Mandar Wairkar a hard-core Mumbai ka Chokra, currently based in Kuala Lumpur as a Creative Group Head at J Walter Thompson, Malaysia. A student of JJ Institute of Applied Arts, life was great back home in Mumbai watching Bollywood movies, dancing to Dhol tasha tunes every year at Lalbagh and relishing bhurji-pav post mid night while still enjoying his advertising stint at Ogilvy. Life took an interesting turn when he decided to go for a backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and was offered his first international break in Singapore, which he still finds it hard to believe. It’s been 5 years since then and he is enjoying every bit of this roller coaster ride.
Why are you into Advertising?
My father is a renowned Illustrator and Cartoonist, who worked in the advertising industry for more than two decades. All I heard as a kid was his advertising stories, discussions with his fellow art directors and writers whenever I was home. Unknowingly it played a huge influence on me and it was fairly an easy decision I took. So unlike many who bumped into this business, I always wanted to be in it.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
Yes. I did my bachelors of Fine Arts at Sir. J J Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai
You have won so many awards etc. How has that impacted your career?
I think awards do play a crucial role in our business. It’s a small pat on your back for the effort you took to bring that idea to life and it feels good when you are recognized for it. People want to have a conversation about those ideas and are more than happy to hear the back-story behind that particular idea as well. I have been lucky, that it has also given me an opportunity to work with few of the best mentors in our industry, which I would never think of.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not necessarily. There have been many brands out there that have created fantastic creative work but have not necessarily managed to reach the expected business growth. On the other hand we have Ariel’ “SHARE THE LOAD“ campaign in India, which has managed to win big at every award show since couple of years and which I am sure is doing wonders for the business as well.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Oh yeah, my mother has always been the one when it comes my life and one of the funniest members of my family. Trust me she can give Russell Peter’s a run for his money. I am not kidding. Haha.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
Our Advertising God Piyush Pandey but are there are two more individuals I would like to thank who had a very direct influence on me. Sumanto Chattopadhyay (ECD at Ogilvy, Mumbai) and Edwin Leong (former ECD at J Walter Thompson, Malaysia)
Where do you get your inspiration from?
There are so many things around for inspiration these days but yeah, TV Series play a crucial role lately.
Tell us something about the work environment at your agency…
It’s comparatively a smaller set up unlike most of the big agencies back in India. Malaysia being a multi racial country, it’s a good mix of people I am surrounded with and Malaysians in general are very easy going.
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
I am working towards one but there is still a long way to go.
What about new and young film makers/photographers? Do you consciously keep looking for newer talent and try someone completely new?
Oh yeah, as a creative I always tend to find and explore new talents around the globe. There are enough blogs out there which makes it comparatively easy to hunt for one and if the budgets do allow then why not? It’s always interesting to collaborate with someone completely fresh. He or She can bring a very contrasting point of view on the table, which might be something very new and interesting to do.
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?
To be honest here in Asia, it’s not too different than what it is back home. I am sure every creative out there does try his best to come up with something interesting but by the time it’s out in the newspaper it’s only the left overs what you see and the real idea goes for a toss on every round of approval. Unfortunately, that’s the sorry state of print media.
Any notable digital campaigns?
Burger King “The McWhopper Proposal” and “The Marriage Market Takeover” by SK-II
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Try to find an opportunity to work abroad, whenever you can even if it’s for a short gig. It helps you open up to different avenues, learn new cultures, understand different markets and people from a completely foreign land. Don’t worry, you might get to know a bit more about yourself like every foreigner out there might think you are from IT. Hahaha…it still happens to me when I meet someone new outside work. It’s fun working with different set of people and all they know is Shahrukh Khan and Bollywood (Sing and dance around the trees) about your country.
What is your dream project?
I want to write a super hero script, sell it to Christopher Nolan and convince him to shoot the entire film in Mumbai and not just a sequence. I am sick and tired of US being the fictitious location in every god dam super hero movie.
Mac or PC?
No two ways about it. Mac.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Beau Willimon.He’s a screenwriter of Netflix series HOUSE OF CARDS. He is the unsung hero who’s made Kevin Spacey what Kevin Spacey is in that series.
What’s on your iPod?
From Sairat “Zingaat” to Glass Animals “Gooey” I have it all.
Whats your Twitter Handle?