Ad-vantage, Piyush Pandey

Oct 13, 2015, 08:23 IST | Dipanjan Sinha

The Ogilvy India chairman talks about life and his new book, Pandeymonium, while citing his many influencers

  Piyush Pandey is a man with a deep, commanding voice, a bushy, intimidating moustache and a t-shirt with the image of a pug donning Pandey’s trademark moustache. Earlier, in a Hutch advertisement, he had introduced India's television audiences to a pug that followed its master everywhere.

Piyush Pandey at his residence at Shivaji Park. Pic/ Datta Kumbhar
Piyush Pandey at his residence at Shivaji Park. Pic/ Datta Kumbhar

Much before, he wrote, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, a campaign for national integration that lives on after decades. This juxtaposition of the serious and the childlike is, perhaps, what Pandey, the executive chairman of Ogilvy India, proposes when he writes, “Don’t let the child in you die. He or she is the genius. You are not,” in his soon-to-be released book.

Life lessons
He points out that it is more about life, a memoir. It begins with his earliest memories of spontaneous poetry between siblings and goes on to talk about how the people and lives around him have informed his creativity. He writes of how while growing up he was fascinated by carpenters and cobblers, and followed their work. He calls them his personal Google. “It is more about what I learnt in life and came handy to me in advertising.

Pandeymonium, Piyush Pandey, Penguin Random House, `799. Available at bookstores and e-stores from October 14.

I have written about clients, too, and that is a part of life too. I have written about my family and my lessons from them. I have spent half of my life, almost 33 years in advertising. I’ve never discontinued my learning from my earlier life when in advertising, rather it was an extension of that.”

And this is when we come to the question of the rich influence of the vernacular, too, in his life, which he celebrates and rues the fact that some people are ashamed to speak in their language in public. “Most spontaneity happens in your language. When people from the same area meet, they break into their language without realising because nothing else connects so well,” he says.

The other side
When asked about being on the team behind the BJPs ragingly successful media campaign for the previous election, Pandey says that they take decisions after consulting employees when working for a political party as they do not want anyone to work against their beliefs. “When we did the work for BJP, I called my team and asked if they were comfortable and excited about the project and went ahead with their response,” he opens up, just the way he has in Pandeymonium.

Language matters

Pandey recalls how ‘Kuchh Khaas Hai’, the Cadbury jingle was written and recorded originally in English. “The original song was, ‘There is something surreal in everyone, there something surreal ask anyone. It’s you, it’s real and the feeling is right, and there is something surreal in the taste of life.’ I did not have the money to pay for a fresh recording so I wrote the new song on the same tune, and it was 50 times better than the English.”

According to Piyush
On his writing: “I call it street literature, with the language and voice of the people on the street,” he shares.  
On women: Women in the book are strong, creative and brilliant; from his self-taught non-graduate mother who went on to teach his sisters during their post-graduation to his senior colleagues who he calls ‘rockstars’.
Women in ads: “Advertising has failed women with only few at the top. The portrayal of women in ads has been regressive but it is getting better. The Titan Raga ad where the girl doens’t give up her career because the man’s career is more important is an example. Despite a shift, there is a long way to go,” he says.
No Twitter for Pandey? Pandey has avoided Twitter till now because “it is dangerous for an opinionated person.”
On IPL & Lalit Modi What we did then, was clean stuff; it was admired all over the world. I am not ashamed to have been a part of it. In fact, I am proud of it.

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