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Big agencies have become factories; factories don’t create leaders: Viral Pandya, Out of the Box

04-July-2011
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Big agencies have become factories; factories don’t create leaders: Viral Pandya, Out of the Box

He believes in Karma and success for him is the happiness of his clients. After spending 19 years in the industry and working with biggies like Saatchi & Saatchi, Mudra, Grey and Cheil, Viral Pandya found solace in founding Out of the Box. With an office on the terrace, there is a direct connection with God, and inspiration for award winning work comes from ‘within’, says Pandya, Founder, Out of the Box, in a freewheeling interview with exchange4media post striking Gold at the recently concluded Cannes Lions 2011…

What was the brief for the campaign? Who were your target audience?
The brief was to emphasise the many activities at school in an engaging manner, while highlighting the new tagline ‘Love blossoms here’. While normally any brand would communicate to ‘sell’ and that’s what matters to marketers, we did not have any product to sell. We just had a philosophy, a belief and a trust. We love kids and wanted to share these experiences with both new parents as well as the couples who are going to be parents tomorrow, and for everyone who loves children. More importantly, we also wanted to share this with the Mother’s Pride staff. We wanted to re-emphasise our way of thinking with our over 2,500 employees, so that the core value of the brand is constantly made relevant, and the passion is kept alive.

What was the idea?
For the last four years, we were using ‘See them blossom’ as the tagline for Mother’s Pride. And as we evolved our thinking and focused more clearly, we decided to push the envelope on our brand’s core value – ‘love’. ‘Love Blossoms Here’ was created from the core value that we love children. Through that, we also wanted to underline our commitment to nurturing and giving children the space, encouragement, and freedom to bloom and blossom.

We used different illustrations of flowers in full bloom, which on closer observation reveal themselves to be children. Most of them dancing, playing, taking part in festivals, etc.

This was also probably the first time we took a conscious and strategic decision that Mother’s Pride will speak about the various exciting programmes they do to bring out the best in children holistically – between two and four years.

How long did it take you to develop the campaign? Could you share some special memories while creating this campaign?
We started working on this in November 2009. We got Bombay Duck Design to collaborate with us to create 10 entirely different techniques of illustration. We did hundreds of layouts, kept on rewriting the copy to make it extremely simple. It was a long and tedious process that took around nine months from start to  finish, but totally worth the Gold!

What does winning at Cannes mean for you? Is this your first win?
Yes, this is our first win at Cannes. With just an entry that was sent! It’s very important for anyone who loves creativity as it clearly puts his or her work in perspective with the world.

Did you expect Gold when you sent this entry? What makes it different?
Quite frankly, we only entered this single piece. The reason was simple, we have seen a lot of work from the world earlier and we were very hopeful with the one we created. I would also like to mention here that the kind of ‘gambling’ the big agencies enjoy doing, we don’t. We want to make the best use for our monies and we are fairly clear as to what to enter and where.

To me, this work is a labour of love and I think the jury felt the same. The ‘innocence’ of the idea speaks for itself.

You have been winning awards every year. What do you think is the biggest strength of Out Of the Box (OOTB)?
Our biggest strength is our people. Except for two teammates who come from agencies, none of other eight people have any agency experience. But these people are extremely passionate, hard working and totally committed.
Secondly, there is no servicing department. We work on everything – from briefings to meetings to fights to ideation to execution to everything!


Is it easy to survive when there are these very large agencies competing with you? What keeps OOTB ticking in such situation?
We are clearly NOT competing with anyone here! We are just trying to raise our own benchmarks and do our country proud.

Do you think Indian agencies today focus on design? How important is design for communication?
Some agencies do. Most don’t. In fact, I would be surprised if many business leaders in the country – both in agencies and clients – would know the difference between art and design.

So when people who don’t know how to appreciate, judge, evaluate, or even recognise design and its criticality are in positions where they can influence and foster design, you know what happens?

I personally think conventional advertising is dying. Today, design plays a greater role as it can give a new experience and meaning to the desired communication. Consumers want instant gratification and are making a lot of impulsive purchase. This is where design can play a huge role, engaging them and leaving them with a sense of pride, love, sensuality and a kind of belonging with the brand.

Is winning awards important for you? What does it do for you as a creative hub?
I think every human wants to win in this world. Winning is embedded in every one of us. More than that, you need to know where you stand in a global context, and awards help you calibrate your calibre.

The idea is not to divert from the main focus in whatever we do and keep walking with milestones in mind. The important thing is having ‘PASSION’ in whatever you do.

You have worked with some of the best agencies in India and then started on your own. Could you highlight some pros and cons of working in a bigger outfit vis-à-vis working on your own?
Most big advertising agencies are led by very selfish bosses, and to an extent, extremely self centred and insecure people.

I am yet to come across one who looked at and acknowledged creativity and creative as being the heart of the business. Bad myopic leadership and divided egoistic leadership are precisely why advertising, as we knew it, has been destroyed. They never had the vision and never had the perspective to guide the industry where it ought to have been.

The idea of creativity is about freedom. So, in an environment where accountants drive survival and rewire the systems to benefit themselves, there is no time to celebrate, push, and open wallets for creativity.

Big agencies have become factories, and factories don’t create leaders and passion. They make mindless followers – people who are scared, timid, and who work to earn a living. Not to create a trend, not to create an original brand, not push the envelope, not to innovate and reinvent thinking.

The current infrastructure, remuneration policies, and the leadership paradigm are inert and neutered, which is why great talent is moving out of big agencies, which is why great talent will always eject themselves and start doing their own things and create their own agencies.

That’s what creativity is all about. You can’t imprison creative people. They will escape your jails. And they will build their own forts. No accountant can do that.

Thankfully, barring one or two rare big agencies, there are very many clients out there who respect and push for people who can add value to their brands. Clients who will continue to see value and merit in associating and encouraging top end creative to spur their brand and their communication by allowing freedom and inspiration and encouragement.

This is where Out of the Box fits in. This is where Independence fits in. And this is where the best creative will always happen and be found.

Big agencies, unless they trash the rubbish, will continue to stink.

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