<b>Kartik Iyer</b>, CEO, Happy Creative Services
<p align=justify><b>Our vision, our commitment, our oneness, and the stupid belief that we can be the best in the world. We have a work culture that defines that you are either in or you are out. There is no room for free floating mediocrity. We don’t do mindless work for money, hence we don’t need people who do that kind of work. We don’t even entertain clients who are willing to pay loads of money for it. We have 8-12 hours in a day. The time and energy spent are the same. So, why waste it on a high roller who is a low blower?</b></p>
Our vision, our commitment, our oneness, and the stupid belief that we can be the best in the world. We have a work culture that defines that you are either in or you are out. There is no room for free floating mediocrity. We don’t do mindless work for money, hence we don’t need people who do that kind of work. We don’t even entertain clients who are willing to pay loads of money for it. We have 8-12 hours in a day. The time and energy spent are the same. So, why waste it on a high roller who is a low blower?
When WorldSpace came out with the award winning AR Rahman campaign, it became instantly popular with its exclusive signature tune and excellent cinematography. The man behind the conception and execution of the ad was Kartik Iyer. He is the CEO and Co-founder of Happy Creative Services, a four-year old creative ‘ideashop’.
Iyer began his journey in advertising as an intern in December 1995 with Fifth Estate Communications. In May-June 1996, he joined Ivy League with only four people in the agency, where he was the only junior copywriter. In April 1998, he joined Goldwire Communications as Group Head in Chennai, subsequently moving to Bangalore in October 1999. He was brought in to resurrect the creative operations of the branch. During his tenure there, he handled the largest ever edition of Bangalore IT.com in 2000. Turning the branch into a profit centre in one year, he was soon promoted as the Bangalore Branch Head. After a successful stint in Goldwire Bangalore, Aubrey Sequira, CEO of Goldwire, brought him back to the head office as CD of the group at the age of 24.
In April 2001, he started over as a copy trainee for six months and later on became Group Head at Y&R in Dubai under Shahir Zag. In November 2003, when he was in the post of ACD, he left the agency and returned to India, doing freelance work for a while as he was intent on joining O&M and no other agency. In May 2004, he joined O&M, Bangalore where he worked with V Mahesh and Rajiv Rao. It was here that he produced the WorldSpace Rahman campaign.
He met Praveen Das at O&M and they ‘hit it off’ instantly. They set up Happy Creative Services in May 2007 and have worked with brands such as Lee, Myntra.com, Basics Life, and Flipkart.com. The character ‘Chamarajpet Charles’ for Radio One was one of their first creations. They also came up with the concept for the ‘Incredible India’ campaign two years ago produced by Nirvana Films. The ad won the ‘World’s Best Tourism Commercial Award’ in 2009. More recently, Happy has been credited with the successful launch of Flipkart.com and the “No Kidding. No worries Campaign”, which features young children acting as adults.
Iyer is also well-known in the comedy circuit as a stand-up comedian performing under the stage name of the HigherIyer Show.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Sai Prasanna, Iyer speaks about starting Happy, independent creative shops, the current advertising scenario in India and more…
The main motive of creating an ad or communication is that it should affect people in some way or the other. There is no point of a campaign that is packaged well, but has no effect whatsoever on people. Some memorable ads are those of Cadbury, Vodafone’s Zoozoo and ‘Har Ek Friend’ by Airtel.
Q. What are the chances of survival of independent creative agencies in the South and overall? Do you see them retaining their identity and getting business from the big guys or eventually going in for a buyout by a larger agency?
Q. What are the key points that you think work in favour of an independent ‘idea shop’, as you call yourselves, as opposed to an established agency?
Q. There was an understanding and general consensus at AdAsia this year that advertising is becoming more ‘Indianised’ rather than going the international route. Do you see this actually happening or is it just another trend that is being seen in the majority?
Q. Why did you decide to choose Bangalore as your base rather than ad hubs such as Mumbai or Delhi?
Q. What was the main motive for establishing an independent creative hotshop rather than moving to an established agency from O&M? Are you staying true to that motive or has it diluted over the past five years?
Q. What is the kind of growth that the agency has seen since its opening in May 2007? How many accounts have you acquired over the past six months? What is the size of billings that you have registered over the last year?
Q. Which are the categories of clients that you are catering to right now? What is the category that is witnessing rapid growth that will, in turn, contribute a large chunk to the advertising segment in the South?
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