This is from my previous post, posted a couple of years back when Piyush was conferred “life time achievement award” by AAAI and now “Clio” announced that its going to honor our man, and I truly believe there is no person more deserving in the world advertising then him ( including Marcello Serpa.)
Excerpts from my previous post:
Piyush Pandey was recently been conferred AAAI lifetime achievement award, an honor usually reserved for retirees. Piyush is still a practicing creative person in short a working legend. He is Indian advertising’s greatest, I will place him above Subhas Ghosal, Alyque Padamsee and Mohammed Khan for simple reasons: he single-handedly changed the target audience from elite British Indians to middle class heartland bharatvasi’s. And also for putting Indian advertising amongst the global greats. (I had the privilege of working with all the above legends except Piyush.)
Above all he is one of the greatest human beings I have met in my career, what can you say? In this pseudo advertising and corporate world, where people hesitate to thank there wife for being an inspiration and support in public, this man brings his mother to the ceremony and proudly introduces her to all honchos present. I always admired people who do not hesitate to show respect for parents and family in public. I can not think of any other Ad-man doing that.
Piyush is a large-hearted man, loves his life enjoys every moment with a hearty laughter. I have never seen him crib about anything. This is what gets reflected in his work and also in his agency, always enjoys and celebrate life. As we at Burnett believe that “creativity has the power to transform human behavior” Piyush showered enough creativity to change the way common people behaved in this country, right from “Luna” finding a place in middle class India to nation celebrating the success of “Pappu” with Cadbury Dairy Milk to Railgaddi for Indian railways to celebrating real life characters in Fevicol.
He changed the way Indians looked at advertising, he had created many stars, gave new vocabulary, made people love advertising more than television programming. I can go on and on as an insider what he had done to the Industry and why he deserved the award and this blog.
Today Hindus celebrate the festival of “Ganesh Chaturti”, where Lord Ganesh was made head of all deities by his father Lord Shiva, religion apart, Ganesh the half elephant- half human, short, fat and has rat (rodent) as his vehicle is the most loved god in India, he cuts across all religious and physical boundaries. In Bangkok or Barampur no business is conducted without worshiping him, similarly there is no child in the sub-continent who can not draw Ganesha. His physical appearance and his stature as god of gods and his victory over his smart brother made him as an identifiable hero with kids. And growing up with this affinity is what makes him the favorite amongst the creative people. Like kids there is no poet, writer, painter or a caricaturist who had not dabbled with this lovable god’s image. Great painters right from Raja Ravi Varma to M F Hussain all were fascinated by him which is evident from their work.
The greatest contribution to Lord Ganesha came from the much celebrated Calendar art of Shivakasi a small town in Tamilnadu. Today Shivakasi is the second largest printing capital of the world only after Gutenberg of Germany what started as a backyard litho printing units of British India, developed into rich hindu calendar art/ film poster studios to present day offset.
As a child I used to make clay Ganesha for the festival celebrations, now my daughter follows the tradition.
Or is he a different type?
In hatred he saw love. In fear, courage. In weakness he saw strength. And in violence, truth. In cruelty he saw kindness. In anger he saw humanity. And in struggle, he saw peace. He saw things through his soul that are invisible to the eye. Yet through his eyes, we can still see the shining light of humanity. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. A different type.
Above are the words came out of Agnello Dias when I told him about my intention to create a font for Gandhi.
” There is no god higher than truth.” is what he said and is what got imprinted in my mind ever since I was a little boy, my grand parents always told me stories of Gandhi at bedtime, I am still a vegetarian thanks to the impression he made on me. I am just a spec in billions who follow him. Once he said “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
When Indian Industrialist Vijay Mallya salvaged the pride of a nation by bringing back the priced possession of a man who owned nothing. The day New York auctioneer announced auctioning of Mahatma’s spectacles the nation put her head down in shame, as embarrassed Indian government’s desperate attempts to stall the action failed, Mallya’s $1.8 millon came to the rescue.
His glasses has a deep significance to all Indians, when he gave away the glasses in 1930’s to an army colonel he said ” these gave me vision to free India”. Today as we live in a free India we still are slaves to violence, terrorism, untouchability, communalism and many more evils. A young nation celebrates holiday on his birthday than his wisdom as Nitesh Tiwari one of our copywriters put it.
How do we make him and his vision relevant and how do we make people try to see the world through his eyes? Than the Idea of a typeface created out of his glasses came about.
Typographers from Leo Burnett went on to create this marvelous Gandhiji font in Devanagari and the team is working overtime to launch english and other Indian languages.( an up-date:English, Devnagari, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada are available ) The website went live last night http://www.gandhijifont.com
What’s the best way to keep Gandhi’s spectacles away from auctioneers than this?
Resisting change is in human nature. Well in marketing terms I could be classified as an enthusiast or an early adopter. People take their own time to adapt to new things, because familiarity with the old gives us solace hence adoption curve will take time to climb as in the case of digital photography. Every photographer worth his salt resisted the digital formats till Hasselblad and Sinar came up with digital backs, even I resisted till Nikon D90 happened.
Purist will resist the “bastardisation” of any art form. Human talent and craft rules supreme any intervention by machines or non-human is believed to contaminate art. Each art moment faced this challenge be it Cubism, Dadaism or Expressionism. This divine Apple’s intervention will also have its fair bit of resistance from purist. Never before the digital software gave the gratification of real painting experience, where technology is invisible. Thanks to the touch screen and tablet format, suddenly one gets instant gratification of drawing or painting.
I have never tried to create art using digital technology in my life till iPhone happened a year ago, where I downloaded an app called “Fountain Pen” which allowed me to scribble on the screen, I loved it but never took it as serious art, while my friends from Twitter and Facebook insisted that indeed it was, when shared. When I picked up my iPad last December on my son’s insistence to watch You Tube Videos and ads, I discovered many silly drawing apps which did not interest me till I stumbled upon “Art Rage” which blew my mind, it was like a live TED video and magic unfolding every second. I looked at havens and adopted “Art Rage” instantaneously.
What magic did iPad and Art Rage did on me?
As I said before iPad gave me the gratification of real drawing and painting and further iPad allows me to carry my studio with me almost every where like a mobile phone. Art Rage gave a complete studio of 2000 square feet with innumerable capacity to store canvases both painted and new, hundreds of tubes of colors free with infinite shades, entire sets of hog hair and sable hair brushes, palate and painting knifes, rollers etc, etc, all this lifetime supplies for a meager $7.00.
Nothing is more tempting to a soccer player then seeing a still ball, and same is true to an artist, give an artist a white paper and ask him/her not to scribble? Materials tempted me to carry on painting especially the oils, all this without the hassle of cleaning or arranging. I painted close to 70-75 canvases in less than 40 days and did around 200 charcoal sketches, all this in normal process would have taken almost couple of years, what does this say to us? At an average time of 3 hours for each painting it make you more prolific than any one can ever imagine!
Technology is not helping art it’s just helping the artist, you still need to be a trained artist to paint even on a dame tablet. Prolific art may cause a supply surplus in the market but on the other hand artist may actually see some money while they are alive.
Had anyone ever guessed that one can score 300 runs in 20 overs?
Everyone needs to reinvent him or herself every now and then to make him or her relevant to the changing environment around us. Human needs or brand needs, business needs or even nations are no different from each other.
Early nineties were the most frenziest times I have ever seen in my 33 odd years in advertising. Opening-up of economy, Microsoft & Google revolution, satellite television, Infosys vision and Ganguly’s audacity transformed a timid nation to the most ambitious one in the world today. This change had its own impact on Indian advertising. Good old boy’s comfort zone of 15% commission had come into close scrutiny, lazy bum’s were thrown out, Microsoft and Adobe replaced proofreaders and cut-paste artist, kickbacks were officialized as negotiations and media buyers emerged as new heroes for clients and villains for traditional agencies.
In short 15% been reduced to 10% to the traditional agency and 5% went to media thereby separating media from creative. Today traditional agency is been reduced to just a creative agency for television scripts, clients buy media planning, media buying, digital planning, digital buying, mobile, events, promo, direct, PR, consumer research, insight mining, brand strategy, design even stock images and film production are bought directly.
While the theory of specialization sounded good and arguments of rupee efficiencies were appreciated, clients across the world were caught in a new dilemma, while brand managers can deal with creative TV scripts and brand strategy rest needed specialists (who never existed) Today most of the clients have 10 specialist dealing with content and contact management, while stand alone performances of each vertical is spectacular, collectively they added up to nothing as far as the brand’s emotional equities are concerned hence the emergence of IMC leaders in MNC clients ( Integrated Marketing Communications) who are seeking a single point to orchestrate brand communications. Today it is not surprising to see agencies like Crispin or Droga 5, even our very own Creativeland Asia or TapRoot flourishing as they are offering integrated solutions and orchestration of ideas as opposed to TV scripts by partnering with medium specialist. If big agencies do not get it yet god help them, smaller ones will gulp them and digest them in no time.
Agencies need to go back to 20 years and get champions of ideas. Today what independent small media neutral \ new age media agencies are doing is nothing different from old agencies approach of Integrated solutions to brand communication and orchestration of brand ideas in all mediums.
DeBundeled verticals are getting bundled again in smaller integrated agencies and hope the big ones are listening.
What the heck if pretty girls call me Pops? What’s the fuch if people think I was born in the same year as Zora Sehgal ? What the hell if people try to find similarities between Balki, and me thinking that I am his Pops? What the shet if Arvind Sharma’s driver introduces me as his saheb’s “papaji” ?
It’s not easy being Pops. Yes. It’s not easy to be Big B’s Popsji, Chennai’s Mr.Pops, Miss Universe Sushmita Sen’s Pops, Chiranjeevi’s Pops garu, Balki’s Pops & Tweetaratti’s kvpops. “Baap re” its difficult to take loads of affection, respect and love.
“Pops” made Kondiparthi Venkata Sridhar a brand, and proved to the world, power of naming and branding. Imagine Mr. kondiparthiji. What did I do to deserve to be called Pops?
In early 90’s when Chax and I joined Lintas as creative heads of one of their Bombay units, Alyque Padamsee was at his wittiest best when he hired an ex- military Major as chief administrator. Now one can imagine the hierarchy and bureaucracy ruling the floors of Express towers.
In such an office there was a quite shy-ish six-foot young copywriter named Sridhar existed. Since the culture did not allow bosses to be nicknamed, poor little baby-faced Sridhar was christened as “Baby Sridhar” and me, months later by default became “Papa Sridhar” and then came a livewire called Asha Rishi an account executive who started calling me Pops.
By virtue of my personality people felt it’s an apt description of me. Chax my partner in crime need to take some blame for not resenting in fact he started a chain of jokes on Pops. Around mid 90’s advertising and marketing media suddenly became big and they took up the mission of making Pops stick in people’s heads.
In old day advertising guys used be real characters with some quirkiness, Alyque with his diction, Kersy with his suspenders, Chax with his Gandhi glass and signature beard, Piyush with his handlebar mustache, Prahlad with his cigars and hat, since I had none, “Pops” helped me to be remembered.
All jokes apart, the changes that came along with the name Pops are: made me look wiser, acquire patience, forced me to listen to people and lend my shoulder, made me stop leching at young girls once they call you Pops. Convinced me to adopt young talented kids and above all reminds me to make my bucket list every morning.
As the cliché’ goes: the rest is history.
( Written specially for Impact magazine.)
After a public outcry on the social media, “GAP” withdrew its modern logo and brought back classic blue box. Couple of days back Airtel launched its new logo and again it’s the social media, which has been critical, harsh and unkind, before we get into merits and demerits of the opinions, lets look at what goes behind designing a logo and how to judge one. Because consumer outcry is one thing industry peers is another thing.
To be fair I just want to gently remind our tweeting and status-updating judges the parameters to judge a good logo and view the design in the context of a telecom brand. Iconic logos have a simple yet magical qualities of evoking an emotional response in you for instance when you look at the golden arches of McDonalds you feel happy and hungry at the same time. Ever thought why this happens? It’s the colors, which does the trick. Yellow arches make you smile while the red McDonald’s background makes you feel hungry. It’s unbelievably true that the color red makes your blood pressure soar and also makes you feel hungry.
When you judge a logo you need to keep five simple things in mind:
Symbolism: The symbol used should signify and communicate something about the brand’s ambition or vision in a clearly identifiable way while keeping the historic, cultural and category relevance in mind.
Style: The style should communicate the personality or functionality or special attributes of the brand like: indoor, outdoors, cleanly, orderly, open, friendly or a closet.
Typography: Type should communicate certain feel and vision of the brand. Type should tell you weather the brand is stiff or flexible, bold or fragile, feminine or masculine and so on in an instant way.
Relationship: The graphics, icons, type and color used should have a relationship with the target group and company values, goals or aspirations.
Color: Colors used should represent and relate to the business and its aspirations. Color should communicate the intended message or emotion instantly.
Now lets keep these parameters and look at some telecom logos thru my point of view (not the creator’s):
Vodafone: Uses speech mark as a symbol to communicate about the brands ambition. Needless to say how simple it is for the people to comprehend and connect with the brand and the category. Styling of the graphics is near perfect to represent the preciseness with its orderly alignments and placements. Typography is bold, confidant yet very friendly with its lowercase usage. Red is the color of passion and action provides energy and excitement to the brand. Overall all the elements are used to perfection and a classic example of art and science of design coming together. Logo designed by Brand Union.
Uninor: Inspired by nature and its role in innovation in Scandinavian culture this propeller like symbol was designed to communicate the delicate balance of movement and change. Uses a very purposeful tranquility feeling by delicately designing the symbol and the typography. Very delicate thin san serif font used to enhance Scandinavian design esthetics. White, blue and black are used in the identity to enhance the “Inspired by nature” feel.
Docomo: Uses its name that means “every where “in Japanese (DOKOMO) this logo designed for the Indian market to communicate “Do the new” hence fun typo design keeping in line with the brand promise. Styled to perfection to connect with youth and VAS users. Graphics are designed for flexibility to be used freely. Colors are young and vibrant bring in fun and energy. This logo keeps the evolution of the consumers in mind to bring in flexibility for co-creation by the consumers. Designed by Wolff Olins of London.
Airtel: Uses alphabet “A” in lowercase in a very causal yet dynamic way, spiraling “a” almost gives you a feeling of a tornado, generating lots of kinetic energy. Styled in a vibrant youthful way to communicate to the changing Indian consumers. Typography is youthful and inviting by using lowercase and reiterating its values of friendly approachable service. Color red used for depicting energy and passion of the brand. Designed by Brand Union again.
Designing or judging logos is a very difficult task especially for telecom, which deals with more interfaces and touch points than an airline. Redesigning and implementing a new identity is a mammoth task, takes months to reach every circle leave alone the streets. While the new Airtel logo may just have fallen short of critic’s expectations, it may well create enough excitement in the market, who cares for critics who are interested in what could have been done and in the missed opportunity? When people embrace the change with open arms.
Hope we can fill in the “GAPs”
Sometime I feel ashamed to introduce myself as creative, Ad guys are the most pompous lot they alone title themselves as creative. Tell me who is not creative? Engineers who design innovative combustion chambers are not creative? Con men of Mumbai who run ticketless travel insurance are not creative? Mothers who invent new ways of giving concocted medicine to kids are not creative?
All of us are creative and talented in our own way but than why some succeed? What does it take to be a successful creative person in advertising? Is it the ability to write, think or connect? Or is there something above all this?
Indeed there is.
As kids all of us have painted, played some sport or other, sang songs, danced to the tunes of Jackson, made interesting faces in front of mirrors, wrote poetry to impress girlfriends\boyfriends and told cock and bull stories with innovative twist, didn’t we?
It’s all about relentless pursuit of chasing what we enjoy most, if we were to continue to paint may be if not MF Husain at least we would have become a Laxma Goud, If not Sachin at least a Parthiv Patel isn’t it?
Now coming to the point, What if didn’t chase any of the above and what if we didn’t grow-up at all? Simple. We would become a successful adman. Yes indeed “Enthusiasm” is key to success in advertising that too child like enthusiasm! At 55 can you get excited about motion control games? At 45 can you get excited about two extra spark plugs in an engine’s combustion chambers? Can you get excited about milk proteins in toilet soap?
I believe if you are excited you can excite anyone exactly the effect a kid can have on you if you are watching Powerpuff girls for the 20th time. If you don’t get a hard-on when you discover that your product is 0.3% better than the competition than you are not on.
Apart from your ability to write, visualize, tell a story, use experiences and observations from life, your zest for life is as important. If you can connect like a grand mom, posses crooked ways to find a solution and have a relentless urge to remain in the limelight like a superman than it’s your turn to be an adman.
Did I say “Chaddi-man?”
Planning has been a child of misery in India since its inception three decades ago. Account Planning: the most misunderstood and abused word in advertising and marketing.
Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout started changing things in strategic planning and consumer targeting in advertising in early eighties. From sheer number of brand recalling exercises to salesman copy to funny jokes to lifestyle semiotics’ to UPS’s; advertising was on a superlative & superiority claim trip. Focus began to shift from manufactures to consumers. Advertising agencies needed to acquire new knowledge to stay ahead thus Account Planning was invented from the rubble’d egos of strategic thinkers or overpaid management graduates.
First animal of such kind to descend on Indian Advertising was: King “Sattar Khan”. He was the first official “Account Planner” in India. JWT than HTA was the first agency to see the future of consumerism in this country and the power, potentially people can posses in controlling brands. Thompson Plan started questioning: where are we in the market? to where are we in the mind?
This shift in thinking lead to an influx of planners in India and every agency worth its salt was in a hurry to appoint account planners and start the planning department to get this unknown advantage. This hasty turn of events lead to insecurity amongst account directors thereby confusion over the territorial powers prevailed. Hostile welcome by account guys made planners align themselves with less insecure creative guys. The cold war still continues between Planning and account guys not understanding each other roles. Mind you in 80’s agencies had many services including media planning, media buying, research both qualitative and quantitative, data analysis so on so forth. Accounts guys were like ring leaders controlling all this information and therefore by default they were the knowledge leaders or strategic thinkers.
The untimely coincidence of de-bundling of advertising services and so-called planning thinkers reduced the power of account guys. Therefore planners were never welcomed. On the other hand planners for the first time started to have a conversation with creative on the softer aspects of human beings and their behavior. This common interest bonded creative and planning together, as planning started to power creative’s with human insights, creative’s started to create brands like Taj Mahal Tea, Asian Paints, Hero Honda , Cadbury’s and Iodex’s in this country. This nexus between creative and planning produced some of the most powerful advertising in Indian history in the 90’s.
I was one of the few fortunate one’s to work with legendary planning minds like Sattar Khan, Dharen Chedda, Anand Halve, Pranesh Mishra and Rajeev Sharma. I owe most of my success to them.
But 2000’s had a very different story to unfold. As consumer insight planning became significant, cleverer creative guys started to generate and use their own insights, which marginalized planners contribution and last decade also saw creative’s taking leadership roles and therefore over ruling planners intuitive thinking. Today planners are back to the same point, as they were in late eighties not wanted whole-heartedly as creative’s feel they could generate insights.
Now the point is planners are selfless guys represent the consumers or people’s voice, which in reality no agency is interested in. Planning job is a bit like KBC every one thinks they know it.
It is unfortunate that in an era, which is termed as people’s era, has very little respect for the people who understand people. Only glimmering hope are the creative leaders and visionary marketers who can save this dying precious breed called “Account Planners”
Believe you me; Planners are creative director’s creative directors.
When I googled “Tiger”, I got more info on Tiger Woods than Bengal tiger. I grew-up with zoos and circuses, I had no awareness or guilt in watching and marveling at captive animals. My children are different, they are more aware of environmental issues than me as a kid, thanks to their schooling, teachers and media. They refuse to see animals in zoos and circuses; I had to buy bluray “Planet Earth” series for them to watch animals up-close.
I visited Sunderban National Park and Tiger Reserve in West Bengal, last weekend with my son. At last I wanted to fulfill my desire to show my son a tiger in its natural habitat than much hated zoos. Sunderbuns is a vast delta with confluence of three great Indian rivers: Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna spanning over 10,000 sq kms with exquisite waterways, mudflats and numerous small mangrove islands.
I had been psyching my kid to be patient in spotting an animal (as he was set with his 200mm zoom camera to click panthera tigris tigris), our hired boat sailed hours together without any luck of spotting any other animal apart from monkeys, after six hours our guide from the forest department declared that the water tide was too high for the tigers or for that matter any animal to come out and advised us to visit in winter mornings as the animals come out toward the waters to sun bath and as the tide is usually low in the mornings. Helplessly we headed back.
Project Tiger was launched in 1972 to conserve the nation symbol from extinction. According to my well-informed forest guide tiger population in the country came down from 3642 in 1990 to present 1411. As per the legend he adds there were over 100,000 tigers in the world a century ago. With hung jaws we listened to the expert of the world’s largest tiger populated forest.
When I posted our status of not spotting a tiger on the Facebook; one of my friends responded by saying “Pops you may not have spotted a tiger but certainly it would have spotted you” This comment left me thinking whether I should have taken my son to this fenced mangrove islands to see the most precious and endangered species at all? Why can’t we let them live the way they are meant to live? Why this voyeurism?
Last night we were lisining to David Attenborough again.
When I got married and moved to Bangalore my 70-year-old landlord and his 65-year-old wife were waiting for us at the bungalow we hired to bless us. My one week old wife was happy that a couple who were married for over 40 years are blessing us.
Little we knew that the secret they were about to share would change our lives. The couple asked us “who’s decision was it to move to Bangalore?” I gleamingly said 50:50 pointing both of us. The couple took us aside and shared the secret: “ Partnership is not about being 50:50, it’s to know when to be 30 and when to be 70.”
Like in life even at work this principle works brilliantly. Good partnerships thrive on pushing each other and to know when to push and when not to. Like spouses, partners do not have to be politically correct or worry about emotions at that point in time.
Such successful partnerships in advertising in India are: Chax & Pops (me). Piyush Pandey & Sonal Debral, Neville & Josy Paul, Naveed & Freddy, late Mahesh & Rajiv and now Aggi & Paddy.
Forging a partnership allows you to have mutual trust and respect, I have had forged many in my career which helped me in creating iconic work apart from Chax the significant ones are with Balki at Lowe, Agnello at Lowe and leo Burnett, Arvind Sharma & Rajeev Sharma at Leo Burnett, Ramathkar started at Enterprise in 90’s and still continuing, Ganesh Mahalingam at LG. Dharen Chedda at JWT.
Partnerships are like friendships: “selfless” all the time, this allows you to accept any criticism or ideas with equal enthusiasm. Usually we think clients, bosses, celebrity filmmakers and film and sports stars are monsters and are out to get your life like “Yamdharmaraj”, which is fortunately not true.
Ganesh Mahalingam of LG used to approve scripts on phone and sms’s which allowed us to create over 50 commercials in a calendar year to take the brand LG over 3000 corers. Look at Rajiv Rao and Varma their partnership is creating magic for their band and consumers, Piyush & Prasoon created magic on Fevicol as siblings often do. Balki’s partnership with Amitabh Bachchan is proving to be as potent as Saleem & Javeed of 70’s.
Partnerships can also help in strange ways as Balki’s youth did to me; I had difficult time to match up to his energy levels. No wonder people say never marry a girl half your age…
Now that I stand exposed of my crimes and partners. Amen.