Self-proclaimed Led Zeppelin groupie in past life. Dhakkan of IITJEE 1994. Faizabad returned. Anti-depressant salesman. Occasional poet and balcony singer. Pharmacist by education. Copywriter by profession. Time-killer by choice.
Why are you into Advertising?
Because it keeps my best instincts blissfully stimulated. Also, it’s probably the only profession in the world where everyone (sometimes, even the client) wants to do your job. Copywriting saved me from doing MBA.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
Tell us about your most recent campaign?
Chaloo rakho Bhalai Ki Supply is a mock-altruistic campaign for Tata Docomo that promotes data usage by making people realise the life-saving power of online sharing of jokes, memes, videos, gossip and other most important useful nonsense.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My parents. And, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
Manav. He’s a friend of mine. When I was looking for the best way to make the least amount of changes in my personality and yet, ‘get a job’, he suggested that I should either become a film director or a copywriter. ‘Film director’ I knew, but ‘copywriter’ was a new word for me. Then, ‘David Ogilvy on Advertising’ found me in a library.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Nature. Art. Books. Cinema. Life. People. Thinking about why do human beings think the way they think and why do they do what they do as a result.
Tell us about your past Agencies you worked with?
I spent the first few years of my advertising career writing business letters, creating direct mailers and other one-to-one communication opportunities at Up Close & Personal and Result McCann before I got sucked into what was then called ‘mainline’.
There, in Everest advertising, Euro RSCG (now Havas) and Leo Burnett, along with other important stuff like, ‘brief kahan hai?’, ‘so nahin raha, soch raha hun’, ‘31st December’, I learnt the most important lesson in advertising – Leave if you are not having fun. There are better paying ways to waste your life.
Then, after a sabbatical that turned into a two-year stint at BrandNewWordOrder as Worldwide Creative Director, I came back to the madhouse.
Tell us something about Contract Delhi work environment.
It’s a powerful feeling that can be best described as a mentally stimulating orgy of ideas and expression.
Tell us about your first job in Advertising.
My first job in advertising was a freelance project. A direct marketing start-up called ‘Up, Close & Personal’ was looking for an aspiring copywriter to write a script inviting fresh engineering graduates to join their client, Hughes Software Systems. I had no idea how to write a film script, so I went back with a ‘plan’ (I didn’t know what else to call it). It was a stick-figure storyboard along with notes and dialogues. Raj Bhatia, (Founder/CEO/Creative director) looked at the sheets of paper and smiled. I got the job. We made the film. The client loved it and the agency offered me a job after the film project got over.
What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now? At least here in India, the released work is most often too sad.
Not that I was ever a part of the so-called ‘golden age of advertising’ or ‘the bromide age’ as I love to call it; here’s what I think.
Truth is, new interactive media provides a much more tangible, personalised, intuitive and addictive experience. Moreover, easy access to too much content in the audio/video format has made ‘watching and listening’ overtake ‘reading’ (naturally, a more demanding task) as the preferred mode of consumption for most people. As a result, print is usually seen as a paste TVC key visual here medium. So, even if a change were to happen, it would need to happen from both ends – the industry and the audience.
As the mass is gradually moving from paper to screen (even in the smaller towns), I feel print can be the new medium of choice to reach the niche. Also, with a lot of exciting art+copy happening in the digital space, I am sure the purists can find peace in the fact that while the layout seems to have changed, the song remains the same.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Yes, for the sake of progress in creative thinking and fueling the industry’s risk-taking appetite, I would like to believe so. Remember, no self-respecting creative joins advertising to play safe and keep repeating what others have already done. So, more often than not, the only commercially viable option left is to do the same old thing in a new way, your way. ‘Subservient Chicken’, ‘Honda Grrr ‘and ‘Dumb ways to die’ are some examples.
Also, since the amount of good work that goes unnoticed is more than the work that wins, I don’t believe that advertising that doesn’t win awards doesn’t do well for the brand. In fact, most of the work that does well for the brand is not even advertising! For example, the film song “Main Zandu balm hui, darling tere liye”. Or the fact that Intel is the brand behind the innovation that has made it possible for Stephen Hawking to communicate. Imagine the good word the engineers at Intel have generated for the brand.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
1: Never fear rejection.
2: Nobody knows everything. Not even the Internet.
3: Anything you can imagine is real.
4: Think of ideas. Kill them. Nurture the survivors. Repeat.
5: If at first the idea isn’t absurd, don’t panic.
6: An optimistic fool is better than an intelligent cynic.
7: Boredom kills you faster than anything else.
8: Always be happily dissatisfied with your product. Everything can be improved.
9: Work with people who are better than you.
10: LOG > LOGO
Your dream project?
Creating a suppository that permanently destroys the idea of violence from the human psyche.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
What’s on your iPod?
Gundecha brothers, Led Zeppelin, John Oswald.
Mac or PC?
Paper and pencil.