The formality of a pitch today is rapidly changing: Sagar Kapoor, Lowe Lintas

Kapoor was recently named the CCO of Lowe Lintas and has spent a decade and a half with the agency here credited for some of the most iconic campaigns like Lifebuoy’s #HelpAChildReach5

Sagar kapoor

At Lowe, it’s the people you work with that you remember,” exclaims Lowe’s Sagar Kapoor in conversation with exchange4media. Kapoor who was recently named the CCO of the agency has spent a decade and a half here, has been credited for some of the most iconic campaigns like Lifebuoy’s #HelpAChildReach5, including Gondappa and Future Child that were implemented globally and has consistently been one of the most awarded global campaigns for over five years. 

He’s been the Global Creative lead for the brand, Lifebuoy, with work that’s published in over 40 countries. Kapoor chatted exclusively with us on his new role, the “big” idea and how pitches and client-agency interactions have evolved for good.

Edited excerpts below:

You have been with the agency for over 15 years, starting off as a trainee to going on to become a CCO, take us through the whole phase of growing and learning through Lintas?
It has been 16 odd years with Lintas now. I have never stepped out of the agency. Never felt the need to. I started off as a trainee writer where was in the activation cell. Then went on to join the mainline part of it with Amer. I worked for 10-12 years with him. Worked with Arun for three years and then Amer again. I have worked with brands like Johnsons, Tata Tea, UTI, ICICI, a lot of financial accounts. Lot of Mutual Funds advertising happened in between and I worked with a healthy mix of brands.

At Lowe, it’s the people you work with that you remember. You learn a lot from them. I have worked around Arun and with him. So a lot of learnings have come from that. The role is new and there will be a lot of new things to be done. But the culture and people are still the same.

How did you get into advertising? What was the first brand you worked on?
I was very fond of writing right from school days. By the time I finished college there was a group of people in advertising whom I knew. There was an Irani cafe where we use to hang out and the group use to come there. I found the conversations very interesting. I was very clear that it was advertising that I want to do. Johnsons was the first brand I worked on.

Since you look after all the offices in the South, are there any regional trends that you notice?
I have just taken over the mandate of the Bangalore office. The reality is while all these offices are sitting in the South, they are still all national brands. I come largely from a Unilever background so for me what is interesting is to use these cross-learnings and put them to use which is very exciting as a process. The marketing heads that I meet there are younger and much more eager to go beyond TV and trusting us as a main line agency to come up with that.

You've worked with Lifebuoy for the longest of time. As a communicator's journey where you've worked over its design, vision and ambition, how do you look back at it all?
Lifebuoy is a brand that beautifully kept evolving itself. Because we also worked on the global mandate of Lifebuoy. There is nuanced work in every region. It gives you a very interesting means of learning. If there is an insight which has worked for Saudi Arabia, you never know, it might work for India as well. There is a lot to borrow from one and feed into another. Our briefs with Lifebuoy are more conversations than paper. And more discussions than presentations. The creative and the clarity have worked out for the brand.

But do you see more pitches today moving over flashy presentations for more pragmatic conversations?
Last three or four pitches I am actually seeing that. A pitch is a very formal process as you’re meeting the team for the first time. But these days, prospective clients are ready to do meetings before the pitch meeting itself. We’re having a lot of free-flowing chats with them. In those kind of conversations what you get, you’ll never get on a brief. The formality of a pitch today is rapidly changing.

What do you think of the criticism that most big industries are too stuck in the ‘big' idea?
I have always been a firm believer in the big idea. But to me what a big idea means is that you can present it in innumerable ways. The largeness of it is that you cut it in a number of ways and every cut is efficient enough to engage people independently too. And that’s what makes it a big idea. With the amount of platforms that we are having conversations on, it’s about many stories on one brand. If you manage to have an idea that lends itself to every kind of storytelling and execution, that’s what makes it big.

What is the new creative approach that you would like to bring to the forefront as we go forward?
It’s not for us to form a new creative approach but what is important for us is to understand the business problems of our clients and uncover business solutions for that. It’s not about creating a model and asking them to put their problems in that but rather taking the logical flow of understanding the problem and developing an approach for it. The kind of enthusiasm the brands are showing is great. If had gone to a brand five years back with an activation or an on- ground idea, chances are they would say “Nice but what is with the TVC?” But now we are seeing a lot of enthusiasm from their side towards these things which has made it really interesting.

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