Why expat creative officers do not work in India?



It is not by ­­­accident that Indian advertising had very few expats or even none I must say given our size and importance of our market post liberalization. Compare this with countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines or even Japan, China or Korea all of them are equally sensitive to their culture and people. Why is that expat CD’s thrive in those countries? Why do global companies push for expats for local markets? I can understand expats doing global jobs, which are different from the local ones.

As I was saying in my earlier blogs, India is not one country, it’s several. It is extremely difficult even an Indian and a Telugu like me to understand the Punjabi and Corgi nuances, imagine a Manipuri creative director understanding the difference between a Palghat and Salem mindset. Now imagine an Australian or a half German trying to write for “chloromint alpenliebe ” or getting the “karwa chauth” sentiment right.

We may argue that good advertising is all about Ideas and universal emotions, and indeed they are. The difference I am pointing is the difference between “Slumdog” vs. “3 Idiots” vs. “Dabangg” vs. “Enthiran” vs. “Shankarabharanam”. I have not even mentioned or even aware of the relevance of Bengali, Marathi, Bhojpuri or Kannada films in the popular culture of our country. The one great thing Indian Creative leaders posses in abundance is patience. Apart from universal insights we patiently dig out local, cultural, regional, social economical, gender, ideological insights to connect with this 1.2 billion disconnected people.

My submission is simple. India is a complex country even for Indian to understand and it’s unfair to expect an expat to understand and connect with this country in an 18 months window. Even Mark Tully took many years to know this country.

Imagine a Balki or a Piyush or a Prasoon being replaced with an expat.

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