A Conversation With : Praful Amit and Akali, Former National Creative Director of Grey
Updated on: 29 Jun 2016
India had a great start at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, with Mumbai-based Medulla Communications bagging the Healthcare Agency of the Year in the Lions Health category – a first for the country. Praful Amit and Akali, former Grey creative chief, front men of the agency, bagged seven Pharma Lions in all: two Golds, two Silvers, and three Bronzes. Their campaign, 'Last Words', for the Indian Association of Palliative Care, hit home. They speak to Anuka Roy about their win, the healthcare advertising scenario in India and what lies ahead.
You are a young agency, having been set up in 2008, but your works have been winning awards over the years. But being 'Healthcare Agency of the Year' is a big deal. Your sentiments as you look back on your eight-year journey…
Praful Akali (PA): We feel proud to have won 'Agency of the Year' for India. We are happy to have made India proud. A B-Pharm degree followed by a PGDM from an IIM is a winning formula to lead a healthcare agency. Plus a brother who is among the top creative professionals in the country.
So what would you attribute your success to?
PA: Our success is based on our philosophy of integrating medical, creative and strategy, which is why all our communication -- whether for clients or awards -- has been appreciated. The rest has been about focusing on the advertising basics. If you look at any healthcare advertising agency, either in India or even abroad, they understand healthcare but not necessarily advertising. So the planning pieces of advertising, the basic creative and strategic processes, are not followed. An advertising agency does not necessarily get healthcare and very few have a healthcare arm. We felt that we needed an agency which got both advertising and healthcare. When Amit joined us, we used him as Chief Creative Officer to bring a basic creative strategy and philosophy on board, and also hire great creative people.
Amit Akali (AA): When I left Grey two years ago, I felt that the level of strategy and creativity in a niche industry, was not the same as in mainline agencies. In the healthcare agency that already existed six years ago, called Medulla, while the strategy (coming from Praful's background of IIM) was world-class, and their medical team was among the best in the world, where creativity was concerned Medulla had benchmarked itself against the Indian healthcare industry. We were clear that with the medical expertise already there, the creativity had to be benchmarked to the best in the world, and so we benchmarked it against Cannes. Last year was the first time we entered at Cannes, and became the No. 3 agency in the world. That is when we decide that we owe it to ourselves to now become No.
What are the challenges of being a healthcare agency as against a regular creative shop?