Piyush Pandey Curated

Executive chairman India at Ogilvy


  • How do you communicate and convince attention deficient millennials? Has the rule of the advertising game changed for them?

    Millennials are not aliens. They are human beings and somebody’s children or siblings. One has to understand their ways of engaging with the brands or consuming media and treat them accordingly.

  • Upto what extent "change" is an important aspect?

  • What are the skills one should have to get hired into the advertising agencies ?

  • How does 'culture' plays a role in advertising?

  • How important is story telling in advertising?

  • How do you go about the journey of brands?

  • What made you stay at Ogilvy for so many years?

  • How did you go about the campaign for Mr. Narendra Modi in just 50 days?

  • How do you create advertisements keeping so many Indian cultures in mind?

  • What are the learning from David Ogilvy that has helped you?

  • How do you keep in touch with the consumer wants?

  • How do you help your colleagues to understand the sense of right and wrong?

  • What is the limit or an edge for a responsible advertising?

  • What is the role that advertising plays in the life of consumers today?

  • How do you measure your performance?

  • What is the toughest time when you look back through your journey?

  • How you feel when you see the journey from a position when you joined Ogilvy, to where you are now?

  • What is your favorite commercial?

  • How important are relationships in the world of advertising?

  • What made you stay at Ogilvy for some many years?

  • What is your message to the aspiring students?

  • What are your views on young talent?

  • What makes India's creativity?

  • How is Design Thinking used in the world of advertising?

  • What are your expectations from Envies?

  • Why has Ogilvy instituted The Envies?

  • What are the key challenges that Indian advertising faces today?

    I want advertising agencies to remember that they should not forget the human being behind the message. If you are able connect with consumers as human being reach them meaningfully and get them involved. I also suggest to young advertising professionals that before you know your brand know your consumer and respect him/her. You will do great work.

  • Have digital platforms reduced TV advertising to hard selling?

    Not at all. In fact, I feel digital has become the hard selling medium. Television still has the scope of dealing with consumers emotionally. Some of the ads I presented during the session including Brooke Bond Red Label Hindu Muslim divide has touched the hearts of many through television.

  • How crucial is advertising for political parties ?

    Advertising does have a role to play during elections but it cannot be taken so seriously. It’s the work of the political parties, people concerned and knowledge of the voter which will have an impact on the elections. Advertising, at best, is an air cover.

  • What excites you the most as the new global chief creative officer at Ogilvy?

    I was part of the global team for many years; now I’m the captain of the team. I’ll just have to play well.

  • If there was a cricket analogy to sum up how you feel, what would it be?

    If you don’t play well yourself, then you are unlikely to be in the team and if you are not in the team, how can you be the captain?

  • What are your inspirations?

    My biggest inspiration is my mother. She was not formally educated but had the wisdom to self-educate and to educate others. I learnt team-work from her as she was the mother of nine children and she ensured that each one actualized themselves and stayed bonded. My other inspiration is the iconic cricketer Vivian Richards. He played the game and played it his way, not just by the book. He played the game with a smile on his face and a swagger in his demeanor.

  • What are the campaigns you wish you had done?

    I wish I had personally worked on the Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ campaign. Thank God somebody from Ogilvy did! There are so many other campaigns done by other agencies which I wish I had done. The work on Volkswagen, Hamlet cigars and many more. I love these campaigns because they are engaging, they are real, or they are wonderfully humorous. They are not desperately trying to sell you something. They just make you love the brands.

  • What is the best and the worst life or career advice you’ve ever got?

    Best advice I received was from my first managing director, Mani Ayer: “Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously”. And the worst advice is “Blindly follow research.”

  • How important role does advertising play in social campaigns?

  • What are the responsibilities you carry when you hire a celebrity to endorse a brand?

  • What is "Multiculturalism" according to you?

  • How you do your homework to make an ad campaign a successful one?

  • Do you think you have something common with Sir Martin Sorrell ?

    I hate using the word ‘cricket enthusiast’ any longer because the context has changed in the last three years. I think Martin is a great cricket lover and plays himself. He and I have a lot common on that front. Right from the beginning we’ve had a relationship which has been friendly fun and sincere. I remember when Martin coming in for the first time, we put a big board in my room which said WPP. There was no WPP office in the country at that time. Martin came in looking at it and the WPP actually read ‘Worldwide office of Piyush Pandey’. I respect him for what he has created and the fact that he gives enough leeway to people to find themselves. In the book, I thanked him for being supportive of my unorthodox style of batting.

  • If you have to write a sales pitch for the book, what would it be?

    I would just say that if you’ve a couple of hours free, enjoy yourself. There are learnings over some 55 years put down, but written not like a text book. So have a ball. And mind your own bat.

  • Being a huge fan of cricket, in what ways has it influenced you?

    I didn’t work hard enough once I started playing the Ranji. That was it. It taught me a life lesson that every ball is a fresh ball; it doesn’t matter how you played in the last over. It taught me to treat every opportunity as the biggest opportunity of your life but don’t think of it as an achievement.

  • What was the turning point in your career?

    After I moved from client servicing to creative, Luna was my first step. Then came Fevicol and ‘Kuch Khas hain Hum Sab Mein’ for Cadbury Dairy Milk, on the back of that. It was a big campaign and run extensively. People felt this boy is doing something nice.

  • How do you use your influences and experiences so effectively in advertising?

    You’ll find at least six barber ads in my career. Barbers are chatty people. They talk to so many people during the day and a huge source of information. I always chat with them. As for cobblers and carpenters, I’ve narrated in the book how they used to work in my house and how I used to like chatting with them too. I’ve spent 33 years working with Pidilite and carpenters. So it comes in handy.

  • Do you feel research is an important role in Advertising?

    I don’t believe in Mickey Mouse research. Don’t I do research when I talk to cobblers, carpenters, drivers and barbers? I am actually researching without their knowing. Now when you are into a condition scenario, you’ll get conditions as responses. I hate those responses because they are just on the surface. What do you expect to hear from me? If somebody researches me, can’t he just chat with me and pick out the nuggets where he has caught me unawares?

  • How you make your advertising so -- simple, down-to-earth and grounded?

    Yes, I think we were taught to keep it simple and communicate easily. But you must think of your audience. I may know Hindi well, but I still won’t use it because my prime audience doesn’t use it. So whether it’s ‘Chal meri Luna’ or whatever, it’s the simple things from life. I believe in people speak, so I write it as well.

  • How do you get inspired?

    After so many years, the creative process is like breathing to me. Ideas come and you throw them out instinctively because they don’t make sense for the client. But to answer your question on a practical basis, you have to keep your eyes and ears open. You can’t force it. Go and listen to music concerts. Go to the movies. Go and watch your favourite sport. Whatever you are passionate about, do that. Embrace that. Keep the windows of the mind open. I was traveling on a motorbike once. My colleague was riding the bike. When the idea came to me I wrote it on a piece of scrap of paper on his back.

  • Do you feel Indian creative thinking can be exported across the region?

    I’m paid for delighting audiences in India. If in the process the work travels, it’s a bonus. But if I started to think about advertising that can cross borders, there’s a risk that I would leave a gaping hole in my understanding of India. The bus commercial for Fevicol was a big winner with a lot of people around the world. But I didn’t create it for Cannes. I created it for India.

  • Do you think media and advertising influenced the outcome of the election campaign for Mr. Narendra Modi?

    To jump and take credit for the election victory is a very naive way of looking at life. Media and our work did justice to a great product. We created a fantastic campaign. We’re very proud, and the country’s very proud of what we did. But I’m not convinced by the assertion that we created a wave – we rode the wave. Yes, we talked to the people of India in a language that they understand. But to take credit is to take credit from the man himself and his workers. We were air cover. The battle is won on the ground. I’m not being modest. I’m just being a realistic. Success has many fathers. It’s foolish to bet on one. In ’87, we launched Titan watches. For the first time they came up with watches that were within reach of a lot of people financially, and with designs that India had never seen before. We did not make Titan watches. We did not design the watches or set up Titan shops around the country. To say that we were part of team that made it happen – I hate statements like that.

  • What do you see as the main obstacle to the development of India’s ad industry?

    I come from an era of transition. The biggest obstacle then was for advertising people to see life differently; clients to do things that they hadn’t done before, and for agency personnel to reinvent themselves. How many English copywriters disappeared at the end of the eighties because they didn’t adapt? One of the big obstacles we face is that a large part of the countryside is unreachable through television. That’s why our agency started Ogilvy Outreach with Hindustan Unilever [The Indian operation of Unilever in which the Anglo-Dutch firm owns a 52 per cent controlling stake] to reach the ‘media dark’ areas of the country. These are obstacles to be seen as opportunities and challenges rather than barriers to be depressed by. Mobile is growing at a speed that is quite amazing in India. But we need to create stuff that is as distinctive as the work we create for TV. We shouldn’t put TV work on to mobile phones. We have to ‘think mobile’.

  • What’s your view on where India is right now in its development versus the rest of the world?

    As Martin [Sorrell, the CEO of WPP, the owner of Ogilvy] said the day before yesterday, you should only start worrying about the rest of the world when you’ve exhausted the opportunities in your domestic market. There is a big task ahead to venture into emerging India in the countryside. We’ve reached this audience through non-traditional media until now, but we’ve a lot of work to do. I hate to compare where India stands internationally. I would much rather do work that the people of India appreciate.

  • If you had to choose one, what’s your proudest moment as a creative director?

    If they don’t change every year you should retire! This year has been a particularly proud year because of many different pieces of work. But particularly the work for the BJP [the Bharatiya Janata Party, which won the largest election in history, in which 814.5 million people were eligible to vote, in May]. I’ve also recently created the longest commercial of my career, a four-minute 40 seconds film for Fortune Oil.

  • Working at Ogilvy for so long now, have you ever thought of moving on to pastures new?

    I’ve worked at Ogilvy for 32 years this month. I’ve enjoyed it all the way through, because I’ve performed a number of different jobs. I joined as a client servicing assistant, then in the mid-eighties I shifted to the creative department. I worked on culture-based campaigns to reach the masses; the job was to Indianise the British advertising that we had done in an earlier time. In ’93, I became creative director of the Bombay agency. A few years later, I was asked to run the Bombay office too. Then I became national creative director and chairman. I’ve done a mixture of roles, being both a captain and a creative. So I’ve never experienced a feeling of fatigue or wanting to move elsewhere.