Q&A with VivaKi's Rishad Tobaccowala

After we announced our partnership with digital advertising agency VivaKi this week, I caught up VivaKi’s Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer Rishad Tobaccowala at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. During our talk, we discussed the importance of driving paid media ROI through engaging, interactive social experiences. Here are Rishad’s thoughts on the future of converged media, and his advice for building an agency that will thrive in the digital era.

Sam: What has to change with agencies and inside brands (non tech) to enable paid / owned / earned to thrive?

Rishad: Three things: A) more collaboration since often owned experts are different than paid experts and also many outside companies can help us; B) agility in order to develop and react to ideas in real time and; C) recognize that marketing is more than ads and includes services and utilities.

Sam: Those that know you, as I have gotten to know you, observe that you have fantastic metaphors and proverbs to make a point...which I'm calling "Rishadisms.” What are a couple of recent Rishadisms which have resonated most with brands?

Rishad: The world may be going digital but people remain analog. Stories matter.

The future does not fit in the containers of the past. We are organized to deliver today, not tomorrow.

Only the schizophrenic will thrive. Run a model optimized for today and one for tomorrow, connected at a strategic/management layer.

Sam: If you were to invent an agency from scratch, what would they do differently than how agencies operate today?

Rishad: Be very careful on what Clients you work with because they will determine: A) your culture; B) quality of work and; C) ability to hire world class talent.

The best people choose who they work for.  

Forget Agency reviews, it’s time for Client reviews.

Sam: For a media buying agencies (like SMG), how is owned media an important part of achieving their goals?

Rishad: One form of owned is content and SMG  and Zenith both have in Newcast and Liquid Thread an understanding of content creation and with partners like Flite, Mass Relevance and others they are scaling content distribution.

Both agencies also find ways to then promote owned and the resultant earned with paid.

Sam: How do you foster and enable agencies to work together more effectively?

Rishad: First, get teams to know each other since it is people, not companies that work together. Second, provide them with common enablers, like we are doing with Mass Relevance, across all Publicis. Third, ensure aligned and fair incentives.

Sam Decker's picture

Sam Decker

Sam Decker is a current member of the Spredfast board. Sam most recently served as the CEO and co-founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast). Prior to Mass Relevance, Sam was founding Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice, a provider of SaaS social commerce technologies serving over 1,000 brands, where he was responsible for building the company’s brand, products and platform.