"I am the playing captain of a team called Ogilvy"

Written by Pritha Mitra Dasgupta | Updated: Sep 1 2010, 04:30am hrs
Piyush Pandey, the executive chairman and creative director, India and South Asia, Ogilvy and Mather (O&M) has been instrumental in discovering and nurturing some of the brightest minds in the Indian advertising industry.

In the past two decades, Pandey has not only created the most memorable advertising campaigns, but has mentored bright sparks such as Josy Paul, Prasoon Joshi, Pushpinder Singh, Ramanuj Shastry, Sagar Mahabalesh-warkar, Sonal Dabral, V Sunil who either worked with or under him.

In a interview with the big man himself, FE's Pritha Mitra Dasgupta understands the institution called Piyush Pandey. Edited excerpts:

Ranjan Kapur joined O&M in 1994 and of the many significant changes he made he promoted you as the creative director (CD). What was the immediate mandate given to you

When Ranjan took over as managing director of Ogilvy India in January 1994, he made a wonderful statement which defined the course of history for us. He said, We want to be the best at the back of a great creative product. I think that was a huge licence for me to go out and bat.

O&M appears to be driven more by its creative department than servicing. Was it the same when you joined the agency in 1982 or did you initiate this

I do not think that our servicing department is any less than the creative department. Over the years, AC Nielsen studies and other industry reports have rated Ogilvy as the number one agency in all aspects of our business including creative, servicing, planning and others.

We believe all of us work towards the same common objective, which is generating a great creative product and great success for our client's brands.

You are associated with a number of landmark advertising campaigns. But you are also known for mentoring many in the advertising world. Was it a conscious effort

Yes, we are consciously looking for good people. We give them the opportunity to express themselves. We work together as a team. And today when I see so many of them leading their respective com-panies, it gives me immense joy.

Was it hard when many of the big names in O&M left the agency Did you try to hold them back

I am extremely proud of all of them. It is never easy to let go of good people and yes, each time I do my best to hold them back.

But beyond a certain point you have to control your emotions, just like a bird does when its babies learn to fly and make their own nests.

How do you select creative talent for the agency Do you personally train them

Retaining talent for the agency is a collective responsibility of the senior members of our team. We keep an eye on youngsters who are doing well, or freshers who show enough passion for this business. Yes, Ogilvy has always believed in training and there's a training process which is followed. However, I strongly believe that the best training happens on the job. They will learn faster if they are put to work with proven talent in the agency.

We look for talent with brains and we look for passion, hunger, bravery and a good sense of humour.

Is there an O&M way of training people

The O&M way of training people is to embrace them, back them and encourage them.

At the Portfolio Night event organised by O&M, you were cheering youngsters hailing from small towns. Any particular reason

Portfolio Night was wonderful and I think all the creative directors from the industry found it as energising as I did.

I did not make any conscious effort to single out people from smaller towns and cities. However, it was heartening to see the participation of non-metro youngsters. I think they bring in a lot of freshness and simplicity to the party.

What is your take on conventional-versus-new media platforms Does creativity need to evolve along with changes in media consumption

The question is not conventional-versus-new media. I think conventional media is here to stay, and new media needs to be embraced.

If we are able to learn the new media and apply the same levels of creativity to it as we do for conventional media, it will be a win-win situation.

What is your take on the creative quotient of the Indian advertising industry

I think as a country our work is much better than many other countries. It is therefore not a surprise that our audiences love advertising a lot more than many countries in the West where advertising is generally looked at with a lot of cynicism.

Whats the strategy to keep O&M on the top

At Ogilvy there are two ways in which we constantly try and prepare ourselves. The first is, never to lose sight of our creative product which must always be top-class. For that, we have to keep our people energised constantly and keep the search for fresh young minds going at all times. In addition, we have to look at new media with openness and enthusiasm. We have recently appointed Kunal Jeswani, one of our superstars as the head of Ogilvy One. And apart from other aspects of this business, one of his primary mandates is to ensure a great digital set-up.

Over the years, in many interviews you have used a lot of cricketing jargon to answer questions about the advertising business. How would you describe yourself in cricketing lingo

I am the playing captain of a team called Ogilvy.