Wives, children, sisters, mom-in-law -more than 20 family members will be in Cannes to watch Pandey brothers create history

As the Pandey brothers leave for the French Rivera on Saturday evening, exchange4media caught up with the two to find out about the final preparations, excitement, fondness for each other's work and much more

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Updated: Jun 15, 2018 9:00 AM

Come next Friday, and Pandey brothers—Piyush and Prasoon-- are all set to create history for Asia. They are the first Asians to receive Cannes Lion of St Mark, a title given for the most outstanding contribution for creativity in advertising. They are also perhaps the first recipients to have almost two dozen people travelling to Cannes only to witness the historic moment.

“Well, its 17 plus four of us,” says Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director of South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather Pvt. Ltd, as younger brother Prasoon, Director of his own production house Corcoise Films, sits beside him at their Mahim home in Mumbai.

The elaborate guest list includes wives (of both the brothers), children, four sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law and an ardent client, Mr Parekh of Pidilite and his family.

“The award is a great honour and recognition, but now the excitement is to see how everyone from across the globe is coming to be a part of the celebration,” says Piyush.

As the duo leaves for the French Rivera on Saturday evening exchange4media caught up with them to know about their final preparations, their fondness for each other's work and much more. You can read the edited excerpts below or catch the entire conversation here:  

Here are the edited excerpts:

Have your respective wives and sisters got designer outfits done for you two for the big day?

Piyush: Well that hasn’t changed in the last 50 years for me. They always think that I am not properly dressed. For this occasion, my wife and wife of my friend Rajiv Rao (former National Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather) have collaborated to make me look sensible.

Prasoon: Our wives are also chilled out. They know us well.

Piyush: But yes, we will wear something that has India’s symbol. I want to wear India on my heart.

Most of your ads are rooted in the Indian culture. Do you see more younger people doing it now? 

Piyush: I think the advertising in India came a little late as compared to the west. So there was a lot of western influence. But now things have changed. The only caution I give to youngsters is that think of an idea; Indianness is not an idea. You need to find ways to express your ideas through your culture. Culture is never an idea. It’s not that if it’s Diwali, I should show Diwali. It should be about what happens during Diwali; what is that wonderful human moment associated with Diwali. So Diwali becomes the backdrop and the emotion becomes the idea.

A latest ad (not yours) that you both liked the most?

Piyush: All Swiggy ads, particularly the one where the husband orders a single gulab jamun. It shows a wife who is concerned about the not-so-healthy husband. Husband’s desire to have that one gulab jamun… these are beautiful moments.

Prasoon: If you see here (the Swiggy ad), the Indianness does not have to be in the face, but it is still Indian. If you see around, your uncle is like that or may be your father is like that. It is an Indian family. Indianness should not mean that you have to wear a pagadi. If it is fitting in naturally, you can wear it but don’t force it.

Sir John Hegatry (BBH) recently said that only 10% ads are good creative, rest all are bad. What do you think about it?

Piyush: I agree with John Hegatry completely. Only 10% ads are very good and 90% ads are not so good, and that applies to the United Kingdom also. However, there is immense potential and even if we take it to 18%, we will be ahead of many evolved countries.

Prasoon: Even with 10%, we should feel proud of ourselves. There are many developed countries where the split would be 95% and 5%. We are at least 10%. Even in countries like the US, 95% things that you see on any channel are completely trash. However, the 5% would be spectacular. ButBthere are many countries which may have a mumuchighhi split.

Which countries, you think, may rate higher on creativity quotient than us?

Piyush: There are many countries that do very good work. I think the percentages do not matter. But I personally like a lot of work that comes out of the UK, Thaliand, South Africa and Japan. It’s not about country but the people.

Prasoon: South America also

What is your favourite work of each other? 

Prasoon: For me it would be ‘Mile sur mera tumhara’. It broke a lot of dogmas that were assumed in nationalism. There is no mention of the word India or country in it. It's is an expression, 'let your mind and my mind come together' so everyone could read it differently. Let’s say, a husband and wife are not able to connect, then it had a meaning for them. Similarly, if a father and son have issues, it can mean different things for them. Actually, it worked on a much larger scale that we as people need to communicate.

Piyush: Undoubtedly, the huge body of work he did for The Times of India. The commercial ‘the file’ is the finest ever made in India. It has fantastic details of the state of affairs; it’s about corruption and by the end of the commercial, you don’t know whether you want to laugh or cry.

Ogilvy India did very well at Cannes 2017. What do you expect from Ogilvy’s entries to Cannes this year? 

Piyush: Ogilvy has always done very well at Cannes. I don’t believe in predicting or hoping. In fact, my suggestion to everyone is send your work if you believe in it. If you win, celebrate. If you don’t win, celebrate. 

Prasoon: It is a question every year people ask us. The problem is that the media is so fragmented that I don’t know what all is there. And it’s very difficult to predict on Cannes as what works for me may not work for someone else. I am only interested in what works for me. For example, the Swiggy gulab jamun ad is spectacular, but whether it wins or not is a different issue. Somebody has to understand and appreciate how it works here. To be honest, I may not be able to appreciate something that comes out of Vietnam. So it depends how much are they able to pick up.

Some suggestions/tips for aspiring creative directors?

Prasoon: I don’t think you should work aiming to win a certain award. You should do what your heart tells you, what you genuinely believe in. They need to respect themselves and be bolder. They give up to a lot of pressure. A lot of time when I am reading scripts, I feel a lot of things are extraneous and when you remove them, the soul of the script is excellent. Then they (youngsters) tell me that was the original idea and everyone kept coming in and adding more to it. If you genuinely believe in your idea, stick to it. 

Piyush: One thing that youngsters must never get fooled by are awards. Just do work which is appreciated by people on the street and some of this work may get you an award but never work for awards. 

Some of the items in your bucket list? 

Piyush: I want to take three months off and travel to India all over again. There is so much to learn from the country, particularly Northeast I want to explore more. 

Prasoon: Well there is a lot for me to do. I have only begun. I am already doing most of the things that I want to do. I am not working as much as you may think.

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