Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other — both personally as well as professionally. The field of advertising, in particular, has undergone a sea change. A prominent advertising firm, Chennai-based Rage Communications has witnessed and adapted to this change over the last three decades.
“Our original vision for the company was, and remains, being able to deliver robust digital solutions for marketing and marketing communications. These have evolved in terms of nuances, taking into account the evolving digital environment across the spectrum of opportunities that have happened over the last two decades,” explain founders Karthik Kumar and JRK Rao in a conversation with YSWeekender.
The genesis of the brand
Karthik has over 40 years of professional experience in India’s marketplace as it evolved to a free-wheeling capitalist economy. He began his journey with some of the best marketing services in India, including IMRB (now Kantar), before he co-founded MARG (now Nielsen). He has worked extensively with clients in many multi-national businesses across multiple product categories.
He believes it is the combination of his early grounding in analytics and his experience in advertising that have aided him in providing stellar advice to his clients on digital strategies that work.
JRK started his career with Rediffusion Advertising and moved into management consultancy in the early nineties before founding Rage Communications, where he is currently the Managing Director.
An engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and having an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), JRK has over 40 years of experience in advertising, marketing, projects and digital technology.
“We initially started in 1996 as a web design company and were among the first companies providing this service in India. Over time, we went from being a design company to a solutions company in digital marketing, with marketing strategy and technology execution being the key pillars of the company’s offering. The core of the business remains this even today. However, the company has kept pace and evolved as digital channels have metamorphosed across a large range of technologies – including devices, programming frameworks, platforms, networks, etc. We offer a wider range of services as a necessary technology adjunct (such as vulnerability assessment, network management, etc.) and as core solution providers (such as for the purpose of ecommerce search advertising, marketing, and sales platforms, etc),” says Karthik.
Though the head office is in Chennai, they have offices in Melbourne, Mumbai, Singapore, and Sydney as well. Through their partner ADK, they also have offices across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the US.
Having experience in several fields, the team at Rage Communications has done interesting work over the years.
JRK highlights the recent campaign for Tata Motors which side-stepped conventional media in building engagement with their important stakeholders – truck drivers – by using a medium they identified with, which is WhatsApp.
“Using WhatsApp and the digital ecosystem of the web and social media, we ran a campaign called ‘Photo OK Please’ to build engagement with truck drivers. The programme saw active participation of over 50,000 truck drivers and was amplified to over four million citizens in India,” he shares.
Another campaign in Sydney enabled people to customise their Magnum ice-creams with their choice of flavours and toppings through a mobile web app before they reached the outlet. The promotion ensured that users did not face any disappointment later, while also saving time and cutting down on waste.
The team has been creating ecommerce platforms. Their services in this sector involve both store development and digital marketing.
Over the years, they have developed bespoke ecommerce stores as well as those built on other platforms like Drupal Commerce, Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. They don’t just build a storefront, but also work to incorporate backend activities like tax computation, forex conversions, shipment tracking, marketing dashboards, etc.
They have created ecommerce platforms for a wide range of product categories including fashion, bed and bath linen, apparel, gaming, foods, and others.
Challenges and growth
“Re-skilling and upskilling have been our biggest challenges. As the digiverse evolves, new technologies and paradigms keep emerging. Thus, yesterday’s expertise is no longer relevant today and people in the creative, strategy and technology spheres have to evolve too or be left behind,” explains Karthik.
Their resolution to evolve and dedication seems to have paid off, as is evident from the fact that they began with an initial investment of Rs 3 lakh and have grown significantly. Over the years, the profits of the company have been continuously reinvested in the business, and the current capital employed in the business is over Rs 12 crore.
The digital advertising industry across India had a market size of around Rs 199 billion in FY2020 – up from Rs 47 billion in FY2015. This is projected to go up to around Rs 539 billion by financial year 2024, indicating a big growth in the industry segment, according to data published on statista.com. Established players like Rage Communications have got the biggest piece of the pie.
“Our competition ranges from network agencies and big technology companies to boutique agencies and the neighbourhood DTP shop, not forgetting the odd ‘pre-teen old computing prodigy’ in the family who can build websites and develop apps. Yet very few of the above have a complete view of the application from a business standpoint and fail to generate successful outcomes for businesses,” shares JRK.
The founders highlight three significant differences between them and other players in the field. Unlike others in the industry, they provide complete solutions to their clients, rather than just providing manpower for coding or delivering a project. This has allowed them to have a deep understanding of their clients’ preferences, resulting in quicker execution time and speed. For clients operating across countries, this is a bonus as standards are maintained consistently across markets. Further, since they have worked with certain clients for long periods of time, their institutional knowledge provides comfort even as the brands undergo staff transitions internally.
“In addition to providing robust solutions, we believe these are the reasons that clients like AMP, Citibank, JLL, MasterCard, Sterling Holidays, Tata Motors, Unilever, and others, choose to work with us consistently,” share the founders.