"Special ads will soon start storming in for mobile phones:" Rajdeepak Das


At a young age he decided to convert his passion into profession. At 21 he made his first ad and by the time he was 23, he joined Contract Advertising. At 25 he was off to BBDO Bangkok where he waited outside the office for 17 days as the security did not allow him to go inside due to a language problem.

At 28 he started BBDO Mumbai with five creative officers and five interns and took the company to new heights. He has many accolades against his name and one of them is being the youngest executive creative director. He is Leo Burnett India chief creative officer Rajdeepak Das.

A Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs fan, a firm believer in Hope, Faith, Love and Charity, Das speaks to Indiantelevision.com’s Anirban Roy Choudhury about the changing advertising industry and the role that mobile is going to play in near future.


Do you think the ad fraternity will have to start adapting to the growth of smartphones in India?

Special ads will soon start storming in for the mobile phone where the format is not landscape anymore. It will be more candid, more catchy, sometimes longer and interactive. Mobile opens a number of avenues like geo-targetting. For example, there is no point in showing a Bandra person, an ad about Delhi. Moreover, mobile also enables us to know the behavior and attitude of users. The adaptation has already started and the ad fraternity is creating special creatives and strategies for smart phones.

Do you think the device mobile phone is used a little too often in ads now?

We have 300 million TV and 500 million mobile phones and therein lay the answers. In next 10 years, the country will have 1.2 billion mobile phones, which will be three or four times more than a TV. People are on Facebook, Whatsaap, Twitter and the amount of time they spend on the mobile is way more than TV. The time spent on mobile phones is only likely to increase more with time.

Let’s take prime time for example. What has happened to prime time? It used to be from 7 pm - 10 pm but that has changed. Now the prime time is the time you are in the toilet or traveling. The phone has enabled us to decide our prime time where we can consume content at our own convenience. The mobile phone is a major target of brands and hence in every second ad there is a phone on the screen.

Do you think different treatment should be given to campaigns curated for a high magnitude and prolonged event like IPL to avoid repetitiveness?

Vodafone came up with 52 days 52 ads with their Zoo Zoo campaign during IPL. So variety is possible. We launched around five ads during this IPL. Sometimes repetition is necessary to make something noticeable hence you can’t totally get away with it.

What role is social media playing in advertising? Are shares and likes becoming one of the prime demands of clients?

I think this is one of the best times to be in the creative field. While we are solving clients’ problems, it’s not about shares and likes. It’s more about creating something that addresses the problem.

Gone are the days when advertising was just creating an ad. Now it is about understanding issues like clients problem, business problem etc. At times you might not even need an ad. A simple change in packaging, understanding the ground territory or understanding what people want can do the trick

At Burnett, we follow the philosophy of Human Kind, so we try to understand the problem from people’s point of view. Social media has emerged as a weapon for us. The interaction has become faster, we get to know the reaction immediately and if we see that we need to correct it somewhere, we go ahead and do it.

Crash the IPL was a great example of crowd sourcing. Do you think following its success, it can become a trend and disrupt the ad agency?

If I want something to be written, I can go to the crowd. There are many amateur writers. All of them will send something but will it carry a solution for the brand? Maybe… maybe not.

It is not necessary that quality content can become a quality solution. So with crowd sourcing, the chances of hit are less and miss are more while an agency will surely provide you with a solution.

Interaction with crowd will always be there. There will be more interactive creative campaigns, which will make people talk about it. But for the time being, I don’t see crowd sourcing becoming a trend and hurting ad agencies.

Due to YouTube and other technical innovations, foreign ads have become easily accessible and with that emerged a competitive debate. Where do you see us compared to them?

What works in India will work anywhere in the world. We cry, we smile, we fall in love, we have desires and greed and that’s the same everywhere. I love Japanese ads and ads of Thailand. So if it is good work, it will garner global recognition.

The difference is in quality of production. Their crafting is better than us and they exhibit some quality work. Having said that, we are not far behind. Our directors are getting better as is our story telling. At the creative thinking level, we are at par if not better than them.

Do you think out of the box ideas, which once created can be recreated? And if it is recreated, will it work?

It depends on the story telling and how well the execution is. Dil Chahta Hai,Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Rock On had the same story. Did it work? Of course it did. It worked and it became bigger and better. So out of the box concepts will always stand out and there will be many more recreations. It will be a mix of new and old, depending on the need of the brand. Everything will work if it is done eloquently.

What should young minds who aspire to become an ad man do? Is classroom education enough?

Classroom education is not enough. They should start working as soon as possible. Work for small clients, less money but work. They should start practicing the art as early as possible. The greatest of minds in this world are college dropouts. I am not insisting anyone to dropout from college but them becoming big have a reason.

They learn by themselves. For them, learning 5+5 = 10 is not as easy as it is for someone in college and schools. In the process of learning 5+5 = 10, they learnt 10 different things, which made them what they are. I want all of them who aspire to become an ad man to start working as early as possible and that will take them a long way.

What do you like about the advertising industry and is there anything that the industry should change?

The beauty of our industry is that whether it is an intern or a chief creative officer, we all start by looking at an empty white page. Whoever cracks the idea and comes with a better concept is victorious. So there’s a subtle unanimity in all hierarchal positions. In other words, there is no boss or everyone is the boss.

The thing that the advertising industry needs to change is to stop making an ad, if it is not necessary. An ad is not the solution of each and every problem. We should understand the problem and address it. After duly understanding the problem, if there is a need of an ad, only then should we go for it. Ads shouldn’t be a subject of hatred for consumers. We can’t keep interrupting someone with a pop-up ad. By doing that, we will only manage to get skipped and nothing beyond that.

What’s the way forward for Rajdeepak Das?

I love what I do and there is one thing that I will do till my last breath and that is ads. I want to keep making quality ads provide creative solutions to brands, which helps them rejuvenate their statistics. I believe in the four magical words that I saw written on Steve Jobs’ grave: Hope, Faith, Love and Charity and that says it all.

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