Toast Tastes Success with Brand Films, Mulls Independent Influencer Marketing Vertical
by Mugdha Gaonkar Industry Watch | June 30, 2021 | Interview
Harshad Chavan Toast Events
Events and experiential marketing company Toast Events launched an advertising and content creation vertical in 2019. From March 2021 to date, Toast has curated a total of 11 films for brands like Jack & Jones, Forever New and Marriott International.
EVENTFAQS Media reached out to Harshad Chavan, Managing Director, Toast Events to know more about the company’s diversification from events to merchandising to making ad films over the years, outlook on live events and more.
When was the agency launched? How many branches and people did you have in 2019? What's the number now?
Toast has been around for the last six years now. We launched in 2015 and have consistently grown ever since. We had a team of about 35 people in 2019. We’re working with a smaller team now, with a core team of 20, while certain members have been on furlough, or we bring in external help where needed.
You ventured into advertising and content creation in 2019, before Covid19 hit. What was the thinking behind the diversification?
For us marketing is like a machine – various parts coming together, to achieve one goal. Very often we’ve seen that in the chase for that one goal, the overall messaging delivery for the campaign goes for a toss. It was here that we felt we could create an overall campaign umbrella for brands, without diluting their message and provide them services beyond just on-ground events.
We also realised that we’d been blessed with a remarkably diverse, non-events team – people who came from different brand marketing backgrounds like PR, advertising, digital and brand solutions. This mixed team really elevated the way we started thinking about brands and made us realise that we could add so much more value to brands at a fraction of the cost that they would incur if they went to different agencies for different functions. And here I must say, it was our existing clients that truly had faith in us and our ideas and pushed us to take the leap and partner with them on functions beyond events. So, we took baby steps into the world of content creation and advertising. The response has been phenomenal.
How has the vertical grown since launch, as a percentage of the overall business? (Pre- pandemic and after.) Is it expected to be a mainstay now for the agency?
While we can’t divulge exact percentages, the vertical has grown considerably over the last two years. We’re producing way more content and ads than we did in 2019, and it’s been a great learning process along the way. This vertical is definitely going to continue to be a big part of the business going forward. It will contribute significantly to our growth in terms of business numbers, as well as growth in clients who want to explore smaller, niche agencies like ours for their content needs.
How big is merchandising? When was it launched?
Merchandising has actually been around for us since the very beginning of Toast, just that we limited it to fun invites and hampers. Having said that, with the pandemic kicking in, since the only thing people could do was send cool merchandise to their influencers, media, stakeholders, we saw a huge boost in the demand for quirky branded products. The company took the lead from that demand, and we developed a special team that would focus only on merchandising, and that really helped us deliver some great products to our clients.
Will the agency return to live events when the business is back?
Absolutely, we’re raring to go for live events and are completely equipped to handle them as soon as the markets open up. We in fact just did the launch of the Westin Hotel in Goa, this April, along with a couple of more niche, private events as well.
What is your outlook on live events? When is it likely to return to the old numbers?
Vaccination will play a huge role in bringing events back. The more people get vaccinated, the larger the immunity status in each city, the lower the chances of Covid19 numbers increasing again. We definitely think there is some hope for the festive season this year, and maybe a few cities may get back to a certain level of normalcy. However, on the safer side, we feel 2022 will be a much better year for live events.
What are the other verticals you are looking at? We hear you are into the influencer vertical as well...
Yes, we’ve been doing some good work with influencer management and marketing as well and will hopefully develop this as an independent vertical in the coming months. For now, influencer marketing is already an important service we offer to our clients as part of our existing 360- degree solutions strategy.
EVENTFAQS Media reached out to MD Harshad Chavan to discuss the company’s diversification over the years, growth of merchandising during the pandemic and outlook for live events.