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‘Every brand should have a digital presence’: Apeejay alumna who runs an advertising agency

Neha Bhalla, who founded her advertising agency in 2017 talks about the rising prominence of digital media

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Apeejay College of Fine Arts alumna Neha Bhalla’s advertising agency has a unique name—Elephant and Ant Media. Located in Jalandhar, the company’s name comes from its motto of “working with clients of all sizes,” says Neha, who founded the company in 2017. In an interview, the graphic designer and Google-certified digital marketer tells us about her inspiration behind starting her venture, future plans, and more. Read on:

What memories do you have of ACFA?

I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at ACFA. The institute gave me a lot of exposure. The professors supported and guided me well throughout my course. They recommended advertising agencies while preparing me for my professional journey. I secured my first job through Professor Vikram Singh’s reference in Chandigarh. I joined the job in 2015.

How did you plan to start your own venture?

It happened gradually. In my first job at an advertising agency in Chandigarh, I learned a lot while working on projects for a variety of brands. Some of my designs are available today. Later, I worked at another advertising agency in Mohali, where I worked on TV and newspaper ads. I also got to learn the fundamentals of social media marketing. After working there for almost one-and-a-half years, I thought I should start an agency of my own. That is how Elephant and Ant Media, Jalandhar, was born.

Were you always keen to have a venture of your own?

The inspiration came from my mother who runs an NGO in Jalandhar to teach underprivileged kids art and craft and painting, free of cost. I grew up watching her work hard to help her community. Through her grooming, my mother instilled in me the desire to create something of my own.

Were there any challenges initially?

I was already freelancing while working at the Mohali agency. I had personal clients from overseas for whom I was handling branding, advertising, etc. I soon realised I could convert my freelance work into my own agency.

I started my company from my room–I worked from home for almost a year. Now, of course, I have my team operating out of our office in Jalandhar. My husband Daksh and I run the agency together.

How was Daksh roped in?

Daksh has an MBA degree in Hotel Management and Tourism. He was initially handling his family business but was quite interested in graphic design and advertising. Following the launch of our advertising company, he took up some courses to learn more about the work. Now he handles creatives, motion graphics, etc.

Can you tell us about some of your most important projects?

In 2019, we worked with the Embassy of Egypt on a project called ‘Egypt by the Ganga’. The project spanned Delhi and Mumbai. Our agency took care of design and social media. Besides, I have done branding-related work for some pubs in Goa. Currently, we are working with a number of local and international brands. 

Advertising has evolved over the years. Since you have experience in both traditional and digital media ads, what, according to you, is the major difference between them?

Digital media allows you to promote your product to people across geographical boundaries. Every individual today owns a mobile phone, and that can be leveraged to reach out to more and more consumers through digital ads. Digital media gained all the more prominence in the wake of the pandemic when people avoided touching newspapers or flyers. Today, brands need to have a digital presence or they would face the risk of missing out on a lot of potential users.

When it comes to design, you have to make it attractive enough to draw the user’s attention so that they click on your page or ad. The design quality is as important as the content.

What future plans do you have for your company?

People tend to rely on advertising agencies in bigger cities like Delhi or Chandigarh. That is the mindset I want to change through work whose quality is at par with bigger agencies. Meanwhile, I am chalking out some plans to extend my business. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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