‘There's a lot more wonderful work that is yet to come from Team Harshad-Kainaz’

Harshad Rajadhyaksha and Kainaz Karmakar talk to exchange4media on completing 10 years of a unique creative partnership at Ogilvy

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Updated: May 12, 2020 1:52 PM
Harshad Rajadhyaksha and Kainaz Karmakar

Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Chief Creative Officers at Ogilvy, are well known as a unique powerhouse creative team; their creative process is so rooted in ‘together’ that they hardly do any individual work. Last week, they completed 10 years of being a team at Ogilvy. To their credit are brilliant and much-awarded campaigns over the years, such as 'Savlon Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks', which won a Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix at Cannes in 2018, and other winners like HUL’s ‘Start a Little Good’ (Shower) corporate film, the #EndAcidSale film featuring survivors of acid attacks and the many iconic Brooke Bond Red Label campaigns that leave consumers moved. The creative duo talk to us at length about their friendship and partnership, for which they give due credit to their former boss Agnello Dias (currently Creative Chairman, DAN, and Co-founder & CCO of Taproot Dentsu), who paired them up as a team. They also talk about their most memorable campaigns, taking on added responsibility after their recent elevation to Chief Creative Officers at Ogilvy India and more… 



Kainaz: We first met in 2001 when I joined Leo Burnett, Harshad was already working there. And he was already a star when I joined and had done some great award-winning work and he was really down to earth and helpful. I think Harshad and I developed an instant connection with each other.

Harshad: Kainaz worked with a different group, of course. But we all got along super well together. In fact, she and I became friends very quickly. And while last week marked our 10-year partnership at Ogilvy, it’s interesting to know that the actual formal partnership started in 2007, but 2001 is when we actually became friends.

Kainaz: In 2007, we both were at the then JWT. I had gone there with Aggie (Agnello Dias) in 2006, and Harshad joined in 2007. It was Aggie who paired us up as partners.

Harshad: Aggie was the one who made us into a team, but before that too, Arvind Sharma who used to head Leo Burnett, was very fond of working with both of us. On several occasions, especially on new business pitches, he would insist on Kainaz and I working together to take on pitches and stuff. But Aggie formalized it in 2007 and made us into the working unit that you see today.

On their unique creative synergy

Harshad: Kainaz has this term which I'm absolutely in love with – she says, “When two people good at their art come together, 1 and 1 doesn't become 2; 1 and 1 can create magic and become 11.” So, in some ways, that's a very rare equation to discover, feel, and form. You have to vibe together with the other person. When you realize that this person actually feeds off what you have to say, or you feed off what comes out of that person's head, you know you have the same wavelength to kind of jam in musical terms. That jamming session is very important. So, when a brief comes, most of our actual hardcore ideation happens in an environment like a café where both of us are just facing each other. Whatever is the brief at hand, we try and really simplify it to what is the one thing that we need to communicate, and then we jam. So, it could be moments and minutes of silence until one of us will burst out with ‘What if we do something like this…’ And then begins the process of what will work and what won’t.

Kainaz: I just want to add that the silences are usually the time when copious amounts of food and coffee and tea are had!


Kainaz: Anytime you change your role or take on more responsibilities, you have to magically find a way to do more. There is no logical way that anybody can handle the ship that is Ogilvy and find the time to brainstorm and create work and do everything that is expected. But somehow everybody at the helm of Ogilvy has been able to do it, starting with Piyush (Pandey) who is an absolute legend and force of nature. So Harshad and I have the same goal and luckily we partner Sukesh (Nayak) who also has the same goal. So we just have to keep expanding our day and learn the ropes and try to find a way whereby our work does not suffer.

Harshad: It's a bit like having two engines on a plane. So at any given time, you know that even if one stalls or has something else to tend to, if one of us goes on leave, or gets roped into another project, the beauty about our partnership is there are instances when both of us are looking at different projects, but we never treat them as our separate projects. 


Kainaz: It's very difficult to single out but the Savlon Healthy Hands-Chalk Sticks would definitely figure in the top 4 or 5 pieces of work. The HUL shower ad is one that is very close to our hearts.

Harshad: Hindustan Unilever's Shower ad (Start a Little Good corporate campaign for the company on water conservation) last year and the Savlon one are both very dear. The HUL campaign was also the project that came with a very challenging deadline, and yet we managed to make it into something beautiful, which some other team would have needed half a month or a month to do. While these two campaigns are special, so are at least half a dozen more pieces over the 10-year journey at Ogilvy. These campaigns are landmarks in our own journey. There was another piece of work we did for Dainik Bhaskar a few years ago - Zidd Karo Duniya Badlo (in support of girl child education) which moved us a lot. Before that, there was the #EndAcidSale campaign featuring the acid attack survivor, Reshma, that was really special. These landmarks keep changing and for once, we understand why a lot of people who have a volume of work will often tell you that the best is yet to come. We have done some work which we are tremendously happy about, but Kainaz and I strictly adhere to the fact that there's a lot more wonderful work that is yet to come.

Kainaz: We have received a lot of compliments on completing 10 years, but we have also been very lucky to have some absolutely passionate and stellar clients. We don't think this entire story would have been possible if we didn't have clients who believed in us so much.

Savlon Healthy Hands-Chalk Sticks ad

HUL shower ad

Beauty tips by Reshma:


Harshad: Right now, Kainaz and I are looking at a jam-packed schedule where we have at least four or five meetings lined up before we end a day. But within that, we have been creating those moments, those islands of our brainstorming time where we can function and do our kind of work.

Kainaz: We block our ideation time as meeting time in our calendars so that we don't skip it because working in a lockdown requires an entirely different kind of discipline than you are used to at work. There are several distractions and no house help. We are working more than we ever did. But there is also the understanding that this time requires it. This is the time when we absolutely need to be by our clients’ side and partner them. This is the time that some businesses are genuinely in trouble and we need to support them.

Read a longer version of the interview here.

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