Rewriting Rules Of The Game

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
The photographer shoots him from all angles. Long shots, close ups. Dont publish my pictures with a cigarette in my mouth. My mother will be upset, says the gung-ho and very upbeat Piyush Pandey, group president and national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), to the photographer. He won the Golden Lion at the Cannes Festival for his anti-smoking campaign! Is he a mamas boy or is he being sensitive Mr Pandey smiles his all-encompassing grin that reaches his eyes.

So smoke Mr Pandey will, despite his copy against smoking He laughs. No, no. I am a bit of an overdoer about everything in life. I work hard, party hard. I smoke too much. But I am trying to kick this habit for a long while now. If I am motivated enough, I will be able to do it, he says decidedly.

His simplicity, despite the tremendous success that hes got, is something rather striking. Of course, what is also very striking is his sense of humour. So, is humour in his ads a deliberate attempt I never plan to be funny. The humour that someone sees in my copy is an extension of myself. What my life is gets reflected in the work I do. I do believe that a message which is delivered in an entertaining manner is enjoyable not only to the listener/viewer/ reader but also to me when I am doing it. It is fun. I have always believed that this is not a job.

The loud laughter that accompanies most of his talk is a Pandey patent. He laughs uproariously at that. Thats me. He recollects an interesting incident: During the course of my work, once some of us from the company went to Cokes office in Delhi. Since the CEO was busy, we sat outside and as usual I was laughing loudly over some joke. The door suddenly opened and a man walked in. Everyone stopped laughing while I was still at it. He looked at me and said, Come to my office often. I like to listen to your laughter. It was then that we realised he was the CEO!

Is it taxing at times to be in a profession that demands creativity all the time I love the job. If it wasnt so, I wouldnt be able to do it. To be creative, one has to keep observing. An idea can come from anywhere. Many a times one thinks and works for a jingle or an ad even when the client has not asked for it. There is the feeling of lets attempt it. And that keeps one going. One must keep experimenting all the time. If one is seeking, then the ideas will keep coming. There is a continuous search for improvement and expansion.

How does he sustain creativity There is no formula as such. One keeps observing. React to a situation. Try to get it out in writing. If it does not happen, try again. But dont sit and sulk. I have played cricket at the Ranji Trophy level. I know that every ball I hit cannot go for a six but that does not stop me from facing the ball. You think of the next shot.

Does he have a high expectation from himself I want to do well, he says emphatically. Expectations are based on the expectations of those who matter to you. One is always seeking fresher avenues and fresher expressions. There is an urge to do something that I have not had an opportunity to do or did not want to do earlier. For example, when pharma company Pfizer came to us, it was a big challenge. I had never done a pharma company advertisement before. A corporate campaign is different from a product category. One becomes a novice and then the assignment becomes a challenge. One challenges oneself to push ones borders.

Most of the memorable advertisements that Mr Pandey has done have been in Hindi. Does he think in Hindi I think largely in Hindi. Emotions and experiences are best expressed in ones mother tongue. An English dialogue does not really sit well with the audience. Somewhere down the line, there is a difference in the nuance and the content.

Does he normally get the copy right at the first go or does he have to rework often Not really. Many a time it is the first idea that is the purest and it comes out right. When one reworks it, one is rationalising it and the idea is diluted. The reworking makes the copy self conscious and it becomes mundane.

When one sees a good copy written by others, is there a tinge of envy at not having done it himself He is honest. A trace of envy is there. A whole lot of work being done in advertising is very interesting and is being done well. But envy is a motivation, a hunger to do well.

Like most creative people, does he have any fetishes Would he, for instance, be put off by phone calls while at work Anyone in the office can walk into my room at any time. I write everywhere. In fact a lot of it is done at home. One needs a bit of peace, and also a bit of hungama. A whole lot of ads have been cracked during a particularly noisy session. But at times I do instruct my secretary to keep off visitors for 10 minutes if I am working on something. But its not a hard and fast rule.

What, according to Mr Pandey, is lacking in most offices that deal in creativity Appreciation of ideas is lacking, he says promptly. If you respect ideas, then you will end up respecting people with ideas no matter what the age of the person is. Encouragement and appreciation are lacking.

He has been at O&M for a long time now and it is rumoured that he is slated to take over from Ranjan Kapur, the present managing director. If he does so, he could be one of the very few creative directors in the country to head an advertising agency. He smiles. I could well be the guy. But it is too premature to talk of it now.

When one thinks of Mr Pandey, one associates O&M with him and not the other way around. He laughs. The good part is that it is not damaging because unlike others I dont jump jobs. My middle name is Ogilvy and that has escaped most people! One should not forget that one does not make anything happen without so many people around to make it. The only thing is not to let it go to ones head.