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Bobby Pawar

CCO Designate | 02 Dec 2011

I like challenges. I like to get out there. Comfort makes me a little bit uneasy. Another thing that became evident to me is that this is the biggest challenge in India. I mean there is no bigger agency, with the most number of creative people, and if those people find me talented, it will be a new level of leadership and get some great work out there, iconic work for these iconic brands. Designations are nice, but that is just not what I am about.

Bobby Pawar recently bid adieu to Mudra Group as Chief Creative Officer. He is joining JWT India as Chief Creative Officer and Managing Partner, working with Colvyn Harris, CEO, JWT India.

At Mudra Group, where he has worked for over three years, Pawar has been overseeing creative across the four-agency network. He has played a key role alongside MD & CEO of the company, Madhukar Kamath, and senior officials such as Pratap Bose, CEO, Mudra Max, to bring Mudra Communications to its current stature.

Prior to taking over Mudra’s national creative responsibilities, Pawar had spent seven years in the US market with BBDO, Chicago and O&M, New York. In the course of his career, Pawar has worked with several global creative behemoths such as Neil French, Rick Boyko, Steve Hayden and Marty Orzio and planning stalwarts such as Tony Wright and Chip Walker.

Pawar cut his teeth at O&M India. He rose quickly from Senior Copywriter to Creative Director and worked on award-winning campaigns for Tata Safari, Tata Sierra, Kelvinator, British Airways and so on.

In conversation with Noor Fathima Warsia, Pawar speaks about the transition period at Mudra, the challenges ahead and the creative structure in agencies.

Q. After playing such an important role at Mudra, you are now leaving it. How will you ensure a smooth transition?

Every time you walk away, and especially if you play a big role in an organisation, it is a sensitive time. Professionally, the only thing I can do is say no to any of these new things because if I know it, in my head I am going to use some way or the other. You can stop yourself from using the knowledge that you have. So obviously that limits my sphere of interest. Most people would say: ‘this guy is already gone’. If I say something, they may follow it or not follow it. I am fine with that. Obviously, we all want the transition to be smooth. I have a big vested interest in making sure the transition is smooth because I built this place! My blood is in those bricks and I don’t want to see them crumble. I would love to see it flourish the way I am seeing it. My child gets to grow and that is how I am kind of seeing it. I want to keep the happy family in the first half of the phase.

Q. Are you hoping then to kind of sort out the replacement?

That is not my case. They can find a replacement. I think that is something Madhukar (Kamath, MD & CEO, Mudra Group) has got to do. If anybody wants my inputs or anything, I’ve always been nothing less than frank. So, I will give them an answer as best as possible. There are too many good people out there and it’s not that there is lack of talent.

Q. Does it trouble you how the press has related this to Omnicom?

If they’re doing that, they are connecting two sort of closely related events to each other without doing their homework. It’s not about leaving Mudra, but it’s about going towards an interesting and scarier challenge. It’s just unfortunate for the two to happen at the same time. We have won awards at every forum. My ultimate dream was realised when the winners of the Creative Young Guns travelled to represent India. I could not be unhappy about it. So it is set. All you have to do is push it forward and make sure that the bar remains as high. It’s not like I have to fix anything anymore. The talent is coming to us and some people are not leaving even if they are offered 50 per cent or 75 per cent or even 100 per cent more money, because they believe what is happening here and what they can accomplish.

Q. Now that you are going to JWT, will you have some of your clients coming with you?

No, I am not going to do that. I am not going to talk to any client about it. It’s their call to make and also they would have to justify every category.

Q. Do you think creative agencies need to revisit their creative structure?

Organisations need to evolve. Organisational structure needs to move up. The art and copy concept was from the time people did print ads and this still holds true. Maybe planners need to work closely at this thing and maybe technologists more so with the print people. The creative area itself is limiting; people with different skill sets and mind sets work together, any member could come up with the idea. The creative people can put a lot of craft in the writing and all that, but the idea per say could come from the technologists or a planner, and so on. We can be open-minded about that.

Q. Going forward, what challenges do you see at JWT?

I like challenges. I like to get out there. Comfort makes me a little bit uneasy. I have done this. Another thing that became evident to me is that this is the biggest challenge in India. I mean there is no bigger agency, with the most number of creative people, and if those people find me talented, it will be a new level of leadership and get some great work out there, iconic work for these iconic brands. In the end, you’ve got to be very comfortable with who you are. Listen to what your instinct tells you. Designations are nice, but that is just not what I am about.

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