Independent ad firm Scarecrow makes it to thenetworkone list3 min read . Updated: 04 May 2015, 02:01 AM IST
Scarecrow is the only Indian agency to earn a place on this list this year
It’s been a year of big wins for Scarecrow Communications Ltd, an independent full-service advertising agency in Mumbai.
After picking up a total of 13 metals (including one gold, four silver and eight bronze) at the recently concluded Goafest, an annual advertising, marketing and media festival, and rounding off with the fourth highest tally among agencies, along with Publicis (which also won 13 metals), Scarecrow now has received mention among the top 16 leading independent agencies globally in a list compiled by thenetworkone, one of the world’s largest networks of independent agencies across disciplines.
The listing is invitation-based and Scarecrow was asked to join the exclusive list published by the UK advertising magazine Campaign. This makes it the only Indian agency to earn a place on this list this year. Thenetworkone works with nearly 800 agencies in 106 countries, enabling them to connect and work with firms in the network.
While Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat came from a creative background, Arunava Sengupta specialized in account management.
The three of them worked together in Contract Advertising.
Along with the three, Vivek Suchanti, chairman and managing director of advertising agency Concept, also invested in Scarecrow and the four promoters now have an equity partnership in the agency. Concept Group has interests in media, digital, out-of-home and public relations.
Scarecrow’s recent stellar performance reminds Manish Bhatt of the company’s humble beginnings. The industry was hit by recession just before they started. “It was a tough time," he recalls. But the founders were careful about not wanting to compromise on their work philosophy, which was to create advertising that has lasting shelf life.
The name Scarecrow was selected as it was a disruptive term but had a positive connotation. “We disliked the term creative boutique, which in some ways symbolized a half-service model. We had always set out to be a full-service agency," said Manish Bhatt.
Word of mouth helped as well and the agency soon found itself building up a steady client roster.
Bhatt pointed out that till date, they’ve witnessed fairly high conversion rates with their pitches -- almost 50%, leading to final campaigns. “We’ve also preferred following the retainer model instead of working on a project basis with clients, even though the latter is a more profitable proposition," said Bhatt.
“Things fell into place by both default and design," he added, saying multi-brand clients would often stick with them, adding more account wins. The agency broke even within first six-seven months of setting up.
Five years later, it’s a different story as Scarecrow Communications sits among some of the top independent agencies globally, according to the list by thenetworkone.
According to Paul Squirrell, director of thenetworkone, “The selection of agencies included in the list is made by a joint committee of thenetworkone." Some of the criteria for agencies include being independent and being recognized for producing great work, he said. “More importantly, also those which demonstrate a strong sense of independence and a love for what they do and how they do it," he said.
It’s this passion perhaps that has led Scarecrow to where it is today.
Currently, the agency has offices in Delhi and Mumbai and nearly 35-40 clients on its roster, and has worked with brands including Quikr.com, Panasonic Corp., Wagh Bakri, Nestle India, Emami Ltd, Zee Group and Housing.com, among others. Employee strength has grown to 70 across offices.
To be sure, offers to buy out Scarecrow are actively coming in, but Bhatt points out they aren’t interested cashing out just for the sake of it. “We aren’t ruling out the possibility, however, any offer should be lucrative for brand Scarecrow and should make sense for the organization as a whole," he said.
“When we first set up Scarecrow, the idea was to build a brand that would last through the years," he added.