Leo Burnett investing a lot on human data: Rajdeepak Das

The Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Leo Burnett, SouthAsia, shares insights about the agency’s post-pandemic productions, their entries for Cannes Lions and much more

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Jun 6, 2022 8:18 AM  | 7 min read

Stunning panorama, abundant greenery, ample sunlight and a lot of laughter and chit-chatting lend advertising agency Leo Burnett’s office a feel that is more like a university campus than an ad agency.

“Creativity can hardly be achieved within the confines of a cubicle. The best ideas are born after freewheeling conversations and criticism only,” says Rajdeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer and CEO of Leo Burnett, SouthAsia.

The average age of employees ’Burnettos', as they call themselves, could be less than 30. They don't believe in formalities anyway.

That energy and freedom are reflected in Burnett’s powerful storytelling and creativity. The agency has two shelves full of coveted awards and cups, including several Cannes Lions.

Four such ideas that resulted in superlative ad campaigns in 2021 are competing for Cannes Lions global creativity contest this year. This includes Whisper’s ‘Keep Girls in School’, MPL’s ‘Billion Cheer Jersey’ and Spotify’s Sunta Ja and Jeep-one Mission Earth. 

The barrier-free atmosphere perhaps results in better productivity as well.

“The team has delivered close to 75 campaigns in the last couple months,” says Das, who is one of the youngest creative heads in the country and was recently featured in the popular Netflix docu – series ‘Creative Indians’.

Apollo 11

LB India won multiple Grand Prix’s and medals at Cannes, One Show, D&AD and Spikes Asia and ranked as number 1 agency within the LB Worldwide which has 86 agencies under its fold.

However, the company cites “Apollo 11”, a specialized division of ‘mutant creatives’ solving human and brand problems, as Das’s “biggest” achievement. Some of the top campaigns of LB have come from Apollo 11 only.

Apollo 11 came into existence a few years ago when Das decided to build something “crazy”. A bunch of people with entirely different skill-sets were hired for brainstorming and finding solutions for brands. This includes computer engineers, rocket fuel scientists, environmental researchers, entrepreneurs whose start-ups didn’t work, influencers, musicians and product designers.

“I had a dream to build something mad,” he laughs, then explains, “These people didn’t know ABC of the ad world but they know how to solve problems. They are hard to work, but they can deliver anything. They are built to find solutions for the brands. They could not succeed in their core areas, but they are young people with more life experiences. They are the ones who know what NOT to do.”

Das believes it is very important to know what you don’t want to do. This gives you a lot of clarity on what you want to do and are good at.

Ask him about the pandemic lessons, and Das pauses for a minute to control his emotions and articulate his thoughts. 

“We would have never seen the human side of our people, had the pandemic not been there. This period helped us to see the humane side of our clients. They inquired frequently whether we were fine, needed anything. They offered extension in the deadlines. Clients proposed free vaccination of our staff as well.”

“Some brands are doing well, some brands have gone down. Some, like hotels and airlines, have bounced back. Market has changed drastically over the past two years. Business leaders have had a change of heart. Briefs are no more. Clients ask us to just do a campaign. It's good to see the humane side of corporates,” says Das.

Leo Burnett always believed in the human side; believed in people, populism and purpose. “Since the last couple of months, we are purely that side,” Das underlines his agency’s philosophy, citing his popular campaigns for Whisper, MPL, Spotify and Kapil dev’s world cup match come alive.

“You can find a thread of humanity in all our campaigns. Pandemic has given us clarity about our own work, people, business. I can’t pinpoint every single bit of it, but the way we chase the problem now is very different now. When we go to clients, we know very clearly what will work, what won’t. We knew before as well but Pandemic came as a filter.”

“We don't want to waste client’s money on things which people don’t like. We are telling clients about it upfront. Unicorns love us for the same reason,” Das says.

Start-up winters & IPL

Investors have started pulling out of some of the start-ups associated with the Indian Premier League. Will this impact the IPL next season? Das, who has been handling several IPL campaigns of startups, says - No.

“IPL is a platform that equalizes the brand. You may call it democratization of brands. It is no longer a prime-time thing. Brands are built during the IPL, like CRED in 2021, Phonepe, Pharmeasy, Spotify in 2022. We don't know the formula but with years of IPL experience, we know which format will work in the IPL,” say Das, quipping that LB has played more IPLs than cricketers.

Human Data

LB is investing a lot on human data. The agency has got a team of experts from the e-commerce segment which spends a lot of time digging out relevant data which often forms the basis for ad campaigns.

“Data is a beautiful tool for creativity. Data and AI tells us what to do. For instance, HDFC life’s campaign is a data specific subject which involves a lot of human data and financial story. We studied and turned the cake out of it. If you want to retire at 40 years of age, what should your cake or pie-chart look like? How much you should invest,” Das explains.

“MPL is also a data story. We designed the jersey based on the sound waves of cricket fans. Missing 175 campaign also required a massive amount of data to create the Kapil Dev story from the 1983 world cup. His world cup match innings of 175 not out was not recorded anywhere. We recreated the match by using data. Many more interesting pieces are in the pipeline,” Das said. 

No branded content

Many top ad agencies are venturing into branded content production to open up a revenue stream and also to stop brain drain to the film industry. Does LB have any such plans?

“No,” clarifies Das, adding, “We lag far behind to catch the trend. We don't want to catch up. Running for content is a catch-up game which started 13-14 years back.”

LB is collaborating with other companies in order to get the branded content for clients.

“LB has always been a breeding ground for creativity. We lost many leaders such as Nitin Tiwari, Ashwin Tewari to the entertainment industry. We can't stop people from doing so. We have to reverse the brain drain. We want to provide the best content but without producing it. We have a collaboration model,” Das says.

He justifies his stand by citing the example of RedBull not making its own car engines for Formula 1 races. “RedBull is the only company in formula 1 that doesn't make its own engine.”

“We can do branded content, we have that talent and we lose people also. But we wish to surrender ourselves before someone who knows something better than us,” Das says, adding that LB collaborated with Netflix and Orio.

Metaverse Plans

Ask him about LB’s plans to exploit emerging formats such as Metaverse and NFTs? Das is quick to answer, “We will not make NFT or Metaverse just because everyone is doing so. NFT and Metaverse both will last longer. How you use them is important and changes everything. Context is more important than content.”

“LB will take them up, when it has the purpose to do so,” Das asserted. 


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Fevicol gets human OOH and 'Chipku Chair' to beat an age-old problem at sports events

Ogilvy has conceptualised and executed this quirky campaign at the Kila Raipur Rural Sports Festival

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 11:05 AM   |   1 min read


In India, fighting for a place to sit is an age-old problem. Be it a sports stadium or a music concert, a crowded food court or an overcrowded public event, no finite number of chairs is ever enough to accommodate all. It's a weird problem. For which a weird solution was long due.  

Fevicol, being an ambassador of quirky thinking, took a crack at this strange problem at Kila Raipur Rural Sports festival. It's a Ludhiana-based annual sports event, where literally truck loads of people gather to witness a fair that holds desi Indian sports and games that are steeped in Indian culture. And as usual, the fight for seats at the venue is quite a sport in itself. So, Fevicol deployed several human OOH within the spectators to lend an out-of-the-box solution to this problem. How? With Fevicol's very own brand promise - The ultimate bond. 

Ogilvy conceptualised and executed this quirky out of the box communication. 

“India is a land of unique, unimaginable jugaad. So, we chose to address a very human problem with a jugaad-led innovation and a touch of Fevicol's quirky tonality. We hope this piece will strike a chord with our consumers,” says Talha Bin Mohsin, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Mumbai. 

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In IPL season, Yuvi & Bhajji bat for other sports in new Cadbury Dairy Milk campaign

 #CheerForAllSports takes an inclusive approach towards sports like wrestling, boxing, hockey, table tennis, etc. which are often sidelined for cricket

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 31, 2023 10:51 AM   |   5 min read

yuraj singh

With cricket mania in India reaching fever pitch and with more games coming up in the next couple of months, Cadbury Dairy Milk has launched its latest campaign, #CheerForAllSports Guided by the brand’s purpose to inspire generosity in people, the multichannel campaign aims to bring India together to cheer for the Indian athletes across other sports who will be playing during the same time as IPL. With this, the brand is taking another step forward to encourage India to share and participate in the happiness of others. This time, the brand is nudging that— ‘Har Indian team ki Khushi Mein Shaamil Hokar Dekho’, by supporting Indian athletes as they compete in wrestling, boxing, hockey, table tennis and other tournaments across the globe.

The idea #CheerForAllSports is also being manifested at the back of a tech-enabled engagement wherein the special INR 100 pack of Cadbury Dairy Milk— with a unique font at the front with each letter representing a different sport, comes with a QR code. This code, when scanned, will lead to a microsite with a calendar of other sporting events during the same period as the upcoming IPL season. This dedicated microsite allows users to sign up for reminders and includes links to watch and support India in other sports. Taking this a step further, the brand has made arrangements for screens to be put up at stadiums where Indian athletes will be playing, to showcase the people who join the stream to cheer for the Indian athletes. When a viewer joins the link shared via the microsite, they will join thousands more as they all come together to cheer for India— no matter where they are!

Speaking on the idea behind the campaign, Mr. Nitin Saini, Vice President, Marketing, Mondelez India said, Over the years, Cadbury Dairy Milk has been successfully fostering the spirit of generosity through its heartfelt campaigns. We have been consistently shining a spotlight on the unacknowledged, such as the ground staff and women in sports. Therefore, this year, we are taking the idea of generosity a step forward to other sports with Cadbury Dairy Milk #CheerForAllSports campaign. In a cricket loving nation like India, laurels won by athletes of other sports can often go unnoticed. Through this campaign, we aim to change this narrative and get India to cheer for athletes across other sports. We hope that our campaign inspires consumers to participate in the happiness of talented Indian athletes, evoking a sense of acchai and mithaas around all of us.” 

Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, commented, “#CheerForAllSports is our labor of love that's been 8 months in the making. In India, cricket is nothing short of a religion. It enjoys fandom that in unfathomable. But there are countless sports and countless sportspersons that remain unacknowledged, no matter the glory they bring our nation. This IPL season, Cadbury Dairy Milk is proud to create a platform to help celebrate these unsung sports and their heroes. The biggest challenge was to conceptualize an entire ecosystem that would revolutionize how every Indian could easily cheer for and lend their support to all sports. This phygital ecosystem was painstakingly engineered through association with sporting federations to integrate live digital and on-ground fan experiences. #CheerForAllSports will help curate the season's sporting calendar on an immersive and experiential microsite where you can watch live games along with Yuvi and Bhaji, and most importantly, brings all of these fans right into the stadium to create a thundering cheer for our unsung heroes.” 

Shekhar Banerjee, Chief Client Officer & Office Head – West, Wavemaker India, further highlighted, “We are trying to achieve something ingenious. We will be leveraging the scale of IPL to get the cricket cheering audiences to #CheerForAllSports. For this we have partnered with Star Sports, Jio Cinema and some of the popular sports celebrities in India. We are excited about how our online platform will enable participation and support cricket audiences to virtually cheer for Indian team participating in other sports”

Along with the shorties with Yuvraj and Harbhajan who are seen celebrating the win for other sports, the brand through their main film also captured key Indian Table Tennis, Hockey, Wrestling and Boxing athletes including Sharath Kamal, Diya Chitale, Hardik Singh, Varun Kumar and Deepak Puniya. In the film, these accomplished athletes talk about their experience of winning glory for the country in an empty stadium, and how this affects every sportsman’s morale. The film also shows Yuvraj and Harbhajan talking about their experiences through their career, playing for a stadium of fans cheering them on, and how they would want the same for all athletes representing India. The film goes on to show what having fans by their side, supporting them would mean for athletes.

"As we all know, in India the popularity of other sports is not as much as cricket is. Through its #CheerForAllSports campaign, Cadbury Dairy Milk is encouraging people to cheer for Indian athletes from other sports, which is a positive change. Amongst the many sportspeople, the campaign features some stars like Sharath Kamal (TT), Varun Kumar, and Hardik Singh (Hockey). #CheerForAllSports will get these stars in the spotlight and generate more support for non-cricket sports! added Jigar Rambhia, COO, Sporjo.”

This unique campaign will be supported by a 360-degree approach, including on-ground and instore activations, along with OOH activations outside the cricket stadiums. Cadbury Dairy Milk will also bring this alive through partnerships on social media and platforms such as The Bharat Army and CricBuzz, along with influencer engagement, and strategic engagement on social media channels.

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Roger Federer & Trevor Noah on ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’ in Switzerland

The campaign by Switzerland Tourism showcases the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

By exchange4media Staff | Apr 1, 2023 12:00 PM   |   2 min read


Switzerland Tourism has unveiled its new film for its ongoing ‘I need Switzerland’ campaign to promote rail travel and the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland.

The film features the duo getting ready to take a train as part of a shoot to promote the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. They soon realize, they’ve gotten onto the wrong train on a different route to Interlaken, leaving the crew behind. Left on their own, Federer and Noah travel through Switzerland’s striking landscapes and find they’re having a great time even befriending a kind local lady for company who pays for their tickets. Once they hop off, the crew finds them just in time to take them back on the train they’re meant to be on, but they’ve had such a blast, they give the team the slip and run to catch another panoramic train ride on the route!

The route they take in the film is a part of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, the 1,280 kilometres train tour that leads from the most charming Swiss cities like Lucerne to Alpine villages like Zermatt, and through UNESCO World Heritage sites, impressive natural wonders such as the Rhine Falls and majestic mountains such as the Jungfraujoch, Titlis or Matterhorn. It allows visitors to explore all this and more, all year round, in comfort and at their convenience.

One can experience the entire tour with only one single ticket – the Swiss Travel Pass. This pass is the key to the Swiss public transport network. Visitors can hop on to Swiss trains, buses, trams and boats with this pass that can be bought for 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 days. To give travellers even more time to explore the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, there is a global Swiss Travel Pass promotion. As part of the special offer, from 15 April 2023 to 14 May 2023, up to two additional travel days will be added free of charge when buying an eligible Swiss Travel Pass.

This is Roger Federer’s third outing showcasing some of the most stunning sights, experiences and culture of his home country, raising the bar each time and setting new standards of national tourism advertising with Switzerland Tourism. In 2021, Federer featured in a film titled ‘No Drama’ with Hollywood legend Robert De Niro showcasing the ‘too perfect Switzerland’ and in 2022, he started alongside the super-talented actress Anne Hathaway to promote road trips as part of the Grand Tour of Switzerland.

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In cricket season, Rungta Steel’s TVC with Alia & Ranbir talks about solid partnerships

The TVC showcases Alia and Ranbir immersed in a playful talk highlighting the value of strong partnerships in personal and professional lives

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 4:43 PM   |   2 min read


Rungta Steel, a TMT bar and integrated steel products manufacturer, has unveiled their new TV commercial (TVC) featuring actor couple Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor that highlights the importance of strong partnerships in life.

With the return of the cricketing season starting off with Indian Premier League (IPL), Rungta's new TVC commercial draws parallels between cricket partnerships and the importance of solid relationships 'on and off the field.' The TVC showcases Alia and Ranbir immersed in a playful talk highlighting how a solid relationship can make a significant difference in achieving success and the value of strong partnerships in personal and professional lives. 

Commenting on the release of the new TV commercial, Mr. Arvind Kumar, Senior GM and Head- Marketing and Sales (TMT), “Both Alia and Ranbir are known for their exceptional talent and their ability to connect with audiences. Our new TVC captures the essence of the emotion and excitement of the cricketing season that is upon us. We wanted to celebrate this very spirit and hope our customers will love the new TVC and will be able to relate to it on a personal level. As an organization, we are constantly looking at new ways to innovate and improve our offerings. We have plans in the pipeline and announcements that we will be making in the near future”.  

The TV commercial features Rungta Steel’s products, highlighting the strength and durability of their steel products that can withstand even the toughest conditions, like how strong partnerships are built on trust and mutual respect. 

The release of the new TV commercial is part of Rungta Steel’s ongoing TVC campaign endeavor to connect with customers and key stakeholders and communicate their commitment to providing high- quality steel products. The new TV commercial starring Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor is a testament to the company’s commitment to quality, reliability and performance. 

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Bajaj’s campaign for new air cooler is about not giving up on dreams

The film is conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 3:52 PM   |   2 min read


Consumer appliances brand Bajaj has unveiled its latest air coolers equipped with the 'DuraMarine Pump' through a pan-India multimedia campaign.

The brand released an ad film for the latest air coolers that target Indian consumers vying for a pleasant summer experience. Conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India, the ad campaign depicts the undying zeal for not giving up on dreams. The creative agency has linked the robustness of these air coolers with the youth of today who can endure, be resilient and consistently perform to the best of their abilities to achieve their dreams. The campaign aims to drive a larger message of how the latest range of air coolers signifies durability and promises the required strength to wither any challenges.

At the launch, Ravindra Singh Negi, Chief Operating Officer, Consumer Product Business, Bajaj Electricals Limited, said, "Today, consumers prefer products that offer aesthetic appeal, comfort, and durability supported by newer advancements in technology. In the air coolers category, our intention behind this launch is to bring a solution, 'BUILT FOR LIFE', and comfort end consumers as temperatures soar. Our brand film effectively communicates the air coolers' aesthetic features and functional benefits while raising awareness of our cutting-edge products. We are confident that the brand film resonates with the youth of today who live their dream and work hard towards their passion". 

Ashish Chakravarty, Executive Director & Head of Creative, shared the core thought behind the brand's TVC, "The film showcases the unmatched determination and grit that consumers put in to achieve their goals. Music plays a critical role in setting the pace of the film. It allows us to accelerate the film to its crescendo gradually. Showing a passage of time and intensity. The to-and-for nature of the track allows us to seamlessly shift between product and protagonist, building a relationship between the two. BAJAJ is proud to partner in their journey to success, offering a durable and efficient product that complements their hard work."

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TVS Eurogrip Tyres rides on MS Dhoni’s sense of humour in IPL 2023 campaign

Campaign focusses on the tyre brand’s product features and relates it to MSD’s on-field escapades

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 3:12 PM   |   2 min read


TVS Eurogrip, a 2 & 3-wheeler tyre brand, has launched a comprehensive brand campaign with a series of ad films, bringing out the humorous best of M S Dhoni.

Leveraging the brand’s second year of partnership with IPL team CSK, the brand films have MS Dhoni sharing gripping stories from the field with his CSK teammates Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shivam Dube, Deepak Chahar and others.  The films laced with humour, match Dhoni’s cricketing skills to specific unique attributes of TVS Eurogrip tyres.

Sharing details about the campaign, P Madhavan, EVP, Sales and Marketing, TVS Srichakra Ltd said, “As the IPL extravaganza returns to all cities across India after a gap of three years, we are excited to rollout a fresh brand campaign to mark our second year of association with Chennai Super Kings as Principal Sponsor. The nuances of our product features have been brought out well in the new films. TVS Eurogrip is all about high performance and the best tyre technology that gives riders superior confidence on the roads.  Similarly, CSK is one of the most consistent and performing teams in the IPL arena. We are sure our continued association would lead to winning strides for both partners.”

The latest campaign is in line with the company’s ambition of building a youthful, vibrant brand that resonates with millennial and Gen Z Indian riders and aims to strengthen TVS Eurogrip’s positioning as “The Bike Tyre Specialist”. The ads focus on the high-speed stability, superior wet grip and anti-skid properties of the tyres and will be aired starting 31st March 2023, in sync with the start of the tournament. There is a complete surround programme planned for the on-air campaign across social media, traditional media like print and outdoor as well as on-ground activations.

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Rohit Sharma turns politician for Ceat’s new campaign

The film also features Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 30, 2023 3:04 PM   |   3 min read


Tyre manufacturer CEAT Ltd has launched its new TVC for its four-wheeler SUV tyre range. The TVC features Rohit Sharma, captain of the Indian Men’s Cricket team, and two exciting young players, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill - with all three of them featuring in somewhat different roles in the new advert.  With the forthcoming cricket season, the three cricketers are all set to spread the message and highlight the importance of having good SUV tyres that can handle speed as well as offer a superior grip.

The new TVC conceptualised by Ogilvy, features an SUV with Rohit Sharma as a busy politician riding in the back seat and sharing nuggets of political wisdom. A bespectacled Shubman Gill, as a typically harried-looking politician’s secretary busy on his cell phone, is quickly alerted to his master’s latest pontification by the chauffeur, played by Shreyas Iyer in the video. As the secretary frantically searches for a pen to record the advice, just at that instant, around a sharp bend, a group of protestors suddenly appear in the middle of the road. The driver has to brake hard and swerve fast to prevent an accident. Once done, he is quick to repeat their master’s advice - the importance of ‘speed and grip’ in the context of both driving as also in politics. This analogy echoes the same attributes as exemplified by CEAT Tyres - and is demonstrated by Shreyas Iyer in adroitly avoiding an accident because of the superior grip of CEAT’s new SUV tyres at high speed. “You should definitely write it down”, reiterates Rohit Sharma to Shubman Gill to reinforce the message. The gospel for success in politics and that of safety on the roads is the same, as the TVC playfully tries to show.

The campaign once again leads back to CEAT’s purpose of ‘Making Mobility Safer & Smarter. Everyday’.

Speaking on the campaign, Lakshmi Narayanan B, Chief Marketing Officer - CEAT Limited said, "It’s the cricket season and CEAT is thrilled to get 3 of India’s top cricketers - Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gill in  ‘never seen before’ avatars. CEAT’s wide range of SUV tyres have a unique capability to provide both speed and control while delivering on its promise of safety and comfort. Our range of offerings, which include SportDrive SUV, CrossDrive SUV and SecuraDrive SUV address a wide range of on-road and off-road requirements.”

Rohit Joseph, Senior Creative Director, Ogilvy adds “In general, creatives are a little vary of sportsmen, when it comes to performing in front of camera. Scripts are watered down, roles are pruned, lines shortened or a ‘propah’ actor is built in for heavy lifting. But this time around, with CEAT’s conviction, the team got the confidence to go beyond the norm. We had three star players, acting out of their skin (and such a commendable job), in a duration strait-jacket of 20 seconds, segueing into tyre story, effortlessly. We are quite thrilled with the result, and awaiting all the brand love this one will garner in coming days.”


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