Piyush Pandey is a figure who rightfully stands tall and proud in the landscape of Indian advertising. With a string of blockbuster campaigns to his credit, Piyush has been a major catalyst in getting India recognised as a creative talent powerhouse globally. His work speaks as to why. Here is an example of an ad for Fevi Kwik that has become a classic. Watch!
Fevi Kwik is not the only ad that Piyush and his team at Ogilvy have made into classics. There are many other brand campaigns created for Asian Paints, Cadbury, Pidilite and Vodafone, to name just a few.
So when the mastermind behind campaigns envied by the industry publishes a book titled Pandeymonium, you would expect the book to live up to its title, right?
Sadly, it does not!
I have just finished reading 244 pages of Pandeymonium: Piyush Pandey On Advertising and have walked away with a feeling of disappointment.
The uppermost question in my mind is what compelled Piyush to write this book? He attributes the reason to his friend Anant Rangaswami who he says persuaded him to do the act.
That maybe so but every great piece of communication must have an objective and I don’t see the objective of this book other than a walk down memory lane for the author himself. If that was, indeed, the only objective then I withdraw my statement and will put down my feeling let down to my expectations.
Having said that, industry greats have a legacy to leave. That legacy can be in the form of a body of great work. Piyush has achieved that in spades.
But leaders in any industry have another obligation and that is to inspire and teach the generations that follow. It is this obligation, more than any other, which will ensure that a great legacy lives on through the work of successors.
Maybe Piyush is fulfilling his obligation to young aspirants in his agency, Ogilvy. I am sure he is.
But to my way of thinking, Piyush had an opportunity, through his book, to fire up a whole generation of youngsters on the overall subject of creative thinking and execution.
The book fails there even though it is peppered with examples of the great campaigns created during Piyush Pandey’s tenure in Ogilvy. The problem is that the campaigns are mentioned without getting into an in-depth dialogue on the creation process itself.
There is one exception though. If you want to know more about how Ogilvy came up with the now famous ZooZoos campaign for Vodafone, read the book. You will learn something for it!
If I were to be more than fair to Piyush, I must also admit that he does try to share his formula for success here and there in the pages he has penned.
I even found myself nodding in agreement at several such places especially when he says, “When you have a question, look for answers in your own personal Google – your family and friends.” I was in total agreement there but with one caveat. That principle is a good one to follow providing your family and friends are representative of the consumer segment being marketed to. There’s a reason for the adage “living in an ivory tower” you know? And, I have seen the unfortunate consequences of ivory tower thinking in too many ads in my career to count!
The other absolute gem that delighted me was when he suggests that multinational companies should be renamed multicultural companies.
Perhaps Piyush has too much to share. Because other than a few such gems, the book does not create Pandeymonium in the reader’s mind.
At least, it didn’t for me.
As I said, the book just left me wondering about a couple of basic questions in communication:
- What is the objective of this book?
- Which target audience is this book aiming for?
Thinking about the possible answers to these questions, the only conclusion I could reach was that the book, in the end, is a 244-page politically correct memoir and possibly a PR exercise for Ogilvy, India.
I wish it had been otherwise.
Let me leave you with an amusing anecdote from my own career.
In the period 1992-95, when I was in Lintas (now Lowe), Piyush and I were competitors on the Cadbury account. Both agency teams were working on the “get adults to eat chocolates” brief issued by Rajeev Bakshi who was then heading the Marketing effort at Cadbury. Piyush talks about the time in his book and how he was in Orlando when Ranjan Kapoor asked him to fly back to save the Cadbury account. Piyush used his observations of seventy plus people behaving like kids in Orlando as the inspiration for the hit Asli Swad Zindagi Ka campaign (translated that means ‘The real taste of life’).
Rajeev showed me the yet-to-be-aired commercial and asked me what I thought. It was the one time my judgement in creative went completely off the rails. I disliked the commercial on sight because I thought the woman dancing was in bad taste. Rajeev thought I was mad and told me so.
The commercial was released and was a mega box-office hit. Here’s a look:
Piyush created Pandeymonium with that Cadbury Dairy Milk television commercial. But not so with this book. But who knows I maybe wrong here too!
Featured Cover Image Credit: Pandeymonium Piyush Pandey On Advertising Book Cover – Image by Lata Subramanian