Salahuddin Shahed graduated from Institute of Business Administration (IBA) of Dhaka University (DU)in 2001 and entered into professional life right away. Later on, he went to Canada to pursue his MBA and returned in 2004. He started working immediately and had a distinguished career at Grey Advertising Ltd. until last year, when he joined Bitopi as the Chief Operating Officer.
The Fintech team recently had the opportunity to interview him at his office. Here is an excerpt of that interview for our readers:
As the COO of a large advertising behemoth, what is the scope of your work?
We are a full-service communication agency, so we provide all types of communication services to our clients. Whether it is traditional or modern advertising, we provide equal importance to all types of advertisements. My responsibility is multifarious. I have to look after all our internal operations, as well as look over our planning department and creative departments. On many occasions, I have to give my time tothe servicing and finance departments as well.
But my main focus is with the creative department because that is our main delivery focus. In a word, I have to say, as the COO of the company I have to look after our clients’ satisfaction and the quality of service and quality of the work itself.
As an advertising agency veteran, what are the major changes you’ve been observing in the industry for the last one decade?
First, I’d say, is digital adaptation. The industry is adapting quickly to the changes brought by the digital technologies. The more exposure digital technologies get, the easier people’s lifestyles become. Once people had no option but to sit in front of the TV to get updates of the news of the day, but now things have changed. People now can get updated news at any given time of the day from diverse sourcesand mediums.
Bitopi, in the last one decade, has also made a lot of advancement digitally. It has learned as an organization to adapt with the changes of time. Now, if it starts working on one advertisement, it knows how to give the finishing touches using digital technologies in the quickest possible time as per the clients’ requirements. This has brought new challenges as well. Earlier we had more spaces to tell our stories. Let’s say we used to get half of a page of a newspaper to tell the story of an advertisement, but now in the digital medium— where people’s attention span has drastically reduced— I now have to tell a story in the fastest possible time; this is obviously a challenge from a creative perspective. Earlier we could have gotten 10 lines to sell you something, now we have to do it with just 2 lines. These are the challenges of our time. I take it very positively though.
Did Bitopi merge with FCB?
No, we didn’t merge with FCB. We are completely a local company. Our chairman is Reza Ali; Sarah Ali is our MD. They are our shareholders. We are an affiliated agency of FCB, which means we have access to their clients, tools and knowledge. We are basically working with FCB’s network. We did not merge.
How you are using technology to handle your clients and other works?
We are adopting all sorts of necessary digital technologies. We have our internal software, with which we give client support and manage their accounts. We are also using smartphones to handle our client communication in an efficient and fast manner. We maintain our web page and social media account in a very professional manner and I believe, in this era of social media, this is very important for an advertisement company – to properly invest into handling their social media account.
Many businesses lack market education, especially about using tech components. For example, they lack the idea of developing mobile apps to reach to larger target groups. What is Bitopi’s approach in this regard?
Many new business entrants don’t want to work on branding and marketing. They also show hesitation and tend to dillydally in adapting to new technologies. I believe that in the era, this is thewrong approach. Many companies have this notion that they first want to grow their business and then they want to focus on the marketing. This is not the scientific approach of doing business. Growing the business and marketing should go simultaneously for the maximum possible output.
Can you tell us something about your successful campaigns and projects?
Bitopi is ahead of others in terms of creativity. That is why there is a notion in the market – that when Bitopi takes a client, it delivers something unique for it. We have been working for a long time with Horlicks. It is one of our biggest clients. We have also been working with bKash. In last year, we developed a campaign on the bKash App and it has been a major success. Another of our success is the advertisements we developed for Pathao.
What is the future plan for Bitopi?
We want to work more with data. Suppose, while we are working for our clients like bKash and Pathao, the client have access to usage data. Together, with our client, we want to use the data to make communication more data driven.; we want to use that data intelligently and create some data-driven intelligent advertising content. I believe this is the future of advertising itself.
N:B: This is the updated version of the interview