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40 years in 1 job: Ogilvy's Piyush Pandey says ‘Don’t count the years’

Piyush Pandey - the man behind some of India’s most iconic commercials - spoke of his creative journey and all things advertising in an interview with Exchange4Media.

August 10, 2022 / 11:47 AM IST
Piyush Pandey is  Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and Executive Chairman India of Ogilvy

Piyush Pandey is Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and Executive Chairman India of Ogilvy

In an industry like advertising, lasting 40 years in one job might just be setting a world record of sorts. So when Piyush Pandey - the man behind some of India’s most iconic commercials - completed four decades with ad agency Ogilvy, he sat down with Exchange4Media to talk all things advertising and more.

Pandey, 67, rose to his position as Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and Executive Chairman India of Ogilvy from his first role as a trainee account executive. He is the man who not only gave the country some of its most memorable ad campaigns (who doesn’t know of “Fevicol ka mazboot jod"?) but is also credited with bringing an “Indianness” to the country’s advertising landscape which, at the time, was still heavily influenced by western ideals.

Asked what keeps him going even after 40 years in the same job, Piyush Pandey told Exchange4Media: “If someone stays in a job for a long time, that means they are passionate about their work… When you enjoy your job, you don't even count the years.

“I still remember the first 40 days of my job at Ogilvy, forget about 40 years. When you are playing in a match, you don't play for a score, you just enjoy the batting,” he added.

Pandey delivered some wildly popular ads of the ‘90s and among the most well-known is his campaign for Cadbury. The iconic advertisement featuring model Shimona Rashi running onto the cricket pitch, chocolate bar in hand, was recreated last year by Ogilvy. This time, genders were swapped and it was a Cadbury-eating boyfriend who ran onto the field to celebrate his girlfriend’s win.

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The adman spoke about the core idea behind both versions of the ad. The original, he says, was made to change the perception that adults can’t enjoy chocolates.

“The first version was very simple -we wanted adults to eat chocolates. Adults were not eating chocolate in the public then as it was considered a children’s product,” explained Pandey.

“My young team wanted to recreate it last year. We decided not to touch the music, which was the everlasting one.

“In the first ad, the protagonist was a performer, not a cricketer. We had Shimona then. In the second, we had a street boy as the protagonist,” said Pandey, adding that he loved the work his team did and that if “you tweak the original version and bring something new, then it is recreating not remaking.”

For Pandey, it wasn’t easy to pick five favourite campaigns in a career spanning four decades, but he made an attempt nevertheless when asked to.

“I love the ‘chal meri luna’ campaign that was made in the eighties, and the Cadbury campaigns that came much later. Asian Paints, Pidilite and so many. Never compare Don Bradman with Sachin Tendulkar,” said the adman.

Beyond his ad campaigns, Pandey also opened up about his creative journey. “Was there any day in your career when you felt like you were done?” he was asked, and replied that those who like their work don’t feel like changing jobs.

Money, according to him, should not be the motivation behind switching jobs. “Look for another job if you are able to actualise yourself better in that job. Don't be fooled by the money, if the work is not good,” he says.

As for himself, Pandey prefers to let his work do the talking. He related an incident from the ‘90s, when someone offered him a job and told him his name would be included in the company’s board.

“I told him, ‘When you landed in India and drove from the airport to the Taj Hotel to meet me, you might have seen many boards. My name is written all over, so I am not concerned about my name. My work is my name, not the vice versa.’”
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first published: Aug 10, 2022 11:43 am
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