This week's Adland Rockstar is: Varun Mehta, creative director, Mudra.
1) Why did you get into advertising?
I started out as a marketing person with India Today. The only thing I liked about marketing was the bit where I could dabble with advertising. When our agency used to hand over some creative, I used to make them change whatever I could; not that I knew any better, of course. But I think I was good at being a horrible client.
Then, I went on to do my MBA at the Peter Drucker School of Management. One day, he (Peter Drucker) asked me, "What are you doing here, Varun? You belong on the other side." That's how Ogilvy happened. I began working there as some copy 'plankton', to be precise.
I think the fact that marketing involved a lot of paperwork and filing may also have influenced by decision to an extent. But I'm not sure.
2) What is the one thing you love about your job?
I love the fact that you're working on something new every three weeks. The entire environment around you is conducive to your hobbies and your interests. There's a lot of freedom here.
Also, you get to be the tip of the sword. When I was into marketing, I realised that you learn the most through case studies of successful brands like Wrigley, Avis or Volkswagen, for instance. When I read these case studies from the marketing perspective, they all seemed so brilliant! Then I read a couple of advertising books and realised that all these 'marketing strategies' were actually the creative agencies' genius. The marketing people just had to nod or shake their head.
I'd rather be the guy who's making the strategy, than the guy who accepts or rejects it; I'd rather be the tip of the sword.
3) What is the one thing you hate about your job?
In an average week, you have to hear the word 'no' at least fifty times. Campaigns that you've worked on for three weeks are discarded over a few sips of coffee. Rejection is a big part of this job.
Another thing I have a problem with, is the word 'clients'. I think it's time the industry realised that today, it's more of a partnership. The 'client' is good at what he does and we're good at what we do. So where does this word 'client' come in?
And now that we're on the subject, I'd also like to mention that this whole 'reviewing' that takes place is also a tad annoying. Before a big presention, a client-servicing person walks up to you and says he wants to 'review' the work.
It really feels like my father's asking me if I've brushed my teeth and believe me, I don't like the feeling!
4) What is one seemingly bizarre brief you'd want to execute some day?
I've really never thought about this before. Most of our briefs are quite bizarre to begin with, actually. But one thing I feel strongly about, is the whole idea of making an ad bizarre for bizarre's sake. I'm not against an ad being mad, but as long as it gets the message and logic right, first. Coming up with a crazy creative just because you were 'inspired' by page no. 55 of a wacky illustration book, is slightly ridiculous. Logic first, bizarre later, is how I see it!
5) What would you be doing if you weren't into advertising?
Definitely not marketing, that's for certain! I think I'd be an artist or most probably, a photographer.
6) One campaign you wish you'd worked on?
Without a second thought, it would have to be Apple's 'Think Different' campaign. It remains my favourite campaign, to this date.
7) If you were stuck on a deserted island, what objects would you want around you?
My camera, certainly, and batteries. Lots and lot of batteries.
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If you've missed any of our previous Adland Rockstars, you can check them out below: