EXCLUSIVE | Ayyappan Raj of The Script Room: Advertising writing not really a solo sport

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Ayyappan Raj, Co-Founder, The Script Room, started this self-defined writer’s hub along with Rajesh Ramaswamy in 2018. The Script Room is all about the love for writing, and it primarily caters to writing for the audio-visual medium.

In this exclusive interview, Ayyappan Raj speaks about the inception of The Script Room, its successful campaigns, how to overcome the challenges in commercial writing, and more.

Tell us about the services that The Script Room offers?

The Script Room is a writers’ hub that’s sharply focused on audiovisual advertising & content – television commercials, digital films, branded content, short films, feature films and any form of audiovisual content.

We have with us, some of the best writers in the country, who have been very successful in telling insightful and engaging audiovisual stories. In terms of client engagement, we follow a simple start-to-finish, script-to-screen kind of a model.

When and why did you decide to launch The Script Room?

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We have always wanted to create something of our own – a creative writing company that stands for everything that we stood for! And this was a favorite topic that we passionately come back to whenever we met.

In December 2018, we decided that it was the right time for us to give it a shape and form and The Script Room was born in April 2019. It’s also our sincere attempt to give writers and good writing its due. 

How has the journey been so far, how has the company grown since its inception in 2018?

It’s been beautiful. When started we were working from home (funnily we still do) and now we have offices in Bombay & Bangalore. We have done more than a fifty films till now, lovely campaigns for brands like Netflix, Oyo, Vedantu, Chumbak, Beck’s Ice. 

And there’s this strong desire to remain small, for as long as possible. Right now, what’s working for us is the fact that we’re a fairly senior team and we’re really hands on. From Sudhir Rajsekharan, Ujjwal Kabra to Ramsam and Ayyappan, it’s a team that has worked on large brands/businesses and known for creating really powerful and iconic campaigns. 

What has been your communication strategy to reach out to newer clients?

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To be honest, we have mostly gone with the flow. Except a few, most of the clients that we are working with have reached out to us with the desire to work with us. And, more than the kind of clients that we want to work with, it’s the kind of work that we want to do that’s important for us.

We are wanting to create stories out of product propositions, situations out of functionalities, and we are really keen to produce work that bridges the gap between entertainment & advertising. 

What is The Script Room’s marketing strategy for the next quarter?

Faith and good karma. Continue doing good work and hopefully that gets us more work. 

What are some of the campaigns that The Script Room has executed that delivered remarkable results?

We have been fortunate to work on a number of remarkable campaigns in the last eighteen months. We have worked on multiple campaigns for Netflix. In fact, one of the first campaigns we worked on was for Netflix to promote their Originals – Selection Day. They’re a series of ads that appear one after the other in IPL over consecutive breaks. The campaign won us the Best Digital Creative at the Star Reimagine awards. 

The second campaign that we did for Netflix called “So What are you watching?” was on air during the cricket world cup. It was nominated as a finalist at Effies.

Our films for OYO Rooms won us a Blue Elephant at Kyoorius 2020 and Digies Gold. This was part of a series that we executed for the brand. 

Our latest campaigns include a 6-part film shot for Vedantu – an edutech brand which starred Aamir Khan that was very well received.

 

How has COVID-19 affected your business and how have you helped your clients navigate through the Covid-19 crises?

COVID has affected our business just like it every other business. Everything that used to happen in person and over lengthy creative discussions locked up in a room has now moved to long video calls.

This is an uncharted territory for all of us and we are constantly trying to navigate the situation in the best possible manner so that work doesn’t suffer. In fact, our latest campaign for Groww- an online investment platform, was directed virtually by Ujjwal Kabra. 

What are the challenges that writers’ face in commercial writing and how can one overcome them?

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Everything starts with an idea – we jam a lot on arriving at the central thought, that’s the first thing that we do. Then it’s about figuring out the right tone of voice, funny or endearing or purposeful, etc. Once both are in place, we spend the same or more time in crafting/writing for the duration and budgets, factoring in all the production constraints. 

What is the advice that you would like to give to young budding writers? 

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Be curious, be open. Read about writing, talk about writing, watch about writing, and do a lot of writing, not just on the job but otherwise as well. And advertising writing is not really a solo sport, so quickly learn to build on the thoughts, ideas of others. 

Your thoughts, please