Technology Featured South Asia

OTTera names director of business development for India

Los Angeles – OTTera, global white label OTT service, has announced the appointment of its director of business development for India operations, seasoned media and communications Sumit Rastogi

The appointment comes at a time when on-demand and live stream videos are at their peak demand with audiences looking for digital channels of entertainment in the middle of lockdowns. 

Headquartered in Los Angeles, OTTera provides an all-in-one platform for content developers with solutions for cross-platform development, distribution, and monetization. It allows companies to launch highly customized OTT services at speed, one that would normally take several years and a massive investment to build. According to the company, it currently manages over 70 linear channels and more than 50 OTT services globally.

Stephen Hodge, co-CEO and chairman of OTTera, said that the appointment of Rastogi, who has built a broad leadership and network within the country, will help the company accelerate its growth and tap the many opportunities in the Indian sub-continent.

Rastogi boasts of over 18 years of experience in the area of media sales, content acquisition, and content syndication, and most importantly, in partnerships and affiliate business. Prior to joining OTTera, he was general manager at U2opia Mobile and has also worked for Times of India, Locovida Digital Solutions, and 9.9 Media & Dainik Jagran.

For his new role, Rastogi is charged to grow OTTera’s client base and operations in India. He will be exploring business opportunities from Indian content creators to showcase their content diaspora on leading connected TV and OTT channels and platforms globally.

Rastogi commented that the OTT viewership in India is at an all-time high now and has become the primary mode of entertainment for consumers across Tier II and III cities.

“Regional content, gaming sports, fitness, education will be key drivers in India’s OTT growth and I realize that I have a big opportunity to introduce OTTera services to all the OTT players [and] linear channels and content creators in India. I’m thrilled about working with the talented & experienced OTTera team,” he said. 

Marketing Featured South Asia

India’s real estate firm Gulshan Group appoints iCubesWire as digital creative partner

India – Real estate company Gulshan Group in India has appointed digital marketing agency iCubesWire to be its digital creative partner.

Gulshan Group is an established real estate organization with vast business networks in the country. It has a presence in the infrastructure development, construction, and housing segment, as well as other business operations. 

As per the mandate, iCubesWire will be handling the digital creative duties of Gulshan’s residential and commercial projects, including Gulshan Dynasty and Gulshan one29, among others. The marketing agency will also be heading the brand’s communication and strategy across digital and offline media channels. 

Gulshan Group’s Vice President of Marketing Suneet Singh shared that iCubesWire owes its win to their expertise in marketing, especially for the real estate market.

“We at Gulshan Group believe building a better world takes time and years of experience. And since iCubesWire shares the same ideology and brings the perfect mix of creativity and strategy, we are glad to have them on board as the brand’s creative agency,” said Singh.

Meanwhile, Sahil Chopra, the CEO and founder of iCubesWire, commented that they are honored to be chosen as the creative agency for the Gulshan Group. 

“We hope to scale new heights for the brand through our innovative solutions and expertise in marketing. We are looking forward to growing the brand’s business exponentially,” said Chopra.

iCubesWire is a digital marketing agency in the country that offers 360° concepts to various clients across e-commerce, automobile, technology, and finance, as well as travel, and hospitality, among others.

Marketing Featured South Asia

Maserati India awards PR, digital duties to Alphabet Media

India – Global luxury vehicles company Maserati in India has awarded its public relations and digital mandate to communications agency Alphabet Media.

Maserati is an Italian manufacturer of luxury automobiles including a tradition of successful cars, namely the Quattroporte flagship, the Ghibli sports sedan, and the Levante.

As per the mandate, Alphabet Media will be responsible for Maserati’s strategic planning, media relations, digital campaigns, and providing integrated communication solutions in the country.

Bojan Jankulovski, the head of operations at Maserati India, shared that the brand is driven to challenge the status quo being innovative by nature, powered by passion, and unique by design.

“The partnership with Alphabet Media is the embodiment of all these values. We are pleased to onboard the agency as our communications partner in India and we look forward to a great working relationship with the team,” said Jankulovski.

Meanwhile, Alphabet Media’s Founder Tejal Daftary commented that they are delighted to get the opportunity to work for an iconic brand like Maserati in India. 

“We are committed to delivering Maserati customer experience through well-planned communications to further strengthen the brand’s presence in the country,” said Daftary.

Alphabet Media is a public relations and communications agency that provides strategic and integrated solutions. It also offers services across public relations, marketing communications, and digital communications.

Marketing Featured South Asia

VMLY&R India names new chief creative officer

Mumbai, India – Global brand and customer experience agency VMLY&R in India has appointed Mukund Olety, former group creative director at advertising company BBDO Worldwide, to be its new chief creative officer. 

Olety brings with him two decades of career experience across India, China, and Southeast Asia. Aside from his previous role at BBDO, Olety has partnered with advertising agency Ogilvy in Beijing to create digital and integrated campaigns for Nestle and Audi. He has also had stints with various creative agencies such as Leo Burnett Malaysia, O&M India, JWT, and DDB Mudra, where he worked with brands such as Mercedes, McDonald’s, and Samsung, as well as Durex, and Unilever, among others.

In addition, Olety has also served on jury panels and partnered with One Club, a nonprofit organization that seeks to inspire, encourage, and develop creative excellence in advertising and design, to mentor young creatives.

In his new role, Olety will be a part of VMLY&R India’s senior leadership council. He will be instrumental in developing and boosting the creative capabilities in India in tandem with VMLY&R’s positioning of creating connected brands that add value for clients by harnessing creativity, technology, and culture. His mandate will also include driving the agency’s creative vision and nurturing its creative talent.

Commenting on his appointment, Olety said that VMLY&R has this potent mix of creativity, technology, culture, and commerce, and the ambition that they have for the India office astounded him. 

“With industry legends like Tripti, Valerie, and Anil at the helm, there is not a better group of people I want to take this ride with. I am looking forward to creating connected, future-facing and awesome work for our key clients and brands,” said Olety.

Meanwhile, Anil Nair, the CEO at VMLY&R India, commented that he could not have thought of a better person to lead their creative team in these thought-provoking times. 

“Mukund has extensive experience working on both local and global brands and working at both Indian and international levels. This grasp of both, coupled with his passion for creativity, makes him an outstanding addition to the VMLY&R family,” said Nair.

Just recently, VMLY&R India also announced the appointment of Payal Vaidya as its new executive vice president of experience design. She will be leading the customer experience design vertical, and will be responsible for evangelizing design thinking and customer-first experiences within the agency and with clients.

Platforms Featured APAC

HBO Max names latest MD to take helm of SEA, India market

Singapore – As the company aims to expand its streaming services across new markets in Asia, subscription video on demand (VOD) streaming service HBO Max has announced the appointment of Amit Malhotra as HBO Max’s managing director for Southeast Asia and India.

He will immediately assume responsibility for the management of HBO GO, WarnerMedia’s existing OTT streaming service available in eight territories across Southeast Asia. In the future, he will spearhead the introduction of HBO Max in these territories and will lead WarnerMedia’s exploration of future opportunities to launch the streaming platform in additional markets, as well as a potential future launch in India.

Under Malhotra’s leadership, WarnerMedia expects to launch HBO Max in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam in the future, including an expanded content offering for the entire family and a premium new platform that would be hosted on HBO Max’s tech stack, providing a more stable and consistent streaming experience than HBO GO. 

Prior to his new role, Malhotra most recently served as regional lead for Disney+ in Southeast Asia, where he was responsible for overseeing the launch and operations of Disney’s streaming services in the region, including Disney+, Disney+ Hotstar and Hotstar. He also led the content sales and distribution division as part of The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to Consumer & International (DTCI) business in South APAC and Middle East.

Speaking about his appointment, he said, “I am delighted to be part of the incredible team at WarnerMedia in Asia as we look at bringing HBO Max to this region. WarnerMedia’s brands including DC Universe, HBO and Cartoon Network are extremely popular with passionate fans and audiences across this region. With a focus on consumers our goal will be to bring all of these brands and content together in an exciting new world class streaming experience as we move into the future with HBO Max.”

He will report to Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, who commented that with their upcoming launch across Latin America on 29 June and plans for Europe in the future, they turned their sights toward Asia, where they have an incredible opportunity to bring HBO Max to millions of new fans who are just as excited about streaming as their audiences in the United States.

“Amit’s experience launching streaming services in both mature and emerging markets across Southeast Asia and the surrounding region make him the ideal leader to plan and oversee the rollout of HBO Max and its expanded content offering and platform experience,” Larcher said.

The HBO Max team in Southeast Asia will build on the partnership with Clement Schwebig, managing director for India, Southeast Asia, and Korea at WarnerMedia, and members of his team including Magdalene Ew, head of content at HBO Asia; Yasmin Zahid, head of distribution at HBO Asia, as well as Leslie Lee, head of kids for APAC at HBO, in a collaboration that’s pivotal to the success of HBO GO and HBO Max in the region.

Marketing Featured South Asia

Dentsu Webchutney’s new program to help creative moms make their comeback to the ad industry

India – Women have been geared up that to become a mom is to take a long pause, which most of the time means letting go of their current careers to make time for family. This rings true across all industries, and in the creative industry, Dentsu Webchutney, the digital-led creative agency from the dentsu network in India, is stepping up to make it easier for moms that have worked in advertising and marketing to make a smooth comeback. 

The talent development program called ‘The Ad Fellows Returnship’ is a partnership with Indian Creative Women, an independent forum that works towards furthering diversity in creative teams across the advertising and design industry in India. The program will be a 30-day back-to-work program for moms, where creative moms that have been part of the industry before will be retrained and have their skills refreshed to take on roles in different working areas of copywriting, animation, graphic design, and hybrid creative, among others. 

‘The Ad Fellows Returnship’ is a long-standing program of Dentsu Webchutney, where in 2020, it took the form of a virtual internship from home for 50 people. Meanwhile, in 2019, The Ad Fellows made advertising a career option for chartered accountants and IT professionals, and the year before that, a program called ‘Pause the Resume’ hired internet natives out of nothing but their browser history. 

For the new version, creative moms will be paired with creatives at Dentsu Webchutney and the Indian Creative Women network to equip themselves with what they need to be industry-ready again. With the fast-changing nature of marketing services in the middle of a new demand for digital, the two parties have developed a fresh syllabus along with teaching techniques for the program, with modules on confidence-building and digital creatives. 

The program itself is completely free and will begin on 1 July, 2021, with the application period to run from 1 June to 10 June 2021.

The Dentsu Webchutney team strongly believes in the power of perspectives to make ideas stronger and sees diversity in talent as a means for more diverse work. 

“The program has been chartered by a passionate woman-strong team that believes more mothers need to put their lived experiences on the table. We’ve certainly got a long way to go ourselves but we’re very proud to partner with Indian Creative Women and take this much overdue step forward,” commented the team. 

Meanwhile, the team of Indian Creative Women shared that the program has been hugely influenced by its group creative director who is a mom herself. The team said that until today, women face several systemic and structural challenges that get in the way of them growing into senior leadership roles and that the industry isn’t doing enough to retain them, specifically, mothers.

“A woman is still blamed if she quits the industry after becoming a mother. There’s simply no organizational support for her to succeed. Dentsu Webchutney’s The Ad Fellows Returnship is a small step in the right direction and should be a great example of what other agencies can follow,” they said. 

Interested moms can apply for the program through this form

Platforms Featured South Asia

This newly-launched platform eases survey creation for brands through chat integration

Mumbai, India – As more and more brands look for more ways to engage with their customer base online, creating surveys poses to be a simple yet effective way to gather information from consumers, from collecting consumer opinion for market research to real-time feedback. To make it easier, new platform player Merren offers brands a way to easily access their customers through chat-integrated automated surveys.

Merren is a global end-to-end platform for messaging-app based surveys that allows one to build fully-automated surveys for messaging apps like Whatsapp. Being a holistic messenger-based research platform, Merren enables firms to create, distribute and analyze surveys on a single platform.

Through the platform, users can create accessible surveys, deploy them through a simple shareable link, collect and store validated data online and automate analysis in five easy steps. The platform also offers clients to distribute the survey for them, as it is backed up by a global panel of 35 million potential responses, around 2.5 million of which are from India.

Sumit Saxena, co-founder at Merren notes that one of the prime reasons why they launched the platform was to serve customers who want to be heard but are reluctant to answer long surveys. He added that this results in a low response rate and no real actionable research insights. 

“This enables brands to leverage the in-built features of these apps, leading to refined and nimbler access to data. Audio questions also help overcome comprehension issues, one of the limitations of self-administered, text-heavy questionnaires,” Saxena said.

The platform also offers users a localized, multi-language solution to brands and B2B clients. Through use of apps like WhatsApp that have a vast outreach in India across socio-economic groups, gender, age groups, states, towns, and villages, Merren facilitates a better connection with the target customer. With technology paving the way for conversation, the platform sits right at the heart of humanizing the survey experience for all its stakeholders. 

For Monalisa Saxena, co-founder at Merren, consumers today would rather participate in a conversation than a survey. She added that for market research to be successful, companies need to reach the customers where they are, through a medium they are comfortable with, in a language they understand.

“Browser-based surveys run into the limitations posed by the reach and unfamiliarity of the user interface. On the other hand, frequency of usage and ease of accessibility of messenger-based apps makes surveys accessible to users across the world,” she stated.

The app was developed by boutique market research company and consulting firm Inxise Datalabs based in Mumbai, India.

Marketing Featured South Asia

Brand and experience agency VMLY&R in India names new EVP of experience design

Mumbai, India – Global brand and customer experience agency VMLY&R in India has recently appointed Payal Vaidya as its new executive vice president of experience design.

Vaidya brings with her 19 years of global experience in transforming brands and businesses through collaborative leadership and problem-solving skills across India, APAC, and the US markets. Prior to joining VMLY&R, she co-founded the management consulting firm The Thinking Hats Innovation in New York City, which focuses on launching, sustaining, and innovating with brands on their experiences, products, and services.

Furthermore, Vaidya has also worked with various marketing agencies and consultancies like Ogilvy, Grey, and Publicis. She has helped start-ups, not for profits, and Fortune 500 companies like P&G, L’Oréal, and Unilever, as well as Tata, and Lowe’s, among others.

In her new role at VMLY&R, Vaidya will be a part of the senior leadership council, leading the customer experience design vertical, and will be responsible for evangelizing design thinking and customer-first experiences within the agency and with clients.

Commenting on her appointment, Vaidya said that she is thrilled to join the agency and help transform brands and businesses to create phenomenal experiences through creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration. 

“It’s exciting to see the human-centered design approach permeate through agencies and brands alike, and I look forward to building on VMLY&R’s existing practice to allow us to truly put the customer at the center for every client,” said Vaidya.

Meanwhile, VMLY&R India’s CEO Anil Nair commented, “In our journey to becoming a complete marketing partner to our brands, we have been evolving our Customer Experience practice. For that precise reason, we are happy to have Payal on board to evangelize the importance of customer strategy and partner brands on the delivery of elevated experiences for their consumers.”

Technology Featured South Asia

Criteo appoints Httpool as official ad sales partner in India

New Delhi, India – Adtech Criteo has announced that it has partnered with cross-channel ad network Httpool to be its official ad sales partner in India.

Through Criteo’s Ad Sales Partner Program with Httpool, Criteo is further accelerating its growth in India, providing full-funnel marketing solutions aimed at driving profits and sales for retailers and brands.

The partnership comes in response as Criteo is continually evolving to be a leading commerce media platform and driving its growth through machine-learning and AI technology, data and performance at scale, and measurable ROI for brands, retailers, and agencies.

“We are pleased to announce the official Ad Sales partnership with Httpool in India and Indonesia. We look forward to extending our support further and equipping marketers in these growing markets with Criteo’s trusted and impactful advertising solutions through this partnership,” said Taranjeet Singh, managing director of SEA and India at Criteo.

The partnership is also valid for their Indonesian presence, as Httpool supports Criteo’s growth that drives business results for traditional and native advertisers to ensure they achieve their business and marketing objectives.

“We are extremely excited to be the ad sales partner for Criteo. It’s one of the very few technology platforms that can successfully build a vast network of publishers with the ability to target online shoppers based on their interests and behavior. Together, we aim to extend the platform to every advertiser by providing our best-dedicated team and ensuring we support advertisers at every stage,” Pankaj Jain, partner director for Native India and SEA at Httpool commented.

Httpool has cemented its presence in the Indian market after it partnered with in-game ad firm Bidstack last October 2020 for expansion of brands and media platform relationships internationally.

Platforms Featured South Asia

Elsevier extends COVID-19 info hub to India to combat ‘fake news’

New Delhi, India – As India continues to combat its second wave of COVID-19 infections, research publisher and information analytics company Elsevier has launched a new COVID-19 online healthcare information hub for India in order to relay the latest COVID-19 information for the greater benefit of Indian healthcare frontliners and the general public in the country to fight misinformation.

The Elsevier India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub features complimentary resources and online learning tools, as well as latest evidence-based information on the novel coronavirus, with materials on the prevention and management of COVID-19. These include approved treatments and guidelines, along with other useful tools to help doctors, nurses and healthcare workers provide patient care. 

In addition, this resource aims to meet the increasing need for standardized, credible and accurate information around the pandemic and allow healthcare professionals to provide consistent and safe patient care.

Kok Keng Lim, managing director for Asia Pacific at Elsevier believes that the publisher institution has a responsibility to provide high quality evidence-based information and tools on COVID-19 and the newly approved vaccines.

“By aligning these localized resources to global care standards, we aim to support frontline workers with credible data and patient discussion tools that can bolster their confidence to address concerns, dispel vaccine falsities and quickly make critical decisions for better patient outcomes,” Lim said.

He added, “The India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub also provides patients with a single source of accurate data to help curb the spread of misinformation on the disease.”

First introduced last year, the India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub is the local extension of the global information hub, which has received over 300,000 visits from physicians, nurses, clinicians, patients and researchers who are seeking the latest information and trustworthy resources on the pandemic.

In addition to the India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub, Elsevier is also supporting Swasth Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that promotes universal and affordable healthcare for the people of India. Together with the RELX Group, Elsevier’s parent company, the two organizations have contributed approximately 22 high-flow oxygen concentrators to support more than 12,000 critically ill patients in India.

Shankar Kaul, managing director for India at Elsevier, commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a global health crisis for over a year and our teams across the United Kingdom and Latin America have conducted extensive research around the variants of coronavirus. These global insights are now available through the India COVID-19 Healthcare Hub, providing the public and healthcare professionals with access to the latest resources to manage the new strain of the virus.”

Users can also access the latest information from the Elsevier COVID-19 Healthcare Hub by connecting with them via messaging platform Whatsapp to receive automated updates.

On a separate note, Google India has launched the Google News Showcase in the country to create local curated news for the Indian readers, especially about COVID-19 updates, and similarly to combat misinformation about COVID-19.