Advertising is applied art: Harshad Rajadhyaksha & Sukesh Nayak, Ogilvy

The CCO duo discussed 'creativity in television - what works, what doesn’t!' in a fireside chat at the fourth edition of e4m TV First

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 25, 2022 9:01 AM  | 4 min read
TV First

"Creativity might not look like a factor responsible for achieving business goals, it is mutually exclusive to the growth of any brand - be it in terms of immediate sales, or cultivating long-term brand love," stated the CCO duo from Ogilvy India, Harshad Rajadhyaksha & Sukesh Nayak, while speaking at the recently concluded e4m TV First Conclave. They were discussing creativity in television advertising with Impact Associate Editor Neeta Nair. 

“We have never been delusional about creativity being for its own sake. It has to give the clients some business assurance that it is moving towards the targets they want to achieve. They are investing money and it should bring them some return. Advertising, after all, is an applied art. That’s what we have learned and that’s what we try to work towards at Ogilvy,” Rajadhyaksha said. 

Nayak highlighted that Ogilvy has always been an agency that stands behind solid ideas and that’s what eventually helps them in creating campaigns that are not just creatively satisfying but also serve business purposes. “There are many people who don’t like to watch ads and we always strive to create something that surprises these people and prompts them to watch the ad.” The duo added that the end goal is always to either create sales or brand love with their ads. 

On being asked whether they feel the pressure to create work that stands out amidst the clutter that advertising has become these days with the humungous growth of brands and creators, Nayak replied, “There are always people who do great work and they stand out. There are some people who do average work and they create the clutter. Yes, it is challenging but there are always people who manage to create great work.”

Rajadhyaksha added, “Obviously, the advertising space is far more crowded now but it is the telling of the times we are living in today. Even if you look at the entertainment content that is being made today, it is so different from the 80s and 90s when we were growing up. Everyone has this pressure to create something that stands out. But this is the challenge that makes our work even more exciting.” 

To this Nair questioned if they approach each brief with the aim to create a masterpiece. Rajadhyaksha chuckled as he candidly replied, “Once a student asked a learned advertising person, what is the amount of creativity that I should put in a piece of work. To which the person replied that you might have all the ingredients to cook a meal and recipe book to follow, but one thing that can completely make or break your dish is the amount of salt you put in. But no recipe book will tell you how much salt to put in. It is always swaad anusaar (according to taste). So, yes, we all want each ad to be a creative masterpiece but the amount of creativity that goes in depends on a lot many factors.”

Nayak agreed, “No one wants to put a bad piece of work out there. Even today, after so many years of working in the field, I always feel nervous while starting a new project. I always feel what if I get it wrong. And that’s what makes it worth it for me. The day I start feeling that I know it all, I will stop creating.”

Nair also discussed with them how the volatile nature of the web and sharp reactions from the audience has impacted their creative processes. 

Rajadhyaksha shared that the only thing they keep in mind is that they are not unnecessarily sensationalising a matter just to get instant eyeballs. “It can boomerang against you pretty hard if you create something to get that instant virality or sensation. But if a matter sits well with your brand, matches your DNA and you truly believe in it, it will work in favour of the brand.”

Nayak corroborated, “It also becomes easier for a brand to stand by a controversial ad if they actually believe in the matter and their heart is at the right place.” 

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