After toying with a number of wacky ideas, from a contraption to help people sleep while waiting in a queue to the world's ultimate advice outsourcing app, former O&M national creative director, Abhijit Avasthi has decided on his new venture.
Avasthi left the WPP creative agency at the peak of his career, that saw him create Cadbury 5Star's forgetful brothers, Asian Paints' Wah! Sunil babu and, recently, the Google reunion ad.
Calling itself a creative problem-solving consultancy, Sideways Consulting has a team of engineers, designers, design-researchers, technology and mobile telephony experts, besides advertising talent.
"We will also collaborate with domain experts for our work as we realise we can't hire everyone," adds Avasthi. The outfit's name was inspired by Avasthi's favourite book, The Art of Looking Sideways, which encourages an alternative perspective. It is working with Aamir Khan, who was chosen by the Mahasrashtra government to promote small storage structures for rain water harvesting to make villages water-sufficient, under the Jalyukta Shivar Yojana. The government will also seek the cooperation of companies.
Avasthi says that Ideo, a US-based innovation and product design consultancy, which counts Apple as a client, as a reference to what Sideways will do in triggering emotions in people. "It is the first of its kind in India. We will apply right-brain thinking in every aspect, not just marketing. Solution-seekers, from the marketer to the government official, all have notions about who will solve their problems. We will be putting people of different skill-sets together to change those presumptions, who love to collaborate and solve problems of any kind."
To hold his crew together, Avasthi says there is a methodology to diagnose clients' problems that would prove to be different than the new campaign-mindset of agencies.
The team is also talking to companies including an e-commerce site to adopt a product in its sector with the help of an interesting service proposition when the product is delivered.
He would also help start-ups cut costs and get creative. Sideways will also chase social projects rather than wait for ad-hoc work. Avasthi had earlier mentioned he wanted to put his social observations on life and people that he collected over the years to good work.
Avasthi's partner, Sonali Sehgal, who was senior vice-president (client servicing) at O&M, says, "We crafted and re-crafted our business model every time we spoke to people, it has been such intense learning."
The duo is expected to formally sign up clients once Avasthi, who will judge films (TV ads) at Cannes later this month, returns.