Amit Kapoor works with Team Y&R Dubai
Why are you in Advertising?
Because nuclear physics was too easy. On a serious note, I blame Alok Nanda and Vikas Gaitonde for that. They had done a campaign for Air Mauritius that drew me to advertising. Interestingly, several years later, I’d written an ad that caught Alok Nanda’s fancy. He called up Sanjay Khare, the art director I’d done the ad with, and we spoke. We met once after that and he offered me a senior position in his agency. But it was around the time I was moving to Dubai.
Did you always want to get into advertising?
Not really. I started out by selling space for a yellow pages directory. My beat was Kalbadevi (Mumbai). Then, I was a management trainee in a finance firm. I quit that job to open a dance school with a friend. That failed gloriously, too. A friend mentioned advertising and it seemed like a profession that gladly accepted screw ups like me.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Yeah, there were a few. My dad, chacha (dad’s brother), my mum. All of them incredibly talented. Although my mum didn’t pursue any career, she has influenced me in more ways than she’d like to take credit for. I grew up idolising Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in advertising?
It would have to be Rajan Nair. Can’t thank him enough.
How has advertising changed over the course of your career? Is execution/art direction more important than it used to be? Do you think advertising has become more clever and less intelligent?
It’s become more visual, for sure. No, I don’t think it’s less intelligent. You can’t be clever without possessing certain amount of intelligence. But, in most print ads, brevity emerges almost like a fault. But the ‘more clever’ opinion has crept into the mindset because a lot of ads and commercials now conform to the new mantra – It’s the age of entertainment, so let’s entertain. Cadbury’s gorilla spot springs to mind. As for art direction, it was always important. It’s not anything new.
How is advertising in Dubai different from India and SE Asia?
Indian advertising has its own idiom. As do Malaysia and Thailand where they have their unique style of wit and cultural references. Along with Singapore, they are the creative powerhouses in Asia. There are a lot of parallels between Singapore and Dubai though. Barring the exception that Singapore has been there, done it all and got the t-shirt. Dubai, on the other hand, is just beginning to appear on the global advertising radar. The next five years will be fairly interesting. It’s an exciting time to be in Dubai.
What would you advice youngsters who want to work overseas?
Don’t forget your roots. That, and travel light.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From extensive dendrite connectivity in my brain.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market? Apple, BMW, Burger King, Virgin, Harvey Nichols, Coke, Guinness and several other brands that win major gongs seem to be doing well in most markets. Surely, there must be a connection.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit advertising?
Yeah, when I became a qualified brain surgeon.
What makes a good Creative Director?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the finest CDs – Rajan Nair, Sonal Dabral, and now, Shahir Ahmed. Here are a few things I’ve picked up.a) Inspireb) Lead from the frontc) Know when to step out of the wayd) Give the rebels a causee) Roll up the sleeves and work on the stinking briefsf) Ignore all this and make your own rules
What are your views on Scam Advertising? I don’t disrespect scam ads. At some point, we’ve all done them or have thought about doing them. If we can legalise drugs, we can legalise scam ads.
We hardly get to see Illustration based Art Direction. What do you think is the reason? Is it that we don’t have any inspiring illustrators or is it the Client?
There have been quite a few illustration-based campaigns in the recent past. Stella Artois, Smarties, M&M’s, Marmite. The idea should deserve the treatment. But it’s fair to say, they are in minority. Good illustrators cost as much as the photographers, so that could be one of the reasons why clients still insist on photography.
Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
Kate Beckinsale, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, Natalie Imbruglia, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Scarlett Johansson, Vidya Balan, Rachel Weisz, Kate Moss, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Carrie-Ann Moss, Radha Mitchell, Rene Russo… sorry, what was the question?
Whats on your iPod?
Don’t have one.
Mac or PC? Mac
Amit Kapoor works with Team Y&R Dubai