Piyush Pandey on the intricacies of advertising

Delhi launch of Pandey's Open House

Piyush Pandey
(L-R) Piyush Pandey, chief creative officer worldwide, Ogilvy with Shereen Bhan, managing editor of CNBC-TV18 at the event. Photo IPP

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”                                                                                                                                                                                        —  Maya Angelou

With these words from American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou Shereen Bhan, the managing editor of CNBC-TV18 introduced Piyush Pandey at the Delhi book launch of his latest book, Open House with Piyush Pandey on the evening of 29 April at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. Both Pandey and Bhan are icons in their fields.

The book, published by Penguin India, is out in May at leading bookstores and eCommerce websites.  The launch was sponsored by HSBC, and was part of its Rendezvous series on literary conversations, in association with Taj Hotels. HSBC has been in the banking business for more than 165 years and has come a long way since its inception in 1865. 

Piyush Pandey
Copies of Open House with Piyush Pandey on display at Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. Photo IPP

Bhavna Mehta from the Taj Mahal welcomed the open house to the event. This was followed by Milee Ashwarya, editorial director at Ebury India, and Random Business acquainting the audience with Pandey’s work which primarily focuses on the ethics of advertising, client relationships, industry experiences, and the nuances of sensitive research.

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Advertising as a cultural phenomenon

Who can forget the iconic Cadbury’s dancing girl on the cricket field ad that resonated with a generation of youngsters for the unabashed portrayal of reckless romance? Or ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’ patriotic anthem that united Indians of all ages, faiths, and regions? Or the Asian Paints ‘Har ghar kuch kehta hai’ campaign that brought it to the forefront of the industry? The leitmotif among these exceedingly successful advertisement campaigns is impactful storytelling which strikes a chord in the hearts of viewers.

Piyush Pandey
Piyush Pandey, chief creative officer worldwide, Ogilvy and author of Open House with Piyush Pandey. Photo IPP

Pandey is a veteran in the field of advertising and has been associated with the advertising agency Ogilvy for over four decades. He is currently the global chief creative officer at the firm. Pandey’s upbringing in the pink city left a deep impact on the masterful storyteller and inspired him to come up with campaigns that win people’s hearts and land people at crossroads of nostalgia even after years. He fondly recollects hearing the phrase dil jeet lo from elders while growing up, an adage that he has stayed faithful to ever since he began making sense of the world.

Pandey shared that the ‘secret ingredient’ of his signature style is understanding human beings and finding a common pulse that invokes a key emotion from the navrasa or the nine emotions that find eminence in Indian aesthetics, amid a particular region, language, or religion. He vehemently opposes the notion of translating cultural nuances to suit all requirements. Another hallmark of Pandey’s advertorial legacy is going sans taglines, a strategy that finds a mass following among marketing gurus globally.

He further says that advertising is not a one-man show and requires a team effort from brainstorming and ideation to aesthetic filming and soundtrack creation to ignite ‘the magic within.’ According to him, advertising is a two-way street in which the consumer either rejects you right away or embraces you with open arms. Another thing he stressed during the discussion was staying true to both the brand’s and people’s belief in you because when ‘value creation’ becomes the focal point of advertising it’s a win-win situation for all! 

Pandey openly admonished theoretical research and encouraged the gathering to scratch beneath the surface while emphasizing the cruciality of sensitive research. Data-based research cannot be used as crutches for impactful storytelling, he said. 

His inspiration to ‘move’ people comes from diverse sources – from interacting with total strangers over the course of a long train journey to a chance encounter with a maali or subziwala, he believes every person has the power to leave the deepest emotional impact. Talking about his love affair with advertising, Pandey concludes that sparking a thought, inspiring people, and building it is the way forward in the ad world.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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