Saltmangotree, an advertising agency started by four youngsters from the State is climbing up the ranks with its motivated workforce and youthful designs

What is the logic behind naming a marketing communications company ‘Saltmangotree’? Is it a reference to Mohanlal’s stitch inducing translation of the word uppumaavu in Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam?

“Not really,” says Arun J. Prasad, one of the four founders of the company, “the explanation we usually give is that the name represents what we stand for. The salt is a symbol of essential ingredients, the mango is the dash of sweetness and the tree represents networking,” he says simply. “And also,” chimes in Andrine Mendez (whose fancifully decorated business card lists his designation as ‘the guy who talks’) “there is something very Kerala-centric about the name, and despite the fact that we have expanded beyond the State now, these small things ensure our roots are not forgotten.”

Rapid ascent

Saltmangotree Creative Marketing Communications is the brainchild of Andrine, Arun, Sunil Raj and Hiran Venugopalan, a group of friends who started the company in 2011. Since then, the small company has climbed up the ranks quickly to become a prominent name on the national level.

“Once we focused on our vision, things started falling into place, and clients started coming to us. Soon we had names like Ranbaxy Pharma, Fortis Healthcare, Federal Bank and the like in our portfolio, and the opportunities led us to begin expanding out of the State,” says Hiran.

Arun and Hiran manage things on the home front, while Sunil handles clients out of Bangalore and Andrine manages the company’s new office in Gurgaon. Though they initially started out in social media, the company has expanded into a full-fledged advertising agency, handling campaigns including mainline and digital communications consulting and animated video production for products and services.

Promoting young talent

One of the things the founders have done well is to put together a talented and loyal team. Artists, illustrators and web developers who would otherwise have been lost in the crowd have been handpicked and given an atmosphere to thrive. To this end, they have produced a video promoting their resident artist and even funded a few graffiti projects around town. The creative vibe continues in the office, with fantastic designs adorning the walls and action figures and collectible items made out of paper gracing the shelves. “We keep telling all our employees to consider themselves as brands, and to build themselves with that in mind. To achieve this we try and include a watermark to credit our employees in the material we produce and create behind-the-scenes videos of them at work,” Andrine continues.

From paper art to portraits of famous movie stars made from coffee stains and spices, unconventional is the path of choice for the young team. Their vibrant colours, graffiti inspired designs and catchy phrases represent the next generation of advertising, which is particularly useful when it comes to grabbing attention on social media. A quick look at their Facebook page gives a good impression of their philosophy, and there is even a video highlighting the work culture of the company.

Despite the close bonding between the founders of Saltmangotree, they have no illusions of friendship and fraternity being the only bonds within the company. “In the end we have to be professional, it is a business. We do not want to encourage a scenario where the company cannot function without our presence, on the contrary, we will be more than happy to be out of the picture after a few years and see it function without us. While advertising and social media is still catching on in Kerala, the competition outside is intense, so we cannot afford to compromise on professionalism,” says Sunil.

Andrine says that the focus for the future is to be known as a company that can deliver good value. “Our goal now is to become marketing partners to our clients. We are also looking into providing sales-based solutions for financial institutions. Another plus is that our efforts have been noticed overseas, and we are in talks with a European company that is willing to invest in us, so the future is quite exciting,” Andrine says.

Keeping it casual

With a list of illustrious clients and a workforce brimming with talent, Saltmangotree is on the fast lane of communication consulting. And despite all the responsibilities that accompany their rise in the ranks, Andrine, Sunil, Arun and Hiran still make time to have fun, eat out and poke fun at each other and their employees. Talk about going about your business with a smile on your face.

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Bringing Them Home

Saltmangotree adopts a unique approach in procuring staff for upper management positions, with one criteria being that they must be Malayalis. “I have noticed that a lot of the top executives in advertising and marketing companies in the country are Malayalis, and a lot of them are interested in returning to their roots. Also, we prefer people who understand our philosophy as a company as well as we do,” says Andrine.

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