Arun Fernandes, CEO, Hotstuff Media Group

Arun Fernandes is a printing technologist who leveraged his design expertise to bring campaigns and events to life, working with India’s leading financial brands on National and International Campaigns for 30+ years.


While there were several memes that went on to amusingly take pot shots on the eventful year 2020, those were dark humour that actually went on to portray how the year panned into appalling uncertainty. Many of these memes have actually been used by advertisers to engage with consumers. Does this go on to signify that as dream merchants, we have always made the best use of adversity, confronted challenging situations and stood as shining examples to the society? If it were not for us, the length & breadth of India would not have connected in virtual concerts, stood in solidarity with frontline workers through our remote habitats, portrayed how complex problems could be resolved in spite of social distancing and above all made every person in the country aware of the safety measures that one needed to undertake during the pandemic.

We, as a clan, are no strangers to disruption and turmoil. We have overcome economic pressures, political tensions and even natural disasters. With the outbreak and the global spread of the pandemic resulting into a complete shut-down, mega-events, gatherings and such platforms that engage with brands and consumers, advertising agencies had to rejig their strategies and work doubly hard to make things happen in shoe-string budgets and remotely placed production equipment & operational teams. The world of advertising is heavily dependent on interpersonal, and human connects, but we are rethinking the way we are operating. Some of the trends that would not just dot 2021 but a new era, since there will be no going back in order to fortify the future of the planet in the first place. These could be listed as below:

Forging partnerships with data and tech platforms

The pandemic and the ensuing lock-downs in various phases have not just impacted the manufacturing sector & supply chain of companies but also impacted the consumer demand. Consumers have become very stringent, and most of the buying patterns are seen only in essential goods. Brands have and would in the future look at cutting down their offline budgets and invest in online, which has become essentially the market place across sectors. That apart the digital space is also a veritable consumer touchpoint for news & entertainment consumption. So a digital explosion is on the cards sooner than later.

Hyper-engagement model

Agencies would need to offer more to its clients and create Intellectual properties on the digital platforms, that would enhance the relevant consumer touchpoints. These would be engagement tools that will have to focus on creating long-term relationships with the sharply targeted audience groups instead of making ads and hard-sell. A case-in-point is “Tattva” –  a platform that is being created as a ‘centre of excellence’ for the BFSI segment audiences; IFAs and buyers simultaneously. A property like this is a boon to the myriad financial brand that is looking for a market place!

B2B2C models through e-commerce solutions

One specific surge that has been noticed and that which we will notice as a trend is the B2B2C models of businesses with a focus on e-commerce. Agencies would have to actively work with advisors and data-driven firms to create bespoke solutions for buyers. With an eye on efficiency in cost-savings, value-driven approach and gains in the short-term and sustainable growth in the mid to long-term.

Focus on the experience

Interaction and engagement on the virtual platforms would be key to everything. From brand launches to sporting events, the entire ecosystem is moving online, and consumers are going to engage with the brands from the comforts of their homes. Experiences, therefore and virtual transportation to another world would be important for advertisers. Fantasy games, virtual concerts or for that matter retailing of fashion & food would all need to give the relevant experience for the consumers to buy into that experience and thereby the product.

Although one may not be sure, whether all these innovations would figure out a way to negate the huge accumulated losses the industries faced this year but it is surely the right time for advertisers and advertising agencies to build capabilities in areas that would be primary in the new era. The agency of the future would need to be futuristic!

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