This week's Adland Rockstar is Sneh Nihalani, creative partner, Rediffusion Y&R.
How did you get into advertising?
I did my B Sc. from Udaipur and was very adamant on coming to Bombay. However I was very confused on what I’d do once I went there. So I came to the city and after getting a chance to meet Prasoon Joshi, I asked him to try me for at least six months. He agreed and took me on. I spent over three years in McCann Erickson, growing from trainee copywriter to creative group head. I then moved to Publicis Ambience for a year and a half, and from there, I came to Rediffusion Y&R.
Describe your first few weeks in advertising?
Since I’m from a small town, I was scandalized the first time I heard words like F*** being used so liberally in office! I’d become pretty certain I wouldn’t be able to adjust and stick around for more than a week. I also remember how I used to note down all possible bus numbers so that I’d have a list of different buses and their destinations in Mumbai. For the first two months, I was simply scanning the papers and observing people around me. I was already into writing and I’d done theatre in college and my talent was in good hands thanks to my boss Tejol Kolwalkar and Prasoon’s guidance.
A funny thing that happened in McCann was that, when I joined, I was sitting next to a very good friend of mine, Ketan. When I got promoted, I was sitting next to a guy called Chetan. So my promotion was called ‘From Ketan to Chetan’ (laughs). But I learnt a lot in that period and especially enjoyed working on radio ads, under Prasoon’s guidance.
What is one thing you like about your job?
Advertising is fun and the whole excitement is about writing a story in 30 seconds. Parallel to my work, I’m also writing a feature length script, which I’m going to give to dad, who is a director in the film industry here. But what has happened is that due to working in advertising, even when I’m writing dialogues for a long-format feature, I end up cutting the dialogue short to 30 seconds! (laughs) But advertising is a package of madness, creativity, persuasion and finally when people remember your brand, it feels good.
What is one thing that you don’t like about your job?
I think, in advertising, we tend to think that consumers are not intelligent enough and we think that we have to tell them everything and state every point. This is something that bothers me. Because even I’m a consumer and I do understand things and don’t like being told everything. I wonder when this perception will change.
One person in advertising you’d like to have dinner with?
I wouldn’t mind hosting a dinner party where all the biggies in the industry would be invited. But to answer your question, I’d love to chat with Piyush Pandey over dinner.
One person outside advertising you’d like to have dinner with?
Abhishek Bachchan. I love his moustache! And I’ve convinced my husband to have the same kind of moustache! (laughs) I love the Yuva look of Abhishek Bachchan.
Your favourite film-makers and films.
Govind Nihalani, Hrishikesh Mukherji, Wong Kar Wai. In films I like Masoom, Yuva and amongst the recent ones, I liked 3 Idiots.
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
I’m into photography – the camera is my second love. I also cook. Some music and writing helps.
Three things you want with you on a deserted island.
Pen and paper, a camera, a person who'll see the pictures I've clicked and also listen to my scripts.