Keith Fernandes’ journey from being a salesman to a leader in the OOH (Out of Home) Advertising space in Goa has been a ride of self-belief and enterprise. SLIPDISC, the outdoor advertising agency that he founded, just turned 25 – and is a testament that hard work pays

Keith Fernandes Founder-CEO, Slipdisc Advertising

Slipdisc Advertising is a leading outdoor advertising agency in Goa that offers premium quality billboards with nearly 60% market dominance and growing year on year. To target more and different types of audience, they have mobile billboards in Goa that come with the same advantage of Slipdisc billboards along with high visibility, punctuality and more miles covered than the closest competition. Slipdisc also has the most visible bus shelters specially located in the bustling locales of Goa – Panjim, Porvorim, Calangute, among others.

Founded by Keith Fernandes and completing 25 years in the OOH business, Slipdisc was launched at a time when the OOH industry in Goa was monopolised by just a few operators. Keith foresaw the opportunity to serve new companies, corporates and brands. Today, the agency services some top clients from across the country and of course, Goa with stand-out campaigns.
Keith says, “Even we find it hard to believe that we completed 25 years! Who would have thought, 25 years ago we would be where we are today?”

The Man Behind Slipdisc
Keith is a Bombay Goan and his work ethic is shaped by the maximum city. He spent his formative years there and then his family moved to Goa to live on their ancestral property. Keith completed his schooling in Goa, at St. Britto’s. He returned to Bombay to pursue his college education at St. Andrew’s. Soon after, he began his career by working for a multi-level marketing company. Here he learnt the ropes of the trade from his friend and mentor,
the late Alex Thomas. He then joined Pepsi as a salesman. Under the guidance of another
mentor, Albert Zuzarte, Keith worked his way up. He was lucky to have Zuzarte as his boss at Bisleri, too.
While working at Bisleri, Keith received an offer to join JWT (at the time, India’s No. 1 advertising agency) which was setting up a branch in Goa. Their outdoor division was called Portland and they wanted someone to head it in Goa. At JWT, Arminio Ribiero took Keith under his wings. That is when his advertising career took off. He handled various big national clients like Idea Cellular, Airtel, Tata Indicom.
Simultaneously, Keith started off his own event company and organised the first ‘Battle of The Bands’ event, to promote live music. The ‘Battle of the Bands’ was started as a way to fuel his passion for music. Keith used to be a drummer with a rock band, but after he got full time into his marketing and advertising career, there was no time left to pursue music. The ‘Battle of the Bands’ was held for 15 successive years. He used the events to promote his advertising business and get noticed. “Back then very few businesses would spend on creativity and advertisements. We used our passion for creativity in the event business,” says Keith.
However, this is where the penny dropped and he realised that his main income came in from advertisements and he decided to focus solely on advertising.

Entrepreneurship Beckons
Adversity has a strange way to open doors. It so happened that JWT felt that their satellite office in Goa, which Keith was heading, wasn’t generating enough business. The agency gave him the option of moving back to Mumbai and joining the national team at a senior level. “I didn’t want to go back to the hustle and bustle of life in the big city. I decided to give myself a chance here in Goa and that is how I started off. I gave myself 6 months – in case Goa didn’t work, I could always return to Mumbai, as I had several offers, and not just from JWT. But at the end of those 6 months I realised I was content in Goa, and enjoyed the outdoor advertising business.”

Initial Challenges
However, success and clients did not come easily to Keith. “The challenge in Goa was to get clients to understand the need to advertise. Forget selling creatives and billboards, convincing people to spend on advertising was a daunting task. Now, of course, with bigger corporates coming in, things have changed. In the early millennium, even the big clients coming in were reluctant to advertise in Goa, being unsure of market spends and market behaviour.” But interestingly, he was encouraged and guided by his boss at JWT, Arminio Ribeiro, who always believed that people with entrepreneurial spirit, like Keith, should be allowed to spread their wings and grow.
Keith would make around 20 to 30 sales calls a day, in order to convince people to

Team Slipdisc at a conference in Dubai

advertise. It was quite common to see Goan enterprises spend their entire budgets on establishing a place – its décor, its furniture, its location; and leave absolutely no money for building its brand identity, or spending on its publicity and marketing. In those days, before social media, people talked a lot about ‘word of mouth’ advertising, hoping that goodwill will get footfalls. But people were more interested in putting their money in setting up a good place to run their business rather than spend on advertising and brand building.
Now Keith says that the scenario has totally changed as people are more aware, thanks to digital media.

The Story behind the Brand
Keith has an interesting story regarding the name Slipdisc. “I am born and brought up in a family of musicians. My father was a jazz musician and used to perform in a club in Mumbai called Slipdisc. I started my business as an event company and I used to always remember my father talking about this discotheque in Mumbai called Slipdisc; where all international bands like Led Zeppelin, and the illustrious Indian rocker, Nandu Bhende had performed. I then thought of using the name. But in the beginning, many people would call and ask if we were a clinic for treating a slipped disc! Friends, clients and family advised us to change it and use any conventional name. But we stuck to our guns, and always explained the story behind the name. Of course, rock music enthusiasts always knew what we were talking about. Soon the rest of the people got used to it. Today, people tell us it is an unusually catchy name.”

The OOH Leader in Goa
Keith considers all his initial projects as his most important ones, no matter how small they were. “I remember going over to these small businesses and asking them whether they would like to advertise. It was a learning experience as getting these businesses to advertise and gaining their trust was a task by itself.” The corporates came in much later and Keith’s venture took off but those initial projects are those which he holds closest to his heart.
Keith takes great pride in admitting that many of Slipdisc’s employees have been with them right from the start. “Some started as youngsters and grew middle-aged with us, while some started as college kids (working part-time) and have grown on to become bright young team players. The inspiration is to get them interested in the dynamics of advertising, when they are young and then get them to grow with us. Most of us enjoy whatever it is we do.”
Slipdisc handles any project that advertises outdoors. “Anything to do with outdoor advertising, we do it all,” says Keith.

Covid Scare
The pandemic proved to be scary for all entrepreneurs. Costs ran high and returns were nil. Running an advertising company meant having to deal with Covid and the various challenges it presented. “During Covid there was no work due to the lockdown and the staff was sitting at home. How were we supposed to generate revenue? During those two years, we struggled but somehow ploughed on. Fortunately, the political campaigns began and no one wanted to touch the political parties at that time. Ad agencies do not like to work with political parties as they have a bad track record where payments are concerned. I took up the challenge and when nobody wanted to touch TMC as a brand, political consultant Prashant Kishor got in touch with me and requested me to take up the campaign. We did our best and were pretty successful and that helped us get out of the Covid dumps. After elections, the entire market boomed and that’s how the faith in people to advertise began to grow.”

Keith with wife Jacqueline and daughters Deanne and Kiara

A Journey to Cherish
As Slipdisc completes 25 years, Keith says a lot of people have contributed to this milestone. “First and foremost I would say my team is pretty amazing. We have a great creative director in Bina Nayak. Diana, Emily, and Ravhy have been with us since our ‘Battle of the Bands’ days. But the biggest contribution has been from my wife, Jacqueline, who has backed me through thick and thin, and has stood by me when the chips were down. We have had our shares of the highs and lows. My wife has played a large role in encouraging me initially and assured me that things would take off even when the scenario looked bleak. We are still in the process of growing and have just touched the tip of the iceberg; and still have a long way to go.”
From a salesman to an outdoor media bigwig, Keith has come a long way. “You never stop learning as every day presents a new challenge. There are always going to be challenges, but you win some and lose some. The most important thing to do is ensure that you keep your team happy and there will always be new opportunities on the horizon.”
Keith, while sharing his mantra for success, says humility is very important. “Being humble has played a major role in my life as I feel the day I say I know it all; is when I stop learning.”
With all the experience he has gained over the years, Keith offers a few words of advice to his younger self. “Start from scratch. It is not going to be an easy ride. You have to gain the trust of clients and you can do that only when you listen to them, deliver and execute whatever you have promised. There are no shortcuts to success.”
Regarding his future plans, Keith wants to take it one day at a time. “I do not know what the future holds and I want to take it one step at a time. We are here for the long term. Our professionalism, dedication and devotion to work help us thrive in this competitive environment”

Battle of the Bands

25 YEARS OF SLIPDISC: LEADING THE OOH SPACE                  Many clients have been with Slipdisc right from inception. It boasts of having many firsts to their name and here are some of the highlights of Slipdisc’s 25 year run:
• Created Goa’s most loved rock show – ‘Battle of the Bands’ which had a run of 15 years.
• JW Marriot, Deltin Casino, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Tata Motors, Taj Hotels, Radisson, Sunburn (and many more) have been their clients for more than a decade
• 60% of their employees are with them since inception.
• Slipdisc is the 1st Out-of- Home (OOH) agency to make billboard sites available at one’s fingertips via a mobile app • 1st OOH agency to offer GPS tracking on mobile media (for 4 wheelers and 2 wheelers)
• 1st OOH agency to offer solar powered mobile billboards
• Only OOH agency in Goa that provides punctual monitoring and media reports to clients
• Creative and innovative use of OOH media
• Premium and well maintained billboard sites in Goa.                                                                                                                  • In house design studio that creates original, bespoke designs, as well as adaptations of existing creatives.                    • In-house digital and video production studios                                                                                                                                • Largest fleet of 4 wheelers and 2 wheelers mobile media in Goa which is an excellent way of marketing one’s brand.  • Transparent methods of functioning. Their website-, lists all their billboards and other media, and their locations. They were the first in Goa to do this, more than a decade ago
• 1st adopters of all new technology: website, apps, GPS tracking, videos, and reports on WhatsApp.


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