IPL will be the biggest game changer for ad industry now: Prateek Bhardwaj, Lowe Lintas

In today's edition of e4m Creative Zone, we speak to Prateek Bhardwaj, CCO Lowe Lintas on creativity in adversity, anticipated positive momentum post IPL and more

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Aug 3, 2020 7:57 AM
4m Creative Zone with Prateek Bhardwaj, Chief Creative Officer at Lowe Lintas

The COVID-19 global lockdown has not only confined us to our homes but also thrown at us challenges of various dimensions. From the ad industry’s perspective, organising and shooting an advertising campaign in these conditions proved to be the big test. However, despite these challenges, our creative leaders have continued to conceptualise work that inspires. In our new series – e4m Creative Zone, we get to know how Creative heads have been surpassing the COVID hurdles.

In today's edition of e4m Creative Zone, we have another star creative-Prateek Bhardwaj is Chief Creative Officer at Lowe Lintas. With over 20 years in the business, he has earned a slew of prestigious awards including the Grand Prix at Cannes Lions and Jay Chiat Awards, and the coveted Black Pencil at D&AD. He is ranked India’s No.1 most awarded creative for 2018, according to various sources, including CampaignBrief Asia. Bhardwaj is the Creative Director behind the much-acclaimed work on Nescafé (stammering comedian and RJ Rishi), Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan (Immunity Charm), and Incredible India. In conversation with exchange4media, Bhardwaj speaks of creating through adversity, anticipated positive momentum post IPL and more. 

Edited excerpts below:

How have you been grappling with shooting and creating amidst remote captivity?

I think the entire advertising industry can hold their heads high with the way we have gone on with work and the way we have adapted through it all. This lockdown has proved the strength and adaptability of the advertising industry. 

To all those who have proclaimed that big agencies are slow to respond, I think we have really stuck in there. We've been there for our clients, we've cracked campaigns on video calls. We have written stories that adapt to new rules and regulations. We have shot remotely and delivered top quality in impossible situations. I mean, look at the amount of proactive work coming out, not just from Lintas but the entire ad industry, which has really stood up and proved its value to clients. it's been a revelation.

Tell us about any campaigns created during the lockdown?

There are so many campaigns we have but the one closest to my heart is Kaam Waapsi. It’s a project we have taken up as Lowe Lintas. We started when we saw what the migrants were going through when they were returning to the villages. And we realized it's not going to be easy for them to return without jobs in hand. And we just gave ourselves this task of helping to bring back the migrants, with dignity, helping to restart the economy again. That's where the idea hit us. We created Kaam Wapasi, which is really like a creative tech intervention. And it's a platform that connects migrant workers with urban jobs. And we've created the tech ourselves and we signed up big brands as partners. Zee, Airtel, Radio City, etc have come on board. 

The crisis has brought in a great deal of upheaval in the way agencies are working now. Where do you see the silver lining or the green shoots of opportunity in all this?

In terms of adapting to the situation, what we've really focused on our client’s businesses and looked at what is required to help them survive through this time. We’ve gone into performance video making and are creating that ourselves. We are doing all kinds of work in these circumstances. There's a myth that advertising agencies just do TVCs for clients. I guess that's a myth propagated by people who haven't been inside an agency for a while. Every agency isn’t a digital agency but we've all adapted to that. It's just now that work is visible to everybody, that part of our skillset is visible to people. 

How have your clients responded to the situation? Are clients ready to spend now or are still tightening their purse-strings? What is the general mood like? 

IPL. I think it's such an inflection point in the general mood and sentiment. Suddenly there's a buzz, you can hear it. For advertising, it's like a calling we have survived the hard days and now we're nearing the end of the war. It's going to be the single biggest game-changer in the situation. I really feel good for agencies and marketers. The IPL is like a beacon.

When it started off with the lockdown, we saw so much UGC content and films shot using the phone. But as time has passed, have you now noticed the craft evolving rather than a saturation?

We have. We have seen this evolution.  And that's why I said, advertising should be proud of itself, of the industry, the way we work and how we found ways of delivering quality. We started off with all those mobile phones. I've been guilty of some of those myself. And now we figured out a way to create communication, even in these times, whether it's a video asset that you need to produce, how to get the quality and maintain the rules and regulations of these times. And the work that has been created, I think it's evolving every day and getting better. Look at the barriers in front of a creative person and the creative industry today. It’s not just about the kind of stories we can produce. It's about the kind of stories you can write. You can't write stories, which involve groups of people meeting because that's not how people are today. You can’t write stories of people meeting without masks, because that's irresponsible. Despite that, we are writing stories that work, we are producing them and making those productions work. Hats off to us. We all need to do a little Salaam to ourselves. We are pretty hard on ourselves, most of the time. But I think this Covid and lockdown situation has proven our resilience and adaptability.

These are times where there’s a stream of dreadful news affecting our lives. Then there is video fatigue, deadlines, barriers to creation, etc. What do you tell your teams to keep them going and what would be your message to creatives in terms of creating amidst adversity?

I think this is what I tell myself and my teams as well, that this is a situation, unlike any other. And I think no generation has seen this kind of situation and way of working. It's almost you’re at war but the economy is working at full tilt. And when this is over, we’re all gonna come out of this so strong. It's actually made us better. It's made us realize each other's value more. Sometimes you're sitting in an office, surrounded by people, you’re not valuing each other how you should be. Working from home, you're realizing everyone's value, much, much more which I think is a positive side to all of this. 

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