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Connected TV and digital getting more streamlined with integrated media planning is the next big wave in A&M industry: Abhay Sawhney of Initiative

BestMediaInfo Rising Star High Chair winner Sawhney, Associate Director at Initiative, shares his views on the growing trends in the A&M industry, the success of the MG Motor campaign and opens up about his everyday life

Abhay Sawhney

Teamwork is the key to the success of any campaign and that is what led to the good response of the first-ever launch of an EV by MG Motor India, believes Abhay Sawhney, Associate Director, Initiative.

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Sawhney was BestMediaInfo’s Rising Star High Chair winner for MG Motor’s ZS EV Launch #ChangeWhatYouCan campaign.

While it was teamwork, Sawhney said, “Every team has a centrepiece and I somehow managed to play that role in this campaign. I was everywhere, be it at the strategy, ideation or execution level. I played the role of a connecting dot among all the collective effort that went behind putting the campaign together," he explained.


He thinks winning the Rising Star High Chair has made him more confident. “Getting recognition for the hard work that I’ve done has given me a boost of confidence. I feel a lot more confident in myself and the leadership team at my office has seen that too. They’re also appreciative of all the hard work that I’ve been putting in.”

Sawhney started his career with the TOI brand team. From there he moved to Lodestar in 2011, which gave him a lot of exposure to media planning. Sawhney then joined GroupM, where he handled accounts such as Google and Nokia. After that stint, he went to IPG and handled Maruti Suzuki. Presently Associate Director at Initiative, he has been holding the MG Motors account for two years and has earned accolades for the success of the car maker’s recent campaign.

According to Sawhney, the next wave in the A&M industry would be how connected TV and digital are getting more streamlined and more connected with offline planning, or integrated media planning. “The possibilities of targeting a customer to digital are endless compared to TV, where the options are a little more restricted.”

Sawhney advised newbies to jump in, learn and take each day as it comes. He feels each obstacle will give you the perspective to deal with issues and add to your personality. “Not many people choose media planning as a career, so be wise and focused if you're selecting this industry.”


He opened up about the challenges and fun of working in the advertising and marketing industry, where both aspects go hand in hand. "The challenging aspect is striking a balance between work life and personal life. The fun aspect used to be the partying, and the creative liberty in work," he said.

Sharing his professional and personal experiences during the pandemic, he said he looked for positive traits during this period. He said he got to spend a lot more time with family, and found himself more productive and calm during this time.

Sawhney said he always takes inspiration from people such as Ankur Bhartiya, Arun Sharma and Srinivas Rao. "There are also people like Tanmoy Barua, who've been ever-present in my life. All of them have years of experience under their belt and are highly knowledgeable people,” Sawhney said.

Throwing light on his winning the MG Motor campaign, he said, “This was a very different campaign as this would be the first-ever launch of an EV by MG Motors India. We had to look at it with a different lens given that it was a big-bang launch. When it comes to EVs, the mindset of consumers is different compared to a traditional car. The question arises whether we'd be able to sustain the waterlogged streets of India, how long would the battery last, etc.”

He said they had to educate the consumer that the issues they were talking about are not there anymore because the technology is pretty advanced. “We strive to give you products that would not trouble you in the long run. I collectively discussed the strategy for a cricket campaign with the Star team, too, narrowing it down just to the idea. Chinnaswamy stadium being the first self-sustaining stadium in the country contributed to the ideation. We picked up aspects such as solar panels on the roof, etc., and connected the dots to the central theme of our campaign, #changewhatyoucan,” he said.

On a typical day, Sawhney wakes up around 7 am, works out a bit, followed by work at 9:30. “Work goes on as long as it does. Around 7 pm, I wrap up and spend some quality time with my family," he said.

He said he would have loved to create an app or do coding if not in advertising and marketing.

Sawhney is also a sports lover, which he enjoys during his free time. "I am a huge supporter of Manchester United. Other than that, F1 and more such sports interest me the most," he said.

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