With that in mind, he went on to establish an agency that encompassed it all. And thus, Encompass Events was created. Today, Encompass is among India's biggest and best Events, BTL and Content Creation agencies, with the mission of bringing brands to life as experiences and creating positive engagement through 'interactive conversations' rather than 'one way communication'.
In candid conversation with EVENTFAQS, Roshan Abbas speaks about his forthcoming partnership with the world's largest advertising agency in India and the event industry on the whole.
Multi-national companies are buying equity stakes in a lot of event management companies. As we understand it, Encompass has also sold its major stake and you have got the best deal so far. Could you elaborate?
Encompass has been looking for the perfect partner for a while now and finally, we have found one. We can't give further details till the deal is through. The world knows who the partner is and is even saying that Encompass has found the world's largest advertising agency in India as a partner. I often joke that the event industry has always been like the mistress of advertising. We give a bigger bang for the buck but the client is still wedded to traditional communication. It's time to ask for our legitimate share because the experiential marketing industry is more engaging than the advertising agency and it delivers results. Encompass doesn't call itself an event agency. We clearly call ourselves a Marketing Communication Company, one which is not into 'brand communication' but into 'brand conversation'. We want to educate the market by saying that one way communication is death, we believe in live interaction of any sort. Live interaction is what Encompass is creating through activations as well as events. We believe that we are the future of advertising. We were waiting for someone to recognize that and we have finally found a partner who has.
After this major deal, what are your plans of expansion?
Firstly, one only wants to partner for legitimacy or for having a larger playing canvas. Though we deal with 50 of the top 100 companies, we still want to deal with the other 50. We now want to increase our share of voice and to do that, we have a partner. What needs to be understood is that 'though the brand custodian is the advertising agency', we control the new interaction points.
There is also a tremendous dearth of talent in our industry. Many talented people leave the field thinking there is no future. We would like to act as evangelists for the field. The events industry needs to come together as a body, leaving their issues aside and work as an association to develop and provide a viable career opportunity. We would like to expand and build such an association. We would also like to invest in creating properties and upgrading technology. If the event company doesn't start value adding and become the vendor in the mind of a commercial department at a client, we are never going to be taken seriously. Otherwise, the danger is that we become just 'a little excitement for the evening' and are soon forgotten. I believe that one has to create something that people look up to. I value Wizcraft for creating IIFA as they showed how to create a brand and a property. At the Dubai Shopping Festival, millions flocked to see every event. Here, events drive an entire economy. That's the impact we can create. And India needs such events. There are many more plans for expansion which will unfold as we go along.
You are the only celebrity who has ventured into the event management business and is so successful. How do you manage to handle celebrity status along with your business?
'Leave your ego at the door' is what I believe in. If I walk into the client's office as Roshan Abbas, the television face, my attitude will be that of a TV anchor. I am sure people look at me that way sometimes, but if it works to my advantage, then so be it. Being in the media sometimes allows me to open the doors easily. Yet I haven't used my name blatantly to my advantage. Our clients don't interact with Roshan Abbas, the television personality; they interact with me because I am Roshan Abbas, the Managing Director and creative driving force of Encompass. In such a case, I am there to service a need.
I have been at events and concerts and seen artists take a 'Holier than Thou' position, sit backstage and throw tantrums, forgetting why they are there in the first place. This attitude doesn't work with people. The audience is your client and you'd better service them well or you will be shown the door. This is a huge learning to stay grounded. My point is, the people out there have made you. You lose touch with them, you lose touch with reality and then it's over.
Encompass is a leader in the BTL category. We hear that you are restructuring. In the new scheme of things, how do you see the growth of Encompass?
This answer is nicely reflected in our logo. Initially, Encompass' first logo was two hands balancing 7-8 spheres. The reason behind that was that we did only events and used to call ourselves quintessential jugglers for that's what event mangers are: jugglers who would juggle design, artist, communications, venue, etc. Now, as times change and our spheres of work increase, we have changed our logo too. Now, you can see one window and through that single window, various spheres of work enter. The message that we are trying to convey is that though Encompass is a one window solution, the window is now clearly demarcated into promotions/activations, events, content, exhibitions, etc. - each a specialized service for which we need specialized divisions. All these can service individual needs but when we need an integrated solution, all can combine and feed off the strengths of each other. That is why we have an integration division as well.
Encompass is now into television production (UTV's Bindaas Lagegi) and it's getting good reviews. Where do you see yourself heading in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see Encompass being among the top two players in any line of business that it exists in. We have always been creatively renowned. We would like to retain that. The hallmark will be through the line offerings. For example, along with Colgate, one of our clients, we went to schools and got children to write two lines on 'what brings the biggest smile on my face'. The top 100 entries were given to Javed Akhtar and Shankar Ehsaan Loy and they wrote a song inspired by those 100 lines and that song was further put up on Sony television. What Encompass did was that it created a unique idea which became a one to one activation, a one to many event and a one to million content piece. We believe that driving activities like this creates perfect engagement at all levels. This is where we want to command market leadership. Also, in the next five years, content is going to become really big for us. For example, the reality TV shows popular today are akin to an event being done in real time. The only difference is that TV has the ability to call a 'cut'. The ability we need to inculcate is to be open to minute detailing, which comes when your show is paused, reviewed and critiqued as happens in television. Movies are next in line for us, for all we demand is a bigger canvas. Personally speaking, in 2008, one will see a movie directed by me, come what may!