Aritra Dutta : In Conversation With A Much Awarded Advertising Creative

Meet Aritra. You can call him Awri. Currently ranked #16 on the list of D&AD’s Most Awarded Copywriters 2018 and #22 on the One Show Creative Rankings, Aritra believes that an idea is like a resilient, highly contagious virus. After a stint with Ogilvy India, he is now teaming up with great creative minds at Ogilvy Singapore to infect brands with integrated campaigns. 10 years in the industry and winning 7 Cannes Lions has only managed to fuel his insatiable appetite for great work. And if he’s not in the office, you’ll find him binge-watching latest TV series and comic-book movies, cheering for Arsenal and travelling around the world and dining at the best restaurants.

Why are you into Advertising?
Well, there are the obvious clichés like not being an academic student, loving the stories in the textbooks and watching ads on TV or in theatres. But the most compelling one was that after my board exams, I realised I won’t be a good engineer, doctor or a chartered accountant. Next, I tried learning animation, but art or designing were not my strong points. The next choice was advertising. Thankfully, it worked out.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
Well, I attended a course on advertising in St. Xavier’s College which they ran in partnership with Advertising Club, Kolkata. Although, I don’t remember anything that was taught there. But, it got me in touch with people who helped me land my first advertising job as an intern. P.S. I also dropped out of MBA, because of my advertising job.

You have won so many awards etc. How has that impacted your career?
I’m a strong believer in awards and I believe that people who say awards don’t matter only say so because they haven’t won any. I feel awards get you noticed by the very best of the creative minds in the industry. Once you win, the recruiters start calling you for new opportunities and promotions comes more easily. But, the best part is winning awards makes me hungrier. After winning gold in Cannes Lions and D&AD Graphite Pencils, I want to win that coveted Grand Prix and the Yellow Pencil.

Do you think brands whose advertising win awards, do well in the market?
I feel it works the other way around. Brands whose work do well in the market, win big in award shows. If you go through the winners’ list, you’ll notice there are always bigger brands like Nike, Burger King, P&G, Apple, Diesel than those small non-profits. In most cases, the advertising from these big brands do very well in the market and therefore it becomes eligible for submission and the success of the campaign becomes a stronger case study for winning the award.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
There were different people at different point of time, from Maradona, Sourav Ganguly to Kurt Cobain, Dave Mustaine. Also, my parents, elder sister and few of my friends played a major part in who I’m today.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
This might sound like an award show speech, but there are two kinds of people who have shaped my career and helped me in two very different ways. The first kind pushed me hard and helped me punch above my weight; like Eugene Cheong, Nicolas Courant, Steven Hough, Ajanta Barker, Sairam Vijayan, Ujjal Sinha, Ranadeep Dasgupta. Whereas people like Mervyn Rey, Anoop Sathyanand, Deepesh Rajani, Indrayudh Mitra and Mahim Chaudhury gave me the room to grow and spread my wings.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Well, everything under the sun. From the morning newspaper to social media. Superhero movies to Netflix Shows; Premier League Soccer to MasterChef. Even, at times just looking at people and how they go on with their life. Also, I regularly follow advertising websites and blogs, awards archives and tech websites to keep me updated.

Tell us something about the work environment at your agency…
I think Ogilvy Singapore is the best place I’ve worked so far in my career. Being one of the top 10 Ogilvy offices worldwide, the standard of work we produce is very high. But, not at the cost of people’s lives. We rarely work late nights and working on the weekends is never encouraged. In my 2 years, I have worked only a couple of weekends so far.

Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
We have a number of programs to nurture young talents. Also, in the creative department, we hire a lot of interns straight out of the school. They get trained on the job, which I feel is the best training they could get.

What about new and young filmmakers/photographers? Do you consciously keep looking for newer talent and try someone completely new?
Absolutely, but I personally look out for filmmakers and production houses who are doing new and non-traditional work specially for digital and social media. Like, if someone is creating really cool or controversial content or doing something on Instagram or using VR.

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?
I don’t think it’s really that alarming. I agree that most of the released work is either a retail catalogue or a real estate ad. But that’s not just in India, it’s the same thing all around the world. Currently, print ads act more as a support for the Film or the digital campaign. But I have also noticed some really good long copy ads from publication clients or some stunning tourism ads in travel magazines.

Any notable digital campaigns?
Most of the work we do here is for the digital platform. But the campaign I’m really proud of is – IBM Cognitive Fashion, where we used AI to turn data from the internet and social platforms into 12 couture dresses which were launched at the Melbourne Fashion Week.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Cultivate your curiosity. Look at everything from art, opera, movies, tv series, documentaries to cat videos, ASMR videos, cookery shows. Also, go through every advertising website and award archives, follow the best creative professionals try to emulate them. At least until you have your own style. You might fail most of the times but trust me it will work out. Also, be on time to work, walking in late is not cool.

What is your dream project?
Quite a few actually.
1. Promotions for the next Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds.
2. The next World Cup Soccer Campaign for Nike or Adidas.
3. Work with Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze or Guy Ritchie on a Superbowl Commercial.

Mac or PC?
Doesn’t matter. As long as it runs Word/Pages, Powerpoint/Keynote, and the internet, I’m cool.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My wife Namrata, I think we’ve the best of conversations while eating until we start looking at our respective phones.

What’s on your iPod?
Last time I used my iPod, it had Nirvana, Megadeth, Bob Dylan, Alter Bridge, Arnob (Bangladesh), Kabir Suman, Fossils & Chandrabindoo (Kolkata). Currently, on Spotify, my playlist include Hans Zimmer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Jay-Z, Eminem, Nucleya, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper among others.

What’s your Twitter Handle?
@Aritra_ But generally I use it to catch up on news and updates. I feel it’s faster, unbiased and precise.

Some of Artitra’s works:

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