This week's Adland Rockstar is Mayur Varma, creative controller, O&M.
How did you get into advertising?
I’m a BSc Computer Science Graduate from Kolkata and my first job was in a multimedia design company where I was doing more of programming. But thanks to my inclination towards art, I gradually became an animator, shifted to Bombay on the same job and for some family reason I had to get back. The head of Euro RSCG, Kolkata who’d worked with me before in the multimedia company found out that I was back in Kolkata and she called me over for a meeting. That’s how I started in advertising. I worked there for about three months, moving on to O&M Kolkata for 3 years, after which I shifted to O&M Mumbai. I’ve been here ever since.
What are your memories of your first week in advertising?
I think the first week is the same for all people in advertising. They just spend it observing people how they work. Although I’d spent about 3 years working in another field, the way people work in advertising is extremely different than any other. You wouldn’t find any other place where people are not working during office hours and then suddenly working at night. It took me a little while to get used to it, but I enjoyed it. You realise that your 8-hour day could turn into a 24-hour day and you know you can crack the idea at any point of time. Till the time you’re just two hours away from your deadline. This is something everyone gets used to in their first week of advertising. So as a new employee, there’s a lot to grasp and I was learning every moment. It took me about 3-4 months before I could raise my hand and tell my creative director, “I have an idea!”
What’s one thing you really like about your job?
It just gives me immense - but for want of a better word -‘power’ to speak to a lot of people and not many people get that opportunity. Our politicians get it, our filmstars get it and then we get it. I’m not sure if I’m am able to do something really good with it, but I know someday maybe I’ll be able to make use of this power in some way, by communicating my point of view, or a brand’s point of view that I really agree with. In advertising, there are pressures of a different kind which one enjoys – and I have some friends in the technical field who are bored with their job and they need a drink in the night before they go to sleep. I don’t need to.
What’s one thing you don’t like about advertising?
I think, as an industry, there is a lot of mediocrity here. That is the reason why it is becoming more of a factory. It’s not a specialised field anymore. And as a result of deadline pressures, we don’t push ourselves too much, we don’t go with the best idea that we have. Thanks to this, a lot of really talented people are getting into specialised fields like design. Or writing screenplays.
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
As I told you, the stress here is of a good kind. So a bad day doesn’t happen. Frankly speaking – and this may sound a little odd – but I’ve not had a bad day in the last few years of my life. I hope there aren’t any in the future. In advertising, a typical bad day is when a particular idea gets bombed. And in my experience, more often than not, that makes us come up with a better idea.
One person in advertising you’d like to have dinner with?
David Ogilvy. He’s laid down some principles, which are considered like The Bible in advertising. But I’d want to ask him that why did he lay down those principles, because in my opinion, in advertising, there can’t be any rules/principles. For example, he once said that we must not put white copy on a black background. For many years, many people followed those principles. But it’s also true that a lot of ads which are beautiful and are easily read are done like that now.
One person outside advertising you’d like to have dinner with.
Amitabh Bachchan. I feel he’s been able to get through everything so nicely – a struggling artist to the No.1 Indian superstar, he’s handled his ups and downs and managed to reinvent himself everytime, even at this age! But even though I want to meet him, there’s a flipside to it. There are many reasons for which I don’t want to have dinner with him. For example, there is a particular image about him in my mind which I don’t want to be disturbed. What if he doesn’t turn out the way I’ve imagined him to be!
Which are your favourite films?
You know, I like all the films that I watch. I find this a little difficult to explain, because there could be really bad films, but I’m certain that they’d have some moments atleast, which would be really good. And when you remember any good film, you recollect certain good moments only, not the films in totality.
Which are your favourite campaigns?
Honda’s Power of Dreams is one campaign I really liked. There was one specific campaign about a diesel car which doesn’t make the noise that a diesel engine is supposed to. It’s called Honda Grrr. That’s my favourite commercial. And there are brands I like, such as Vodafone and The Economist.
Three things you’d want with you on a deserted island?
I’d rather be stuck with three people, than three objects. They’d be people from my family – my mom, dad and my wife.
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