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Just like ideas can strike anytime and anywhere — while coding hunched in front of a laptop screen, during a client meeting, or in a small shuttered space that you would like to call your office — opportunities come a startup entrepreneur’s way just about anytime. This is the story of how we bagged our first big break that brought us to our first successful campaign as a full-service creative design studio.

Where It All Started: Getting a Brand on the Move

The feeling of accomplishment on finishing your first project as a startup team is priceless. But celebrations and revelling would have to wait as there was more work to be done and a bigger cat waiting to be belled. The cat came to us in the form of bus stop branding, a genre none of us were familiar with at the time that Ninjacart told us of their plan. The state of confusion about whether we should take up the project or not was only a byproduct of inexperience, but there was no lack of courage to jump up and grab a challenge by its collar. And this quality of our team came to the forefront when we accepted the bus stop branding project.

Having worked as a part of user experience teams in the past, we wanted our campaign to hit the right spot amongst Ninjacart’s target audience. That was also what was holding us back. Getting the pulse of the user is a tough task and when it’s through bus stop branding, it requires ample experience to get everything right. Anything from the legibility of the font or the design can make or break the entire effort. And we had a little over 48 hours to get it right. We weren’t about to become the cat’s dinner, and so we set out for a recce to explore and understand our model, Bangalore’s bus stops!

When you have a design studio, having a skilled artist on the team pays off big time. So it did for us when we decided to make a miniature prototype of a bus stop to show it to the Ninjacart team. After a few roadblocks, including melting thermocol on trying to stick it with Fevibond, errors in measurements, and keeping up with our full-time jobs (where else will the funds come from!), we had a prototype ready just in the nick of time. It looked exactly like a newly built bus stop in the city and the ninjas loved it so much that they admired it from every angle possible and even took selfies with it! Our second campaign saw daylight on almost 45 bus stops. And phew, what a feeling it was to see it in all its glory!


The Glamorous Onions: Pebels on Print

Over the last two projects, not only did our team grow stronger, but we also developed a great rapport and a strong bond with the Ninjacart team. This was the time when onion was being sold at the price of gold. Well, not literally, but the city’s onion supply had taken a hit due to incessant/insufficient rains and it was being sold at unbelievably high prices. It’s true that the greatest thoughts and discoveries are nurtured during hardships, and the ninjas had a eureka moment for a groundbreaking mass campaign to sell a kilo of onions for Rs.1. The medium of the campaign? It was time to go on print.

If you have a faint idea about advertising, then you would know that print advertisements can cost lakhs of rupees. To be trusted with something so huge was undeniably an honour that Ninjacart had bestowed upon us. However, our thoughts then were if we could meet, let alone exceed, their expectations. When you work in an ad agency, you can get away with a few mistakes while delivering a campaign. Our experience working with ad agencies in the past had taught us that quite well. It’s an entirely different ballgame when that agency is your startup and you’re responsible for everything you do. Gulp!

For this campaign, our models were, you guessed it, onions. We decided to churn out a design with stock photos of this invaluable veggie. If you’re thinking why we didn’t click pictures of real ones instead, let us remind you that their prices were skyrocketing (the reason behind this campaign, remember?). The sample stock photos of the onions we used turned out to be too “glamorous”. So we worked with more realistic ones, like the ones you would use every day, finalised the design, and sent it to The Times of India. We had butterflies in our stomach waiting for the next day’s newspaper.

It was a priceless moment to see our ad printed bold and beautifully on the lower half of the newspaper. Our debut campaign on print for Ninjacart was an instant hit and there was a flood of business for the ninjas and their delivery boys. We ordered a kg as well using the ONION promo code (same pinch if you did too)! After this campaign went live, Ninjacart was all over social media for all the right reasons. The campaign had a great impact on Ninjacart’s business as it got the company more than 20,000 new customers within a span of two to three days. The whole idea behind a campaign is to get a brand closer to its customers. To be able to do that for our very first client was the turning point in the story of our startup.