THE STAR

A higher level of storytelling

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In harmony: In the spirit of Muhibbah and celebrating its third year of operations, the Entropia team is in a jubilant mood. On the left is the agency’s senior partner Prashant Kumar.

PETALING JAYA: Local agency Entropia, which was formed three years ago, not only believes in the power of storytelling but in the other four main pillars as its core for creativity.

While agencies incorporate storytelling in their creative work, this relatively “young” agency is taking a step further to boost creativity to a higher level.

Industry stalwart and Entropia senior partner Prashant Kumar, in a recent interview with StarBiz, said that “we believe in a four-dimensional view of creativity – create, code, count and make. The power of storytelling has been the greatest organising and mobilising power for humanity since millennia.

“So that’s not going to change. However, the way the story is seeded, propagated, amplified and shaped is a lot more fluid and futuristic now.”

Advertising plays an important role in building brands, he said, adding that judging from some of the greatest brands today, user experience (UX) is a central part of brand building.

Prashant said content can play a powerful role in building trust. And connected things are the promising new tool in that arsenal, he said where people are happy to share their personal data in exchange for tangible new value – which could be personalised pricing or customised product and so on.

He noted that there is a lot of talk in the agency about IBX – Integrated Brand Experience.

Elaborating on this he said: “The truth is every way a company touches the people, it says something about the company.

“And each time people interact with the company, they leave valuable footprints which are opportunities for new value creation for businesses. Machine learning and AI are increasingly creating magic in these areas. “

As creativity is highly subjective, how does Entropia benchmarks the agency’s creativity against the rest of the market?

According to Prashant, overall, it looks at a few markers. The most important of them is brand tracks and clients’ business indicators.

“If the campaign seems to move the needle, that is the ultimate validation for what we do.

“Towards this we have internal marketing effectiveness auditors, who work with the client directly to arrive at what worked and what didn’t.

“However, this picture is not always crystal clear due to other intervening factors. So awards play a role there in assessing the quality of creativity we are delivering. I am very blessed to be able to say that this year we have had a dominant presence in four major award shows.

“In Malaysia, we were the most awarded at Advertising & Marketing Magazine’s Marketing Effectiveness Awards (winning Creative Agency of the Year and Media Agency of the year) among others. Also, we were the most awarded at Marketing Excellence Awards. It’s important to note that both these hotly contested awards are judged by a jury that’s one hundred percent marketers, which ensures neutrality, ” he said.

Outlook

But this is not all, the agency also became the most awarded at both Mumbrella Asia Awards (winning among others, Asia-Pacific (APAC) Media Agency of the year) and Drum digital APAC awards this year competing against agencies across the region and becoming the face of Malaysian creative excellence there.

As to where does Entropia sees itself heading in the coming years, Prashant said apart from its Manila office, the agency also recently acquired a company in Singapore, noting that geographical expansion would be one key direction.

“In the last two years, we have launched specialist services in three IR 4.0 areas – Big data/AI, Internet of things etc. So next year we hope to scale those up while making them deliver new brand value.

“Given how new these areas are, we are constantly humbled by how much we don’t know, and how much there is to do out there, ” he added. On the agency’s culture and how does this fit into in delivering creativity of the future? Towards this end, he said Entropia is managed by culture, which he describes as as one of the main thrusts of the agency.

He said this does not involve any sort of hierarchies and silos, or any rigid structures and assembly lines.

“Politics and agendas are non-existent. We are highly transparent and brutally open. We take mentorship really seriously and try bring a sense of purpose and pride to the work.

And that is why we have 100% retention rate at senior levels this year, and more than 90% among high performers.

We grew our business more than 60% this year, but our team size has almost doubled, so we can help people find balance. In the process we have also done some systematic weaning of people who didn’t fit in on culture or performance.

“It is this commitment to good people and their careers that has helped us grow from zero to more than two hundred people team today in three years, ” Prashant said.

To deliver creativity of the future, he said two crucial ingredients are needed - the freedom to be and an open ecosystem of highly diverse skills - where new ideas can be forged in a boundless collaboration.

The unchecked power of digital and social media is one of the most hotly debated topics around the world right now. What is Entropia’s stance on that?

When it comes to media choices, Prashant said we are already in a post-digital era.

Digital or analogue is less of a question now, since all analogue media have a sound digital presence today, he noted.

“Also, for years it used to be about doing more digital, but that conversation has already moved to doing more business. And as far as we are concerned it really doesn’t matter whether business effectiveness is delivered through digital means or physical means.

“It is quite clear with the success of the likes of New York Times, The Guardian and Wall Street Journal, that newspapers are here to stay.

“And if you have been in sync with the times, the curve is turning around, and it only gets better from here.

“High quality, well researched edited news will remain a critical pillar of global opinion-making, and hence that of building brands, ” Prashant explained.

Entropia recently won the BMW business and has been appointed as the the company’s media buying and planning agency.

Apart from this, its clients also include Heineken, Nespresso, Watsons, Tealive, Lazada, Bonia, FWD and RHB.

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