“Stay relevant; Stay nervous:” Piyush Pandey

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By Papri Das

“Stay relevant; Stay nervous” is the keynote that Pandeymonium strikes. That is the name of Indian ad guru Piyush Pandey’s new book on advertising.

Published by Penguin India, Pandeymonium released with great pomp and show on 13 October amidst the cr?me de la cr?me of the advertising and media fraternity. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that no other book launch in recent times has seen such a remarkable turn out that Pandeymonium did -- almost a thousand people seated in the gallery of Jamshed Bhaba Theater at NCPA Mumbai lauded Pandey for his genius.

And why not, when icons like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are present under the same roof to enjoy an evening of reminiscence, camaraderie, poetry, elocution and thanksgiving.

Giving a clever twist to the word ‘pandemonium’, which means ‘free spirit,’ Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia chairman and creative director Piyush Pandey has interlaced the matter of the book with personal anecdotes.

Calling it his “way of looking at life,” Pandey tells Indiantelevision.com’s Exec Life that Pandeymonium can also be looked upon as a guiding light for the upcoming generation of advertising and marketing enthusiasts. “This book is what I have learnt the maximum from. People who like my way of working will get to know where I have picked up my creative ideas from,” says Pandey, before humbly adding that “it's no rocket science.”

“Everyone has been more or less exposed to the things I have been exposed to. Through this book, I have tried to motivate people to enjoy their culture, family, society, language, and country.”

Through an informal back and forth between himself and Bachchan, who was the chief guest of the night, Pandey revealed the vital role his childhood and his family has played in sculpting him and his creative insight.

The powerful role that elocution and language played in his life is evident from the excerpt he reads from his book’s preface, which is infused with essence from his childhood in Jaipur.

“I think the maximum time anyone spends is with their family. And your growing up years, when you are not conditioned, is the time when you experience the most beautiful and pure things in life. Your family and friends are a big part of it. Your neighbours are a big part of it. I have underlined such people in my life and shared how I have learned from them,” he shares.

Pandey doesn’t consider it be a mark of insecurity if one consults their family and friends and run them through their ideas. “Sometimes we are in the habit of holding onto ideas. It takes away from the creative process if we don’t entertain healthy criticism. I have always run my ideas through my sister and my friends,” he says, encouraging others to have soundboards for their ideas as well.

Pandey acknowledges that his bond with super star Amitabh Bachchan, who has graciously given a foreword to his book, has transcended its professional boundaries. They are friends and well wishers now, having collaborated with each on number of iconic ad campaigns like Cadbury, Polio’s ‘Do Boond Zindagi Ke’ campaign and Tourism of Gujarat.

“What will remain with me are the two months I spend with Mr Bachchan when we were travelling through Gujarat for their campaign for Tourism of Gujarat. I got to share amazing memories, make him laugh at my jokes and share insights on life. I must mention here that we both paid respects to our late mothers on the ghats of Sidhpur, the only place in India where you can do shraddha for your mothers,” reveals Pandey.

Of the campaigns that the two have done together, Polio’s stands out in Pandey’s memory as it has been the most successful, going by the result. By 2012, India has been completely eradicated of Polio, as per a UN survey. Pandey says the credit not only goes to Bachchan’s compelling power to move the viewers through his ‘angry young man’ image, but also the many doctors and medics who worked on field to ensure every village received the vaccine.

While discussing about responsible advertising, when asked his opinion on native advertising, Pandey shares, “People will reject your story or the creative product if you try to be a salesman in disguise. Once the purpose of advertising is established to the public, I feel if you do not destroy the original and are able to blend it right, it's okay, otherwise it sticks out like a sore thumb.”

Pandey has been witness to the many a changes that the industry has been through -- from radio and print, to television broadcast and now digital and social media. Ask him if every change posed new challenges to him, he simply says, “There are no new challenges, only new opportunities. If you have a great idea, now you have many a medium to channel them through. My words for the yesteryear's advertisers and new digital advertisers is to take it as an opportunity, not as a problem. Never forget that at the end of the day, you will need an idea.”

Appreciating the possibilities that the digital platform has introduced to advertisers, Pandey also warns not to rule out any medium either. “New media is not even 20 per cent of the total advertising. It has only added a new paradigm. Do not write off anything ever, and do not be afraid to use new avenues,” the ad guru concludes.

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