Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy India, does not believe in doing the most popular thing in the market. He would rather try and create something that can be very popular and needs deeper thinking. For instance, item numbers have been very successful, but will he do one? “No. I’d rather find something else which is better, otherwise it becomes a formula and I don’t believe in formulas,” he told Ashish K Tiwari. Edited excerpts:
What are the three things that make Ogilvy click so well?
I’d say belief, respect for the consumer and respect for our clients’ needs have worked for us and the end result is out there for everyone to see.
You are an acute observer of people and trends. How do you absorb the nuances of life – the panorama of emotions, attitudes, quirks et al?
It’s a 24 x 7 job of observing and understanding people, seeing the changes they are going through. It’s not a research but observation of human life. Respect the surroundings and do not tell yourself that you know it all. You have to keep learning.
You have been at the fulcrum of advertising for more than three decades. Where does creativity go from here? How different are the creative guys of today from the earlier ones?
I don’t think creativity will ever change. The expressions may change, media may change, we may move from conventional media to new media, but the one who will succeed will be the one who will be more creative in doing it. This is because the new media will be available to everybody, but only the most creative will stand out. That’s the way I see life, which is ever changing and one has to keep pace with it. Values will never change and you’ll have to live with them. Certain expressions will change and you’ll have to learn them.
If medium is the message, how do you see the new platforms panning out in India?
I think all media will live together. I have always believed that in the next 10 years, conventional media is not going to get out of fashion, but new media will come in. Everyone has to be prepared to accept the change and yet not forget that we are not the best. Even the best has not changed that much. I mean, the talk about new media is a bit over-hyped to my mind. You have to keep pace with it. There is a new India which is lapping up the conventional media and you will have to keep a sense of balance between the two.
What’s the one accolade you are yearning for?
The only accolade that I really yearn for every day is that when I go to my barber shop, my barber tells me I saw your advertisement and I loved it. That personal connect is much more to me than anything else. On Tuesday night, there were 50 students who met me and said I loved your work. Now, they didn’t give me an award, but I think it was a bigger award than anything else that we got on the awards night.
At the end of the day, we are commercial artists and not artist artists. Otherwise, I would be happy painting things in my house while nobody else would be interested in them. I am paid to reach out to people and when people react to the work that we do, it is the greatest accolade and nothing can get any bigger than that.