Neeraj Sabharwal : DesiCreative in Dubai

Neeraj is a CD at EuroRSCG Dubai

Why are you in Advertising?

Because I seem to be a misfit everywhere else.
And advertising happens to be where misfits congregate.

Did you always want to get into advertising?
No. I wanted to be an astronaut (wasn’t good at maths or chemistry), a game designer (parents thought it was a cheap excuse), an adventurer (didn’t know where to start), a rock-star (didn’t have the following).
Hence advertising.
How come Dubai ? Was language/culture, a significant challenge to be overcome?
Long story. One that involves a lawsuit and a legal stipulation that forbids me from giving out details in a public forum.
Culture in the Middle-East is fairly easy to understand. You can joke about everything except religion, politics and sex. Hang on… they just took away all my material.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My grandfather.
He introduced me to the literary world when I was young and always told me to follow what I wanted to do. He obviously didn’t have the advertising industry in mind when he said that.
I think Jacques Séguéla sums it up best with the title of his book: “Don’t Tell My Mother I Work In Advertising, She Thinks I Play The Piano In A Brothel.”

Who was the most influential personality on your career in advertising?
My ex-partner, Rachna Dhall, for sparking off my love affair with art-direction and design.
My ex-boss, Rohit Misra, for making me think 360 before it became a catchphrase.
My ex-planner, Ashutosh Sharma, for always raising the bar a little bit higher by playing the Devil’s advocate.
Other than them, there have been a slew of people I have interacted with who have influenced my professional outlook in many ways and made the journey so far a lot of fun.

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?
I’d say that print advertising is more visual now and TV advertising is more entertaining. Art-direction has always been important, it has simply followed the times. Aren’t we all glad execution is important?
As for clever versus intelligent, one brings a smile to the face and the other to the mind. Depends on what you’re in the mood for.

What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising versus TV? (one gets to see, on an average, better TV than Print)
I still get more of a thrill on reading/seeing a great print ad. But since they are few and far between, I think TV is faring better currently.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I generally get it shipped from

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market? I think you’ll find enough examples to support both sides of this argument.But for the moment let’s look at the glass half full and say Apple, Nike, Adidas, Playstation, Economist, etc.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit advertising?
Too many times. And yet here I am.

What makes a good Creative Director?
A mentor to talent. A tormentor to all opposed to it.
But seriously, a good CD inspires across the board.
From the trainee-visualiser to the client.

What are your views on Scam Advertising?
If scam ads genuinely raised the standard of everyday advertising, I’d be more in favour of them. But they haven’t so far.
A great scam ad might make you smile. But a great ‘real’ ad will instill your faith in advertising.
I am obviously talking about proactive ads which have run with the consent of the client.
I am against work which is run without the consent of the client, and let’s not even talk about work that’s entered without even running.

What would you like to say about the quality of advertising coming from Poland?
Some sparks, but not quite the Thailand or Brazil yet.

Any current work in Indian Advertising that you find exciting? Especially Print?
A few great gems on TV, undoubtedly. The last time I was in Delhi I heard some really entertaining fillers on Red FM. But print advertising… it’s really sad. Just open the newspaper and you’ll know what I mean (leave aside the last 15 days of December, that is.) There is so much talent in India, so how come it’s not there on paper?

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?
I don’t think it’s the client. The client never briefs you saying, “I don’t want illustrations in my ad.” (I am certain there will be exceptions to this rule). And I don’t feel it’s the illustrators because most of the illustrators I have worked with want to do something different.
Now you can fill in the blanks.

Are you sending anything to Cannes this year?
2 campaigns.

Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
My friends.

What’s on your iPod?
Some 18,000 tracks. Want a listing?

Mac or PC?
Both. Because in those Apple ads, PC gets my sympathy vote.

7 thoughts on “Neeraj Sabharwal : DesiCreative in Dubai

  1. Kiran says:

    what brands does EURO have in Dubai?

  2. Ganapathy says:

    Hi Neeraj,
    Are you looking for a senior writer with top-10 agency experience in bombay and dubai? I have 3 yrs experience and have 2 awards and 2 shortlists (CAG and LYNX) under my beIt. If you’d be interested in viewing my work and profile, send me a line on Thx.

  3. Neeraj says:

    Euro RSCG Dubai handles: Reckitt Benckiser [Dettol, Clearasil, Vanish (stain remover), Finish (dish-wash cleaner), Harpic, Easy-Off Bam! (kitchen cleaner) Mortein (pest repellent), Veet (Depilatory cream), Strepsils, Gaviscon (anti-heartburn), Lemsip (cold & flu)] * Air France * Peugeot * Jaguar * Saks 5th Avenue * Faces [beauty store] * Tanagra [luxury lifestyle retail] * Sanofi Aventis [pharma] * Evian * Volvic * Vie (Energy Drink) * Nasco Karaoglan (insurance) * Sephora (beauty store) * Davidoff * CK * etc.


  4. Tonya Osako says:

    Do you have a rss feed I can subscribe to? I looked around but couldn’t find it, thanks a ton in advance.

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