Harihar Goswami is a creative professional oscillating between BTL and ATL campaigns for brands across the corporate spectrum. Currently working as a Creative Director at QED Communications, he transcends between the roles of a Copywriter, Director and Creative Director with ease and an ‘occasional’ lack of punctuality.
“I’m a bag of mixed popcorn – an advertiser for the butter, a poet for the cheese and a filmmaker for the salt! People around me will tell you that I’m someone who thinks everybody else is wrong and only I am right. They are wrong.
Politically opinionated, emotionally driven, humorously grumpy and chaotically organized – I could go on and on but eventually my list of catchphrases will run out and I still would not know how to describe myself.“
Why are you into advertising?
Well, it’s the closest you can get to becoming an artist without actually being paid like one. Atleast that’s how it started for sure!
Did you attend school for fine art or communications?
Filmmaking has been my dream from the beginning, and that’s how I ended up joining a communications institute in Delhi. Studied for a year, realized filmmaking or as a matter of fact – any form of creative expression cannot be taught – and decided to drop out!
How do awards impact your career as an advertising creative?
Personally, I could not care less, as I don’t think awards in advertising make sense. We are driven by client needs and our job is to do what’s best for the brand – and that more often than not, is not the most creative! If anything, awards should be decided by a spike in product sales!
Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Absolutely not. I think it’s the other way round – brands that do well in the market end up making campaigns that win awards – because they can afford to be more creative!
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Not really. I haven’t ever been someone who looks up to people for inspiration. I love the work of a lot of people, across arts, but no role models for me.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in advertising?
Not too sound clichéd, but every single person I’ve worked with in a professional space has influenced me to an extent. From Brand Managers to Ad Filmmakers, from Creative Directors to Copywriters, from Graphic Designers to PR Professionals – every single person can add value to your ideas – as long as you know what to listen to and what not to!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everything! The old saying goes that you need to be a sponge to be a good creative = it doesn’t get more real than that!
Individuals, internet, industry and I – I need all of this for a good idea. And then, that click – that moment when you realize you’ve cracked something. Nothing comes close to that feeling. And that’s my inspiration.
Tell us something about the work environment at your agency…
Chaotically organized. We are a client driven agency, and considering the fact that we work across platforms and spectrums for a range of diverse clients, our work culture is dominated primarily by… well, work.
Apart from being an advertising creative, you are also an accomplished performer. Tell us more about that side of you…
I am a regular poet but a sporadic performer (thanks to the work culture I referred to above). Although I write in both English and Hindi/Urdu – Hindustani shayari is what gives me real joy. Shayari, Ghazals, Nazms – my pieces vary in terms of format and topics – politics, love, philosophy, and more often than not, a mix of everything.
The pen gives me voice. The microphone gives me volume. And ‘irshaad’!
Tell us something about a brand building advertising campaign from India you admire a lot.
One recent one I absolutely love is ‘Eat 5 Star, Do Nothing’. In this age of random call-to-actions and so called integrated campaigns, a brand coming up and asking you to literally not do anything is a refreshing change and fits in perfectly with 5 Star!
But one of my all-time favourites is this little lesser known Mentos Campaign – Absurd, quirky, to the point and what a wonderful way to run a contest! 7 years ago!
What do you think of the state of Print Advertising right now? At least here in India, the work is most often too sad?
I unfortunately cannot disagree. Print Advertising is crying for an innovation – not only in terms of how we communicate, but also in terms of the medium in itself. And I think very soon, AR is going to change the way we look at print advertising forever. I just hope it comes in soon enough!
Any notable digital campaigns?
Personally, I think Dove and Durex are two brands that consistently hit the mark with their communication. The reason I’m not mentioning a particular campaign here is because more so now than ever, I’m convinced that a ‘campaign’ as a concept is getting outdated, and sustained, fast, topical yet uniform communication is the only way forward.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
First up, be DRIVEN. Only join the field because you’re passionate about it. Without passion you will not survive here.
Second, REBEL. Question norms, traditional ways of working and ask questions.
Third, ABSORB. And by that I mean keep your ears and eyes open. Value opinions, take suggestions, constantly be on the lookout for the new.
And lastly, DO WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT. Out of the 4, this is the only one that’s important!
What is your dream project?
The next one. Always.
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
The farmers of this country. They are starving.
(Now give me the Miss India Crown!)
What’s on your IPod/Spotify?
Literally every form of music there is. Indian Folk, Western Folk, Western Classical, Jazz, Ghazals, Hip-Hop, Bollywood, House, Trance, EDM, Pop, Punjabi, Indie and so much more.
Currently shuffling between Foy Vance, Ludovico Einaudi and Mehdi Hassan.
What’s your Twitter Handle/Instagram?
Twitter – @harihar_goswami
Instagram – @harihargoswami
Harry was Creative Director on this content piece for Moov as well.: “Moov India With Its Initiative, #MakeYourMoov Challenge Is Spreading A Wave Of Fitness Inspiration In The Country”