult business where agencies are either shutting or being forced to consolidate – to an exciting business with tremendous growth opportunities.