Seven years ago, the Sri Lankan ad industry was still in the dark about the field of digital and the direction it was taking. Everyone knew it was going to be the next big thing, but both clients and agencies alike were reticent about exploring it and taking risks in this relatively unknown and unfamiliar territory - until Shift took the first bold step.
Seeing possibilities in an arena that no one dared enter, Sujeewa Samarasekera was to shift the landscape of advertising to another level. He decided to take his insights and long-sighted vision through his own collaboration and began Shift in 2008. Today, Shift has diversified into a digital-led fully serviced communications agency that encompasses insight-driven creative strategy, digital marketing and clever technology, creating effective campaigns and promotions that work seamlessly across all above-the-line, digital, social and mobile channels to bring consumers to life wherever they are.
“We were never meant to be just another agency. We were the first to enter the digital innovation media space and were ahead of the curve long before others. And today, we have some of the youngest, yet brightest team of thinkers and doers with an edge for new ideas and a yen for excitement,” said CEO Samarasekera.
Shift has a certain dynamism amongst its 45 employees who work under three categories: Shift Integrated, Shift Events and Activations, and Shift Digital. With a mindset that embraces change through innovative thinking, this team sees beyond the norm and understands new-age clients and creates campaigns that work for a new generation.
Now, ready to take Shift to yet another level is its new face, well-known industry power-woman Chrishy Kotalawela. With over 15 years of experience in marketing communications, she left an internationally affiliated agency to make waves in new-age media as the Managing Director of Shift and will be directly responsible for the execution and management of integrated marketing campaigns. Her task ahead is hard, yet she is confident that smaller agencies have an edge over the big competitors as clients are more savvy to service, new ideas and better communication.
“I am here to complete the link by binding social media to traditional advertising or vice versa,” she says. “We are growing and we are inventive and we will ensure that our clients are seen in every platform.”
Chrishy has gained an industry reputation as a perfectionist who will leave no stone unturned until the final task is of the highest standard and quality. Her insight into brands spans verticals from finance to retail, having worked on some of the country’s largest and popular brand names.
Among some of the more recent clients is Cargills, entrusting Shift with their corporate communications for their leading supermarket chain Cargills Food City as well as all digital media communications for all of the Cargills brands. Sri Lanka’s most-viewed viral video ‘Be Brave’ created for Airtel is another feather in the agency’s portfolio, with integrated campaigns being done for Sri Lanka’s only South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).
Taking on the digital space, Shift created ‘firsts’ for Pizza Hut and Odel with online and gaming campaigns, bagging awards at the first ever Best Web Design competition held in 2008. Shift is also the only agency in Sri Lanka to provide 3D live hologram technology, which changed the entire ‘event-scene’ in the country.
Meanwhile Sujeewa explained that all content and material, whether it is for ads or video, is created in-house.
“From creatives to app and game development, our team is trained and specialized locally and internationally,” he said.
While Shift continues to expose its team mainstream international ad industry programmes such as Spikes, AdFest and Cannes, the focus is on recognizing and honing their individual skills by attending specialized forums and conferences.
Seven years is a milestone, but the team at Shift is ready to take on their tasks with greater force.