Born in Bangalore in 1965, Manmohan alias Maac was educated in this city and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Art from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath.
In 1989, he joined Ogilvy and Mather advertising in the art department and worked there for fifteen years. By the time he left to start Temple Advertising, he had been Creative Director for 8 years and a national creative resource at Ogilvy.
Some of his work on clients like Titan Watches, Allen Solly, Lee, Louis Philippe, TVS, IBM, 3M, Indigo Nation, Scullers, Reliance Trends, Wipro Technologies and Hindustan Levers has been commended at prestigious international advertising awards like The One Show (New York), Cannes, New York Art Director’s Index, and Clio.
Maac has been on the jury at the Asia Pacific Ad festival 2002, ABBY Mumbai 2008 and Bangalore Advertising awards 2000 & 2004.
He has directed over 25 advertising films. His interests also include photography, painting, sketching and sculpture. His bronze sculpture is in the permanent collection of the prestigious Lalith Kala Academi. He has also won the Kerala State Film Award as Best Art Director 2005 for a Malayalam feature film.
He now is Chief Creative Officer at Bates CHI & Partners India.
“I grew up in a house that gave me art and only art. My father was an artist, sculptor, model maker and illustrator. He was well-known in the art circles of Bangalore and was a big influence on me. I used to spend a lot of time with him in the hope that I’d one day be like him. In fact, the day I bid goodbye to advertising, I will only do pure art and look up to the sky and say thank you for all that He has done for me.”
Why are you into Advertising?
Not sure why I got into advertising. Actually I was keen to become an animator but due to financial pressures I had to forgo what I wanted to do, and I joined Ogilvy. Thought I’d work for a few years and then pursue my dreams but those few years became 18 years at Ogilvy.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I did my Applied Arts at CKP
You have won XYZ awards etc. How has that impacted your career?
Awards are the main thing in advertising that keeps one excited. It has helped me to some extent but working on a brand and doing great work on it is what will help one’s career. All my 18 years at Ogilvy I worked on Titan and that has really helped my career growth path more than awards. Yeah, I have won a few at NY Art Directors Index, One Show, Cannes, London International Advertising Awards, Adfest, Abbys.
I have realized only a handful of people in advertising and maybe a few clients will remember the awards you have won. But it’s good to try and win some international awards, at least you will know where you stand.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
As I said earlier my father was a big role model for me. From life to career he is the one. And in advertising it would be Piyush Pandey. I’m awed by that man.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
Lot of people right from my first boss at Ogilvy to Piyush. The list is long but every copy partner I have worked with has done something to shape my career.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Look around, be an observer, talk to people. Everything is there to see and get inspired from.
Tell us something about the work environment at your agency.
With the amount of travelling I do these days, it all appears hazy. But on a more serious note, we have an environment that encourages people to love what they do. Unless you enjoy advertising you’re not going to be in it for the long run.
Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
We spot young talent largely through referrals and word of mouth, and once they’re on board they learn on the job. Many of the people who have passed through our agency doors have gone on to do well for themselves.
What about new and young film makers/photographers? Do you consciously keep looking for newer talent and try someone completely new?
There is a lot of talent coming out. Problem is how to sniff out the best one. Tried a few new talents now and then, but because of the stress and deadlines, you’re sometimes scared to experiment and tend to go with the tried and tested.
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? Why do you think it has lost the shine? Why are the younger lot more interested in TV?
Young people rarely read newspapers or print media. The digital world has taken them. And it’s very difficult to find good art/copy talent now that’s a big issue. More and more copy/art teams that I see do not work in tandem, so detailing goes for a toss. Every writer who spends two years in advertising wants to become a director, so he is more interested in writing film scripts at the agency. Added to that EXPENSIVE print cost, limited reach and plus no good talent is killing good print advertising .
More and more young people are web savvy and want to work on the internet or on more entrepreneurial ventures. Has that affected the quality of people advertising has been getting?
You used to find the wilder ones in advertising earlier, but now the options are many. To that extent, yes.
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not sure about that. A few brands have, like Fevicol, Vodafone, Titan…
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Be alert, observe life and keep up with the times. And particularly for art guys, stop googling before thinking.
What is your dream project?
An anti-begging project for the State Government which I’m currently involved in
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My wife and kids.
What’s on your iPod?
Don’t have one.
What’s your Twitter Handle?