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Cannes or AdFest, awards are the juiciest carrots driving excellence for Ogilvy’s Sumanto Chattopadhyay & team

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Cannes or AdFest, awards are the juiciest carrots driving excellence for Ogilvy’s Sumanto Chattopadhyay & team

The recently concluded AdFest 2010 has brought much cheer to the Indian advertising industry by way of international awards. The awards have also given a boost to Indian creatives. One such winner is Ogilvy India’s Executive Creative Director, South Asia Sumanto Chattopadhyay’s team from Sri Lanka, which bagged its first Gold for its Iodex ‘Little people’ campaign at AdFest 2010. Chattopadhyay shares his excitement on winning the award and the plans ahead with exchange4media.

Speaking on the year 2010 for his team, Chattopadhyay said, “Fame and fortune are the two things that drive people to achieve in any field. It is no different for creative people – good salaries and the recognition that comes with creative awards, especially the international ones, are the things that drive them to burn the midnight oil. As advertising salaries are not that great in India, so awards become the juiciest carrots that drive excellence in the industry.”

Some of the other awards that were won in 2010 under Chattopadhyay’s leadership included the outdoor campaign for The Economist, created by team Mumbai headed by Sukesh Nayak and Heeral Akhaury, that bagged a Bronze at Cannes, a Silver at AdFest, a merit at One Show, a shortlist at Clio and four pieces of metal at GoaFest 2010. The Kolkata team, headed by Koustuv Chatterjee and Sukhendu Mukherjee, had developed the ‘Meltdown’ activation on global warming (for the NGO AICMED, in association with Rollick Ice-Creams), which bagged a Bronze at Cannes 2010.

Chattopadhyay noted, “This is truly a pioneering effort. I think it proves that no matter where you are based and whatever your client list is, it is possible to win big awards – as long as you have the inspiration.”

Made in India, for the world

As for the work on Iodex from Sri Lanka, Chattopadhyay oversaw the creative department at Phoenix Ogilvy, Sri Lanka. The creative team there is headed by Sujoy Roy, who has previously worked in both Ogilvy Mumbai and Kolkata. He said, “I don’t think the victory would have been half as meaningful for Sri Lanka had a team from India created the campaign out of India. But yes, the creative inspiration was provided by Sujoy Roy, an Indian expatriate CD, along with me providing some long-distance leadership from here.”

Citing other examples where Indian teams have worked on campaigns in other countries in the recent past, Chattopadhyay said that Ogilvy’s Lenovo Hub in Bangalore was a shining example of an Indian team doing global campaigns. In the past, across brands, India was adapting campaigns that were created in America or Europe, for example, Surf’s ‘Daag achhe hain’ campaign. But with Lenovo, the scenario was reversed for the first time. Similarly, Unilever brands such as Pond’s have sporadically done work out of India, which is used in other Asia Pacific markets. The ‘Football’ film created for The Economist in India has been picked up by their global marketing team to run in other countries too. “As Indian creativity comes up to international standards, we will see more and more examples of work done out of this country for the rest of the world,” Chattopadhyay affirmed.

As for India’s performance at international awards, he noted that things had improved somewhat, crafting standards had gone up in print, although the number of international awards won was relatively small as compared to the number of ad campaigns that were produced in India.

According to him, “We have an inherent advantage with on-ground activations because we have a tradition of orchestrating events involving large numbers of people at the street level. Also, in these newer categories, crafting and sensibilities are less of an issue with juries as they don’t have a pre-conceived western bias of what is award-worthy. In the case of film, it needs to work with the mass market to be cost-effective. The problem is that there is a mismatch between the sensibilities of international juries and Indian consumers. The trick is to find a common ground, but that isn’t easy. As India becomes more globalised and as our consumers become more affluent and educated, this will change. But it will take time. Of course, I hope that the uniqueness of Indian culture never goes away. Only the finesse with which we present should evolve.”

Concluding his views with a quote from French novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Chattopadhyay said, “‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea’. That’s exactly I strive to do.”


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