In the world of advertising, many forget that the nucleus of any campaign is its idea. A campaign could be bigger, brighter and better, but if it does not grab your attention, it is because the idea itself was not special to start with. With many big name campaigns not seeing desired results with their advertising, the notion of an ‘idea’ is being reexamined. And who better to do the job than those who work at an idea factory. Happy Creative Services (Happy) is not just another run of the mill advertising agency – their claim to being an idea factory is well supported by their portfolio.
A hopeful start
Happy is the brainchild of Kartik Iyer and Praveen Das, both veterans in the advertising world. With more than 25 years of advertising experience between them, they decided to branch out on their own. They had the know-how and a strategy. All they needed was a computer. So, in the year 2007, began Happy with an investment of a mere fifty thousand rupees.
The concept was simple; they would focus on selling the idea. As Iyer, now one of Happy’s directors puts it “We knew the traditional thinking having worked with big budgets and being exposed to the best. We were trying to create a boutique idea shop, wanting to do something different.” Armed with great ideas, they landed their first client, Lee, in 2007. Since its first break, Happy has not looked back.
India is still a market where traditional advertising thrives. The mother-daughter connection, the family drama, the macho man and the occasional advertisement that holds sex appeal are staple. Doing something different would grab people’s attention, but, it might not have been enough to generate profits for Happy. Iyer says that what they truly wanted to achieve was to come up with big ideas. And with their first client Lee, Happy took branding to another level. They put together a film that generated much debate and eventually won them a Silver at the 2008 Goafest. Their packaging idea for Lee’s Skinny jeans was a winner as well, for its sheer simplicity. Iyer and Das acknowledge that landing Lee was big. It set the tone for things to come.
David vs. the Goliaths
With more success on its way, Happy had to expand. And the challenge lay in putting together a team. Today, Happy has an 18 member team, one that is a creative powerhouse. Both Iyer and Das acknowledge that having the right team, makes the true difference. Here, talent runs deep and with certain special in-house capabilities like illustration and photography, Happy is now a complete unit capable of giving the best a run for their money. However, the giants of the advertising world still rule the roost with their sheer capacity and national presence. So, Happy chose to play to their strengths and operate in a niche space as an idea factory. With being niche comes a challenge. Iyer does admit that clients are still getting used to paying just for the idea. But as Das puts it, “We want to provide great work. And our philosophy is that a commercial or any element must appeal to everyone. You don’t have to be able to afford it to admire it.” At the heart of the idea is the creative process. It is Happy’s objective to come up with not just a creative, but, a creative solution that addresses their client’s needs.
We knew the traditional thinking having worked with big budgets and being exposed to the best. We were trying to create a boutique idea shop, wanting to do something different.
As a niche player, Happy has tasted success. In the last three years, they re-launched Basics, have been the brains behind the latest Incredible India television commercial and Radio One’s Chamrajpet Charles, and now have Diesel’s India account. Other than this, Happy has thrived in the area of creating brand identities and using social media to promote its clients. With Basics, they even created a line of products – the Chennai Matter t shirts that became rather popular.
With all this success, Happy is not without limitations, self-imposed or otherwise. Das and Iyer acknowledge that they have had to turn down a substantial amount of work, as much as 80 per cent. Sometimes, it is because they are not a full service agency but more often it is because they truly believe that they are here to do special things. Thus, in terms of revenue, they are not quite there yet. But, they are receiving the recognition they deserve in terms of awards. With Das and Iyer keen on investing big in their idea, it will not be long before the world takes notice.