Q&A: Mehul Gupta – ‘Consumers Highly Appreciate a Curated Digital Experience’

We recently caught up with  Mehul Gupta, Co-Founder & CEO of SoCheers, a Mumbai-based agency that launched nine years ago as a social media offering before growing into a full-service, digital-first agency with over 140 staff on its roster.

Over the course of our conversation, Gupta talks about his ambitious plan for 75% growth this year, trends for increasing engagement with Indian consumers, lessons he learned during lockdowns, some creative work he’s most proud of, and more.


What’s been keeping you busy lately?

Lately, I’ve been exceedingly focusing on putting SoCheers on the world map in a more concrete way. Our work is just starting to get attention across the globe, having won some of the most prestigious awards recently, like The Webby Awards 2022, Spikes Asia 2022, and Campaign Agency of the Year 2021, among others. And I want to use this time to build our credibility by showcasing some of the clutter-breaking work we’ve been able to create. Other than that, I’m busy building a bigger team, training them, and aligning them to SoCheers’ growth goals, so that we can all achieve them together.

 
 

On a more personal front, I’ve recently been promoted to being a father and my daughter is keeping me pretty busy, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

SoCheers started out as a small social media agency and has now grown into a full-service digital agency. Can you talk about this journey?

SoCheers was started with the core philosophy of producing clutter-breaking campaigns which aim to make a significant impact, and having fun while doing it. Over the course of 9 years, from a small social media agency to a multi-offering digital agency, this has never wavered. But we have grown, and how! I still remember when we were just two people working with our first two clients and now we are an ever-growing team of over 140 people servicing an equally fast-growing client roster of more than 100 brands.

There was obviously a fair share of memorable milestones along the way. Onboarding our first international client was one; expanding our capabilities with dedicated verticals, like Digital Intelligence & Analytics (DIA) division and SoCheers Films, was a big one; and completing 9 years last month and strongly stepping into our 10th, was definitely one to celebrate.

 
 

Moreover, having successfully maintained SoCheers’ independent status is sort of like an extended milestone, especially in a market where surviving and getting opportunities to service global brands as an independent agency are rare.

In an interview late last year you said you are expecting growth of 75% this year. That’s an impressive goal. Tell us more about that.

We’re still expecting a 75% growth when we tabulate the numbers six months down the line, for the September-October time period. My faith in this number is further strengthened by the recent 65% growth we charted in the FY 2021-22 (March-April).

My confidence stems from the exemplary projects that we’ve carried out lately, like The Family Man Job Hunt (Amazon Prime Video), Mirzapur Purvanchal Ke Samachar (Amazon Prime Video), Venom #ChocolatesMissing (Sony Pictures Entertainment India), Nickelodeon #YogaSeHiHoga (Viacom18 Pvt. Ltd.), BreastFeeding Week (MeeMee), and the lineup of projects that we have for the year.

The visibly progressive trajectory of our revenue numbers over the last several years also speaks in agreement with this growth prediction.

What are some trends that marketers in India should embrace in 2022 in terms of increasing engagement?

We can well expect marketing to become increasingly personalized because consumers highly appreciate a curated digital experience. Conversational marketing is one of the critical means to do this and with their quirky, and at times, highly topical content and notifications, brands like Zomato, Swiggy, and Myntra are already on their way to mastering this art. Taking into account the digital journeys of consumers, brands will be looking to customize their messaging for a very small and specific target audience, maybe even individuals, to build a stronger rapport and establish long-term loyalty.

“We can well expect marketing to become increasingly personalized because consumers highly appreciate a curated digital experience.”

Influencer marketing has been witnessing a gradual rise and it will continue to be an essential part of a brand’s strategies aimed at engaging their audiences and attracting newer ones. Short-form video platforms will have a significant role to play here. Moreover, going ahead, we can expect to see brands collaborating with influencers on a larger scale, along the lines of year-long partnerships and commercial collaborations. I’d, however, like to see such campaigns delivering the brand message in an innovative execution rather than the status quo.

Then there is of course the meteoric rise of all things digital, virtual, and, especially, the metaverse! We’ve already seen quite a few creative executions centered around the metaverse, but the months to come and further developments in the technology will push the capabilities of this concept tremendously. And we’ll see it being employed to innovatively engage the huge digital audience.

Can you share some lessons you learned during the pandemic that you will carry with you once the world is “normal” again?

Situations like a global pandemic are, quite literally, once-in-a-lifetime occurrences, so there’s not much chance that we’ll need to be prepared for the exact same circumstance ever again. But we can take away the lesson of preparedness in general. Even though we tackled the pandemic-induced obstacles quite decently, I’d want to strengthen the base of our crisis management systems, so that it is ready to deal with anything that’d be thrown at us.

What are some campaigns you’ve worked on that you are most proud of? (share links)

I’ve continuously been proud of the team at SoCheers for understanding and picking up unique insights into the pulse of the Indian audience, and then fashioning a skilled communication around it. Their skill is best shown in these campaigns

The Family Man Job Hunt for Amazon Prime Video India 

Mirzapur Purvanchal Ke Samachar for Amazon Prime Video India

Right Time To Buy Furniture for Godrej Interio

Har Pyas Ka Naya Rang Hai Blue (Enerzal Blitz is the solution to every thirst) for Enerzal Blitz

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