Madhura Chakravarty: In A Chat With An Advertising Creative

Balancer of work & life. Solo traveller. Team player.

Madhura Chakravarty is presently the Associate Creative Director of Monkey Wrench Communications in Kolkata. After a stint at Ogilvy & Mather in Delhi & Kolkata, Madhura realised she’s cut out for a hot-shop that is disciplined to create effective communication even on business cards. After working with brands like Vodafone, Greenply, ITC, Linc Pens, Polar Fans & more, she’s currently aiming to adapt the concept of ‘ikigai’ in life.

Why are you into Advertising?
Honestly, I enjoy the format of advertising which is largely story-telling for me first and then of course followed by brand building. Who doesn’t remember good stories? We remember our exchanges with co-riders, churan-wallahs and our grandmothers in greater detail than our lectures. An engaging narrative is certainly more memorable than a brand’s product window. It helps humanize a brand’s voice while building personality.

Advertising has the allowance of people from diverse backgrounds to arrive at a single platform and work towards a big idea – guitarists, CA professionals, professors, theatre artists – thus empowering the birth of a compelling story together.

I was very clear about being a copywriter after a group project in communication school demanded each of us to write a script on selling dark chocolate. The innumerable ways of selling chocolate to a teenager from 90 odd minds was a fascinating experience that went on to prove the collective power of many minds!

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I graduated with English Honours (B.A) from Loreto College in Kolkata and then moved on to Commits, Bangalore to attain a Masters Degree in Marketing & Communication.

How did you get your first job in advertising?
That’s an interesting story. I think most of my peers had already settled in with their first pay cheque and I was still being choosy about internship opportunities. I got in touch with the very wonderful Bodhisatwa Dasgupta at Ogilvy & Mather in Delhi, who was the first to offer my first break if I may add dramatically. My initial task was to prepare a portfolio for him where I had to collect a bunch of bad ads and rewrite them in two days. He was a fantastic mentor who not only hired me in my dream agency but also taught me not to get too serious about everything. I think I need that reminder once in a while and working in advertising invites that reminder from people hailing from different cultures, bearing unique personalities and quirks who offer this incredible balance between fun & discipline in a team.

How do awards impact your career in advertising?
I’ve not been much of an awards-oriented person. While yes, metals do define bigger designations, fancier offices and a fatter pay cheque, I’ve chosen work-life balance to be my award for life.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not necessarily. In today’s times what wins is honesty. I feel that is supreme and should definitely be on every marketing routine. Being honest and brave is a mark of a brand that’s listening, sustaining, growing and certainly isn’t afraid of being socially transparent. A stance like that influences and inspires the market to believe in the brand. And in times like Covid-19, thinking brands will surely identify the importance of truthfulness. As Albert Einstein says, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Well, The Copy Book was my daily bible. The inimitable Neil French and David Ogilvy were my invisible mentors. I used to imitate their writing style a lot. Especially the usage of the word ‘poppycock’ so articulately used by Neil French in his writings.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
That certainly has to be Piyush Pandey. He is the true example of how the best of ideas can be found in our daily observations. And the process of research doesn’t entail Google but travelling and staying close to our soil. The success of each and every Fevicol ad scripted by him is proof of that.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I seek my inspiration from people. Especially relatives. The way they eat, the way they dance, the way the most revered aunt of the household nods in approval of the groom. People are the most fascinating species in the world. Emotional, funny, unimaginable, inspiring, silly, motivating – every description matches the quality of a memorable print ad or television commercial. I attend one wedding and return with 10 tvc ideas.

Tell us something about the work environment at your agency…
I’m currently working with Monkey Wrench Communications in Kolkata. We are a communication & design studio that is made of people who value peace of mind over deadlines. We are a small team of happy and diverse individuals who bring great lunch as a daily reminder of prosperity!

Do you have any kind of a program to nurture and train young talent?
Each intern who comes to work at Monkey Wrench is given a unique prescription. Just how all symptoms aren’t the same and need a specific pill, similarly judging by their strengths & interests, we nurture them with the correct measure of strategy, creative development and marketing techniques. However, we do have a very consistent rule of judging creativity by placing the task of ‘evening snacks’ on our interns. Trust me, they learn a lot. To think of a new snack daily for gluttons is a tricky brief.

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?
Direct advertising is the name of the game at present! The faster you are able to talk about your product effectively without the need of a third line that says “introducing the…” defines the brand’s motive clearly.

Agreed, some of the work that is released may not require the addition of the word “poppycock” but that’s the beauty of the field anyway. I wouldn’t call it sad. Our consumers are changing everyday, their needs have moved on to soaps & sanitizers now more than the desire of that beautifully wrapped dark chocolate. This is not the time to talk about freshly chopped capscium and mozzarella in captivating visual language but to tell consumers upfront that no pizza is touched by human hands once it’s cooked. Consumers are vouching for brands that are voicing a direct and authentic tone of communication with them.

Any notable digital campaigns?
We worked on an interesting digital campaign called #BreakTheTaboo with athlete and brand ambassador Hima Das for a sanitary napkin brand called Titlee. The campaign was released on World Menstrual Hygiene Day and had men as brand ambassadors who led the movement. Even in this decade, the word “periods” is mentioned in a hush-hush tone. In fact, the subject is limited to the women’s forum only. Based on a survey we discovered that men are still hesitant to purchase sanitary napkins for their sister/partner from a chemist shop or in fact discuss the hormonal or bodily repercussions of menstruation. Which is why the real taboo breaking began when men became the prime faces of the campaign.

Recently, we also wrote and conceptualised a digital film that placed our frontline warriors of education – our teachers – to the forefront who literally transitioned from traditional teaching methods to online teaching overnight. Our digital film #NoLockdownForEducation for Supra Pens received an overwhelming response worldwide on social media and digital platforms.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Travel. No bucket-list is needed.

What is your dream project?
To start a glorious breakfast joint one day where we serve big, hearty meals at leisure. Sadly, we do not value the most important meal of the day. In fact, there is no time to sit and enjoy the bliss of a mango. Given a chance, I’d certainly strive to build a new eating culture where the importance of chewing is taught over gulping. And what better time than 7.30 am in the morning?

Mac or PC?
Writers only need Microsoft Word.
Even a paper napkin will do actually.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Brian Weiss. His book “Many lives, many masters” left quite an impact on me. I do have a list of questions for him.

What’s on your iPod? Spotify?
None of that. I’m a proud owner of the Mini Saregama Carvaan. So, there’s lots of Kishore, Rafi and Lata playing. I usually prefer old school company.

What’s your Twitter Handle? Instagram?
I usually have more than 140 characters to say. My instagram handle is madhura181.

Supra Pens : #NoLockdownForEducation
Linc Pen – Kismat Badlo
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty
Madhura Chakravarty

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