From Piyush, I learned the power of enthusiasm; from Prasoon, the power of poetry; from Santosh, the power of thinking; and from Bobby, the power of personal standards… I believe that Indian creativity consists of a bunch of brilliant people who have their own methodology to fall back upon and know what world class work is.
Ramanuj Shastry is an MBA and holds degrees in Economics and Mathematics. He started his career with Ogilvy India in 1994 and then moved to McCann Erickson as Senior Creative Director, where he was stationed for 11 years.
In June 2006, he joined Publics Ambience as National Creative Director. After spending a year there, Shastry joined Rediffusion Y&R in September 2007 as Co-Chief Creative Officer, along with Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar then.
In 2009 when he was appointed as NCD at Saatchi & Saatchi India. Over the years, Shastry has worked on brands such as Airtel, Virgin Atlantic, Chlormint, Coca-Cola, Saffola, Castrol and British Airways, among many others.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Tasneem Limbdiwala, Shastry speaks at length about the Lovemarks philosophy, creativity in advertising, and personal standards, among others…
Q. So, what is the way forward for you and the agency?
Actually, advertising business is in the state of luck. Print does not work anymore; television is on its way out; and digital no one knows how to do it. However, confusion is good because it is the mother of the next big idea. But I believe that Indian creativity consists of a bunch of brilliant people who have their own methodology to fall back upon and know what world class work is. So, I believe in the future some of the best ideas will come from India; however, we are still waiting… It’s like a seed that we sow in the ground, when it will burst open, nobody knows. So yes, it will take some time and we are getting use to the new rules of these changes.
Q. You mentioned about understanding Lovemarks company. What have understood and how are you applying this philosophy in your work?
Till now I have always seen a consumer as a person. From now on I have to think of people as a community. Because as per the Lovemarks philosophy, we are not a ‘person’ but the ‘people.’ So instead of talking to one person, I have to talk to many people. Now, I have learnt that ‘people’ is a plural term and I need talk to them as a community. That’s the shift for me because our goal is to create brands into Lovemarks, which are high on love and not just respect. It is easy to achieve respect, but achieving love is an even more difficult task for a brand.
The task for me is not propose to the client the regular TV, print and outdoor positioning. We at Saatchi believe that everything is digital and nothing is digital. Digital is just a medium and we need to sell our story via that medium, but the idea is that ‘people’ should interact with you through that idea and not just be passive listeners to your brands. Conversation is the key to the ideas and it is a two-way process.
Also, one should take note of the fact that I am a product of the old world. I was very comfortable talking down from a TV and a print ad where nobody talked back to me. I am now a new learner in the conversations area. Taking this idea forward, we are working on many brands currently. But many of the work still have to be released; however, you will see the work in the attempt at these conversations.
Q. You are a well respected name in the Indian advertising industry and as one takes your name, it is assumed to have some great work coming from your end. But post your joining Saatchi, we have not witnessed any path breaking work coming from the agency. Any particular reason for that?
I think it is more important for Saatchi to make a name than Ramanuj to make a name. The reason why I am hired by Saatchi & Saatchi is to take the creative level a step ahead rather than making Ramanuj Shastry the big star. Frankly, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone and my proving would come if Saatchi makes it big, and it’s just not me, but the radar stands for my creative team to engage with people and communicate the right kind of work. That’s the real push. So yes, it is taking time, but you will see something good coming out soon. Biryani banne ke liye time lagta hai, madam! It’s much better to be quiet and then come out with some good work rather than make noise.
Q. You have worked on some of well-known brands like Coke, Airtel and many more. Any specific work that has been the most memorable for you? Any particular reason for it to be memorable?
I recently saw an interview of singer Michael Bolton where he was asked what the pinnacle of his career was. He replied, ‘My career is like porcupine, there have been many pinnacles’. In the same way, I want my career to be like a porcupine with many pinnacles in them. As far as any memorable experience, I am not one who treasures memories. It’s just that if you start loving your past, you can’t look at the future. Past is gone and done; but of course there are good memories, but they are very personal. So what is exciting is what lies ahead, what is done is done and I can’t change anything about it!