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Be relevant and break clutter: ITDP winner PHD’s Riya Lalchandani

In its inaugural year, DMA’s India’s Top Digital Planners recognised and awarded 31 planners from different digital agencies across the country. Riya Lalchandani, Senior Planner, Digital & Mobility Services, PHD, who is one of the winners of India’s Top Digital Planners shares her experience as a young digital planner and talks to Digital Market Asia about how she maintains a balance of work and Play. Excerpts:

Q. What do you feel are the perils of being a digital media planner?

Perils are merely figments created when faced with a problem, it’s more of a challenge, and we all love challenges! The consistency of keeping up with the digital behaviour of consumers is the true challenge. The medium gives you so much of an opportunity to learn and grow with it, only if you have the desire to understand what the audience indulges in and if you constantly keep yourself abreast with the latest news. Every brand wants a taste of digital, but very few brands are truly using the medium to its potential. The ‘digital first’ media strategy is something that many brands need to move to. Digital media planners drive this agenda with very little data backing and rely on intuition. This challenge is something that we should look to overcome first!

Q. How are you disrupting digital planning in a cluttered environment?

It’s not large budgets or big takeovers that break the clutter. To be present where the consumer is, at the right time with the right communication is the only way to get noticed, be relevant and hence, break clutter!

All my plans rely primarily on understanding the role of communication of the campaign. This forms the crux of the deployment strategy. It’s very important to understand and be a part of the communication crafting. Content is the hero, but packaging and placement of the content is what makes people identify with this hero!

Q. What is your all-time favourite campaign?

When it comes to one of my own, it would have to be, Lakme Fashion Week – the Lakme Command Centre. The whole experience and the amount it teaches you cannot be put into words. As for some other campaign would be – Cadbury Bournville – Not so sweet.

Q. What is the best piece of appreciation received from a client?

Carina Chopra, Brand Manager – Be Beautiful, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. had said, “Riya brings to the job a maturity unexpected for someone her age. She truly partners the brand and is involved in strategy as much as media planning. Her passion for doing the right thing for the brand extends to idea as much as execution and is often a sounding board on this front. She is committed and dedicated to producing results and has developed strong relationships that extend outside the professional nature of the job with the teams she works with.”

Pratik Ved, Senior Brand Manager, Lakme Skin, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. said, “Riya handles one of the most digitally active beauty brands in the country – Lakme. She exhibits a great understanding of different mediums and is always ready to analyse & optimise plans. She also keeps her eyes and ears open to what is new on the digital space. Her energy and enthusiasm are a big asset to the team.”

Q. Which are the hackathons/ industry events that you have participated in or aspire to participate in as a digital media planner?

Google BrandLab is a custom workshop experience designed to help brands think digital first. As part of the Lakme India team, we got the opportunity to be a part of the Google BrandLab at Google’s state of the art facilities in San Francisco, after winning the Digital Experimentation Fund (an internal Hindustan Unilever competition, whose objective is to push the boundaries on the digital frontier).

Q. Which is a dream brand that you would like to work on?

There are a lot of major brands for whom I’d love to be an integral part of but the one I’d really want my name to be associated with would be Nike. More than anything else it really holds the values which every brand dreams of acquiring over time. Today, in my eyes, it holds a prime position in the consumers’ minds and it would be more of a challenge for me to hold up the brand to that level and further its success. As I believe it’s easy to reach the top but the difficulty lies in holding the top position overtime.

Q. What is your favourite place to unwind after work?

After work I love to just hang out with friends and have a nice glass of wine. Not at any of those noisy lounge bars where we can’t hear each other and leave with our vocal cords stretched out of proportions. Rather, gathering at my home or a friends place is just perfect. Silly conversations about how the world would end which suddenly move to serious conversations about the country and its current political scenario or even about the solar system the universe or black holes. Gathering knowledge about various topics and debating about current world affairs is all great. If friends are not at hand, I’d love to lay back read a book or watch a movie. There is so much to do in life and sitting around and doing nothing just doesn’t cut it.

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