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Update (April 17): Just as Sidharth Rao had promised — Bombay Bitch is back. (Thanks for the update internetwala)

Original Story: Webchutney, one of India’s oldest online agencies is getting into the mobile marketing business – they’ve launched an agency called Culture Mafia, which will focus on mobile marketing, advertising and mobile Internet development. WebChutney has excellent creative capabilities, and is best known for its viral marketing campaigns. This move is particularly interesting since I haven’t yet seen much of a creative effort in the mobile marketing space in India, barring a few like Cadbury’s exam results campaign with Reliance Communications.

 

 

Sidharth Rao, CEO, Webchutney

Sidharth Rao, CEO, Webchutney

 

Sidharth Rao, CEO & Co-founder of Webchutney told MediaNama that they’ve been “playing in the mobile space for the last 2-3 months, and it almost almost looks like the internet solutions business way back in 1999-2000. It’s too big for the larger players to get in. If you ask a typical client, he’s seeking a custodian of sorts to channelize what the right thing to do is, with the 30 options he has – whether bluetooth, lead generation or a branding solution. For a Rs. 40 or a 80 lakh a year budget, he doesn’t want to deal with 20 vendors.”

Culture Mafia will have offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore; they have around 15 odd people, and may be getting a business head for the agency. They claim to already be working with Airtel, HP, Eristoff (Bacardi India), among others.

So are they going to have more of a creative or a media buying role? Rao said that there are three key things in mobile – WAP development, advertising (media buying), and mobile marketing opportunities, with opt in databases, like m-couponing. He says they have early projects in each.

On competition, he said that GroupM has a fairly strong presence, but for most of the players like Hungama and Mauj, their core business is value added services. “It’s like 5-6 yrs ago, when Rediff was in the business of making websites. The client now doesn’t have a mobile Internet website, so some of these guys build it for them.”

Webchutneys Content Play
The CultureMafia launch comes at a time when another WebChutney entity – the website Bombay Bitch, has shut down operations and laid off its staff. Bombay Bitch was owned and operated by GooseFish Media Ventures (GMV), the content arm of WebChutney. Rao says that Bombay Bitch will be back by the end of this month, in a different avatar – “Businesses that required continuous investment will be pulled back. Alootechie is now two people only. Content is less than 1.5% of our monthly burn. In case of iGovernment – it’s not an incubation, is a deal. They’re running on their own. Our goal was to invest in them till September.”

Disclosures: I own an inconsequential number of shares of Network18. Capital18, the investment arm of Network18, has invested in WebChutney. Also, Goosefish Media Ventures runs Alootechie, which covers Internet businesses – a segment that MediaNama also covers.