August is a communications agency led by Vivek Dhyani, Ambar Sharan Lal and myself (Manish Bhatt). It’s been around since 2006. Over the years we have serviced accounts like IFFCO Tokio, Times OOH, Pizza Hut Delivery, Barista, Spice Mobility and Conscient Group.
What made you start August Communications?
The three of us had worked together at the beginning of our careers. While Vivek and Ambar kept on working in mainstream advertising, and getting longer and longer job titles, I had started dabbling with start-ups by 2002. By 2006, Vivek and I were already old friends with a common love for Old Monk and Hindi Poetry, both of us a little jaded with regular jobs. So we decided to quit our jobs to start this creative outfit called ‘Sex Creatives’. I guess we just wanted to work at our own pace and have some fun in the process. Our first office was Vivek’s living room. Then, to our surprise, we started getting business. A few hundred bounced mails later, we changed our name to August Communications. Soon, Ambar joined us to take care of the business end.
Tell us about your Art Professionals. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up?
Most of our Art Professionals come recommended by old advertising buddies. Some of them are gravitated to us after seeing our work. And yes, most of them do have a fine art/design school background, but its incidental. We pick them on the basis of their work, mostly the unapproved kind. Also, we try to surround us with people we can fight and argue with, respect and ultimately come to like. So I guess, the selection process is skewed towards a certain personality type from the very beginning.
How would you define the design style at August?
The origin of all work at August is idea. Art and copy are merely tools. I am not aware of any particular style we follow, although our Art CD Shakoon Khosla does have a fondness for digital illustration.
What does August communications do which sets it apart?
I like to think that we as an agency have retained a bit of rookie-like-freshness. We try not to be cynical and bureaucratic. We still have loads of fun with thinking up and developing ideas. And we still love the craft of advertising fiercely.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Calvin. Also, Hobbes.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Brand Building?
Personally, I can’t think of any. Vivek swears by the late Nandu Narsimhan, and his old Capital gang (by which I mean Capital’s founders).
How important is the focus on good design in August.
Good design is an integral part of good advertising. Shakoon, Reuben and our Art team maintain very high art standards.
Do you function like a traditional advertising agency? Or would you call yourself more of a graphic design/branding agency?
I think we have grown into a traditional advertising agency over the recent few years. Earlier on, we operated more like a Graphic Design outfit.
What do you feel about the state of design in Brand Building in India?
Design, like most things in India, needs balls. More good ideas need to be out there. Having said that, there’s a lot of talent here. And I have hope for the future.
Any other Indian agencies you admire?
I like Wieden + Kennedy India’s style. I have watched digital agencies like Webchutney carve a space that didn’t exist earlier. All in all, I have a particular fondness for smaller outfits that still have a voice of their own.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option? Or Advertising and brand building?
Well, do it if you are in love with ideas, and if you want to meet interesting people, and if you have a healthy disregard for personal hygiene and formal clothing. But, learn the craft. Instinct can only bring you this far.
Who would your design team like to take out for dinner?
Me. They know I like to dine well.
What’s on the company iPod?
Our Art Director Reuben (also the bassist of Undying Inc.) is the office DJ, and you get to hear everything from Iron Maiden to Nine Inch Nails to weird Norwegian Death Metal. Vivek has a fondness for Soundtracks, the most recent being ‘Blow’ OST. I am on a staple Alice in Chains diet these days. Ambar is a classic rock, you know, Pink Floyd and Dire Straits type of guy. So, it’s fairly eclectic, I’d say.
Mac or PC?
Macs are overrated. Shakoon might disagree. So, to each his (or her) own.