Vishal Shah, Managing Partner at EssenceMediacom, is a prominent marketing professional in the media, marketing and advertising industry. With a strong background in brand building, digital marketing and media strategy, he has made significant contributions to the growth and success of various brands and campaigns. As a dedicated and innovative leader, he continues to make a lasting impact in the media landscape, driving excellence and fostering strong relationships with clients and partners.
In an exclusive interview, he shares his insights on achieving agency of the Year, building brands, and embracing the future of digital marketing.
Firstly, congratulations on EssenceMediacom winning the agency of the year at Goafest! What key factors and strategies do you attribute to this remarkable achievement, and how do you plan to build upon this success in the future?
Thank you very much. We are elated about this accomplishment. It is a remarkable achievement, and we are proud to be working with the best minds in the industry. We have received overwhelming appreciation from clients and partners, who are proud and happy to be associated with an agency that is producing such fantastic work. We aim to maintain this momentum across all our brands and build upon this success in the future.
As the Managing Partner of Essence Mediacom, you have played a significant role in the company’s growth and success. Can you share some key insights into your journey and the challenges you faced while scaling the business?
Four days after I joined, the COVID-19 pandemic peaked, and authorities announced a nationwide lockdown, abruptly shifting us to remote work. Overnight, we faced numerous challenges. Firstly, working remotely on such a large scale for an extended period was a unique and unprecedented experience, requiring everyone to quickly adapt. Meeting my entire team virtually was particularly challenging given its size. I honed my voice recognition skills as many team members experienced bandwidth issues, preventing them from enabling their cameras during virtual meetings. Additionally, a significant hurdle emerged when most clients decided to drastically cut their marketing budgets due to prevailing uncertainty.
I faced a two-fold challenge:
a)Convincing clients to maintain their investment in marketing. b) Boosting team morale and keeping spirits high.
In response, we revisited our strategies and implemented multiple changes in our work processes. These adjustments yielded exceptional results, fueling unparalleled growth in our business and teams over the past three years. We remain committed to building upon this success and sustaining our upward trajectory.
With your extensive experience, how do you approach the process of creating and nurturing a brand identity, especially in today’s highly competitive and fast-paced digital landscape?
Building brands has shifted from a mass media economy to a new-age economy, requiring a distinct approach and mindset. We closely collaborate with clients, developing breakthrough capabilities instead of simply cutting through. Our multidimensional approach generates breakthroughs for our brands, transcending traditional boundaries. A Breakthrough because it took two incredibly successful individual agencies and brought them together to create something new – Essence & Mediacom.
We created a new agency that unlocks the potential of the new communication economy, moving beyond brand vs. performance, digital vs. analogue, and media vs. creative. Clients trust and choose to work with us to advance, break new ground, and shape future brands and businesses. We are already delivering these outcomes for the world’s biggest and most influential brands, consistently and globally. EM is the only agency capable of consistently providing new ideas and opportunities to understand and connect with people. This is made possible by our scale, exceptional team, advanced technology, and strong leadership.
Storytelling is a powerful tool in brand communications. How do you perceive the power of storytelling, particularly its ability to create emotional connections with the target audience?
The very essence of storytelling lies in its ability to create an emotional connection between the brand and the consumer, thereby humanizing the brand and bringing it to life. It transforms the brand from a mere logo to a meaningful connection. Storytelling is unparalleled in building trust, and loyalty, and establishing a strong connection with consumers. In the marketing communications business, storytelling is at the heart of every connection between the brand and the consumer, making it the most definitive way to build strong brands.
Essence Mediacom prides itself on utilizing data-driven strategies. Could you provide an example of how data analysis has significantly impacted a client’s campaign, leading to tangible results?
The legacies of Essence and Mediacom, combined with the power of WPP, Group M, and Nexus, mean that we possess the most advanced suite of tech products and experts in the market.
This manifests not only in our individual products and agency tools but also in the embedded innovation teams within our agencies, which swiftly develop scripts to solve immediate problems.All of this is consolidated in EMOS: a global planning operating system that we can customize for clients and is utilized by our personnel every day. EMOS merges the finest technology from MediaCom with Essence’s automation, data governance, and data storage, resulting in the industry’s most advanced reporting tech and analytics suite applied to billions of dollars of client spend.
The combined tech of both agencies has created something truly unique: the ability to provide data-driven breakthroughs to every client through customized products and capabilities accessible to all our planners across all markets. Our tools are developed with the consumer journey in mind, spanning the marketing cycle, campaign cycle, and optimization cycle, enabling timely interventions for breakthrough planning.
Start-ups often face unique challenges when it comes to brand building and marketing. What advice do you have for start-up founders looking to establish a strong brand presence and effectively communicate their value proposition to potential investors and customers?
Strong brands are built over time through consistent actions. A strong brand is defined by what consumers think, feel, do, and how they interact with it, not by the perceptions of founders or investors. It is imperative to create a consistent brand experience that provides meaningful interactions and addresses consumers’ unmet needs. The brand needs to have differentiated benefits, appeal, and proposition and communicate this with consumers regularly. They will also need to continue building brand trust, as it is a gradual process that requires commitment. Maintaining the right balance between brand building and performance marketing is crucial, and consistent investment in both areas will help founders establish strong brands.
Mentorship can play a significant role in personal and professional growth. Can you share an experience where a mentor or role model had a profound impact on your career, and what lessons did you learn from them?
I strongly believe that mentors play a critical role in your personal and professional journey. With the right mentor, you can receive help and guidance across key areas, not only in your professional life but also in your personal life. I have been very lucky to have had some very good mentors who have shown me the way throughout my career. Here are the key lessons that I learned from my mentors:
1. Attitude and passion make all the difference; if they are in the right place, they will take you places. Where there is a will, there is a way!
2. Two key areas that matter the most are business management and people management. Most things we do will revolve around these two areas, and we need to continuously maintain a learning mindset to build on these areas.
As a thought leader in the marketing industry, what are your predictions for the future of digital marketing, and is the industry preparing to capitalize on these trends to maintain its competitive edge?
Digital marketing is poised to dominate the advertising industry. India ranks among the top 10 globally in terms of ad spend and continues to be the fastest-growing market worldwide.
1.5G will be a game changer in many ways for India.
2.Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality will become mainstream.
3.Understanding and investing in data and technology will not be optional; it will be crucial and require super acceleration if brands and marketers want to remain relevant.
5. Voice and everything related to it will have many more use cases and applications.