Anoorupa Bose is a fearless Creative Director. Give her a brief and she’ll come up with an idea that is so bold yet effective, that you’ll want to take the leap with her! Anoorupa is also a fearless human being. She has always fought for her rights and the rights of her teammates at previous agencies where employees were overworked and systematically exploited.
Why are you into Advertising?
In advertising, you get to be an artist, a filmmaker, a craftsman, a hacker, a revolutionary for social causes, a public speaker, a writer, a storyteller, a strategist, a musician, a startup incubator, a data analyst, a psychologist, it´s a field that enables you to express your creativity in so many different ways and that’s why I love it!
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I studied English.
You have been a highly awarded Creative at a very young age. How has that impacted your career?
Feels a bit awkward to brag, but yes, in school I was always the most-awarded student in theatre, writing and public speaking competitions – all of which has greatly helped me hone my skills in advertising. Especially theatre, because even before you get to publish your campaign to the public, you need to first pitch that idea face to face to your client, and that’s when all the drama, stage training and public speaking experiences from the past unleash.
Tell us about your stint in Europe. You put the Baltics on the World Awards Map!
It was a culture shock in the greatest way possible. 10+ Years of working in some of the best agencies in India, I was so used to seeing shitty work and designs being churned out day after day and suddenly I was in this European agency, where even their worst piece of work had such high quality of production and visual aesthetics! I was so used to bosses in India making you overwork every day, even on weekends and suddenly I was in an agency where even calling or messaging after 5pm was considered unprofessional and rude. I was so used to clients micromanaging creative people’s work in India and suddenly, I was working with clients who trusted your vision and gave you full freedom to execute it. It made me realise that what we have normalised in India is NOT normal and we must do everything in our power to change it! It’s not going to be easy, but we gotta start trying.
What made you start Optimist?
I come from a business family in Kolkata and I had always dreamt of starting my own business some day! I was working for Optimist Estonia and while I put their agency and Estonia on the world awards map, they put me and my talents on the world awards map as well, so it was the most beautiful partnership where we grew together, because of each other and for each other. So when I decided to start an agency in India, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to do it in partnership with the founders at Optimist Estonia and collaborate closely with their teams in Estonia and Germany, because they’re simply brilliant! So together, we decided to start the agency in India, in the middle of the pandemic, without any clients or leads. We had to call ourselselves Optimist!
What is your vision for Optimist?
Optimist is borderless. I am an Indian who ran the most successful campaigns in Estonia without even knowing the language. If you are creative and you understand the nuances of advertising, you can feel the people, the culture, the pulse, the brands and consumer insights of any country across the world and release clutter-breaking work. So at Optimist India, we work with talents and clients from across the world, including India of course!
How do you intend to take on the big heavy weight agencies of advertising against your own?
We never feel the need to take on anyone/any agency. If you are good, the universe will conspire to get you the dream projects. We do however have a few advantages over big heavy weight agencies. We are lightweight and small when it comes to headcount! When you have a small team, you can ensure each and every member is a master at what they do, so no chink in the armour. We also don’t have the pressure to pay 100 salaries, so we can boldly say ‘NO’ to toxic/micromanaging clients who force you to do shit work, even if they promise high pay! So our portfolio of work will not have rubbish in it. When we get resource-intensive projects, we have a battalion of talented people we collaborate with. Gone are the days when you needed to show a big internal headcount to pull off resource-intensive projects.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Yes. My grandad, mom and aunt. My family escaped Bangladesh during the partition and came to India with blood-soaked clothes as my great grandfather had been shot on the way. From there, from nothing, my grandfather started our family business, an outdoor media agency called Bells Advertising Syndicates. My mother and aunt took over the business reins in the 1980s, and today it is one of the biggest outdoor media firms in West Bengal. So I have grown up seeing my granddad, mother and aunt put their heart and soul into their business. All the business ethics I have, I got from them. In the industry, mom and aunt are called ´chordi´ and ´bordi´, which means ´little sister´ and ´big sister´. To be respected and to be loved, oh man, they inspire me so much!
Who was the most influential personality in your career in Advertising?
My first boss Amitava Majumdar from Mileage Advertising, Kolkata. I had entered his company with a strong creative instinct, but zero discipline. He was strict, no bull shit, and had zero tolerance for silly mistakes. He taught me to look at something a million times, to rethink something a million times, before I present or finalise an idea, so it´s bullet proof.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Very hard to trace back inspiration. I just submerge myself in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep thinking and BYYYYYAAAAMMM – the idea strikes! Sometimes it happens after weeks of research, sometimes it’s almost instant when I receive the brief. It’s always a mystery what led to the spark.
Tell us something about the work environment at your agency…
We work in a beautiful old Kolkata house. If you step inside you’ll feel like you’ve entered your Bengali arty friend’s home rather than an ´office´. It’s full of paintings and antique furniture. That was the intention, to feel at home, to be super comfortable! We don’t have fixed desks. Sit wherever you like, any chair, any room, any sofa or on the balcony – wherever! We start at 10, end at 6. We do not overstep on people’s personal time. We want happy creative people, not corporate slaves! If we like your work, we either match your salary expectation, or say goodbye in case we can’t match it. BUT WE DO NOT BARGAIN. Why should employees compromise on their expectation on remuneration when we as an agency refuse to compromise on our expectation of quality work! We are very optimistic and want to create an agency where there is no exploitation or toxic work culture!
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
Yes. Every year, for a month, we plan to work from Tallinn or Berlin. Working in a different country with people from different cultures can teach you so much!
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
There is nothing such as a ´boring brief’ or a ´boring project’ in advertising. You ALWAYS have the creative power to make it exciting! And if you can´t, you’re just not good enough (yet).
What is your dream project?
Run a campaign to raise public awareness about what is happening to Julian Assange and raise public pressure on the US and UK government to free him.
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Julian Assange, so I can share campaign ideas to help him win his freedom. Julian Assange is the greatest journalist of our time and he needs the support of Creative Directors and advertising agencies worldwide!
What’s on your iPod? Spotify?
Róisín Murphy – Overpowered is the latest addition.
What’s your Twitter Handle? Instagram?
In my professional life I have to use social media so intensively that in my personal life, I´m more than happy staying inactive.
Some of Anoorupa’s work:
Digital campaign: #14isnotOK – the campaign that helped raise the legal age of sexual consent in Estonia
Packaging for Kohe coffee
Outdoor: This was a proactive Viagra ad from my portfolio back in 2006. Still love it!
Website: Our company Optimist website that I created in collaboration with Yuto Taksahashi from Japan.
Data mining & innovation: A digital billboard that runs on code, publishing the LIVE weather report and comparing it realtime to the weather report from the same day 30 year ago, to give people a harsh reality check on how global warming has impacted the world.
Colours of freedom for Estonian defence forces