The Ist Pandit Vinod Sharma Memorial Lecture was hosted by RAPA (Radio & TV Advertising Practitioners Association of India Ltd) on March 23 2004 at Nehru Centre, Mumbai. The occasion was graced by the presence of Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & National Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather, who spoke at length on ‘Indianness in Advertising.’ An earnest Pandey stated, “ There are so many layers within our culture that with the methodical incorporation of these attributes, you could transform an already powerful piece of communication into something that’s twice as compelling. Purab Se Surya Uga, Hamara Bajaj, Chal Meri Luna are all compelling pieces of work which focus on the wonderful aspects of our culture and tradition. Which explains their success.”
Pandey also addressed the great divide between the localized approach and the global idea through his speech. He asserted, “What you have got to realise is- If you are not Shoaib Akhtar, don’t try and bowl like him. Else, you might end up with full tosses.
A whole lot of creative people have tried to ape ideas that have been tried and tested at a global level, in order to get recognition at awards ceremonies such as Cannes. In the end, the answers are going to come from what we have and not from what’s being demonstrated at a global level.”
According to Pandey, the colonial legacy that India carries has made its mark on advertising as well. He states, “ We are late comers, as far as advertising is concerned. Which is why, many of the perceptions that we carry are perceptions of the West. Until a while back, most clients used to shun humour based ideas on account of the fact that ‘Indians take themselves too seriously and are incapable of digesting humour.’ I truly believe that Indian audiences are as intelligent, as the audiences in any other part of the world. And to carry a mindset such as this, is to deprive them of new ideas and good work.”
Pandey displayed a clipping of ‘An Ode to the Indian Woman’, which was envisioned for a cosmetics major, and has not yet been capitalised on television on account of the fact that it doesn’t host a glamour doll look. Pandey believes that the commercial would be incorporated on television, in the times ahead and has not yet given up on the merits of the piece. He states candidly, “ In today’s times, we have seen chocolate faces disappearing from chocolate commercials. Perhaps there would be a day, when plastic girls would make an exit from cosmetic commercials as well.”
Needless to say, that the narration from Pandey reflected key issues, in the creative arena. And it did make the audience reflect on creations such as ‘Purab Se Surya Uga’, which once upon a time had given a whole new dimension to public service messages.
The Ist Pandit Vinod Sharma Memorial Lecture also saw Prasoon Joshi and Ameen Sayani as a part of the audience. Piyush Pandey was graced by a memento from Brij Mittle, President, RAPA.