What's your Oxygen? What's the one principle that has got you to where you are? Those were the questions we asked adlanders as we approached our eighth anniversary. And here's what they had to say.
The power of my profession…’
Executive creative director
Ogilvy & Mather India
My two-decade long journey has brought home to me repeatedly and with increasing clarity, the immense power of my profession. Advertising wields influence out of all proportion to its size as an industry.
It forms and shapes opinions, beliefs and behaviour like no other profession. Which is why every brief still gives me a thrill. I see it as an opportunity to change the world in some small way. Sitting in a darkened room in front of my laptop I can come up with stuff that makes people change what they think about something or change their behaviour in some way. How cool is that! Like Spiderman, I believe that with great power comes great responsibility.
My Oxygen? A genuine love for what I do for a living.
‘Optimism and passion’
Optimism is my oxygen! I see the positive side of everything, and this has consistently helped me turn the most trying situations in my favour. The one belief I always abide by is perseverance – the ‘never say die’ spirit. I work with a lot of passion. At Olx too we’ve hired people who have fire in their belly, and bring tremendous gusto to their work everyday. I believe in thinking big and dreaming even bigger. I want my work to bring about a change in India, to make a tangible difference to the lives of people, and leave behind a memorable legacy.
‘Keep your head down and work’
Anil S Nair
CEO and managing partner
L&K Saatchi & Saatchi
“Keep your head down and work.”
This was the advice my boss gave me at the beginning of my career. I quite didn’t understand why, but I was too polite to ask. I followed his instructions and got down to the task at hand diligently. Much like a swimmer I put my head up only to take in oxygen for my survival but kept my head under at other times. I started noticing that I was covering greater distances faster than I anticipated. Slowly I realised the wisdom behind the advice and now it has become second nature for me. Devoting oneself to the task without worrying about other distractions have yielded great dividends through my career. I owe my career growth to those words that came at the right time in my life.
‘Comfort is stagnation’
Director and CMO,
digital and direct sales
Max Life Insurance
My oxygen is – passion. I think if you don't feel passionately there's no momentum or galvinising action. To feel for something where you're auto-propelled into action. I've felt passionate about what I've done. There's a purpose and a passion – which auto-galvanises me.
The one principle is – you have to unsettle yourself each time you reach a milestone. The moment you feel settled, you feel you've reached the pinnacle of your capability. New energy comes when you unsettle. Don't let you feel comfortable or settled. This makes you stagnated. Comfort is stagnation. The minute I go through change, there's a certain momentum that comes after the first stage.
'The Blank Page'
integrated strategy planning
The Blank Page. Starting on anything with nothing is perhaps the one thing that has helped me the most!
The blank page has no room for pre-conceived notions, excess baggage of experience, or the temptation to flaunt pet theories. It allows me to be consumer at heart and professional by mind no matter which category, brand, product stage or market. Meaning, I am able to stay objective, open and ready for the task at hand.
More importantly it has allowed me to stay interested, stay excited, stay alive and stay foolish! Like I was on day one. Just like I was last Monday morning!
The Blank Page. That’s my oxygen.
‘Curiosity to see what is possible’
Group creative director
Cheil Worldwide SW Asia
My oxygen is my curiosity. Curiosity to see what is possible. The way people behave. How a brand can change that. To me curiosity has no limits, rules, or precedents. It’s the source of all kinds of ideas. Curiosity pushes you to discover the new –the new way to tell stories, new ways to say the same old thing, new styles, new trends. And that new is what makes advertising so exciting and unpredictable.
‘It has to be better than the remote’
My oxygen is essentially problem solving. I personally find working on marketing challenges the most satisfying. Finding the most relevant insight is about 90 per cent of what I like spending most time on. It's possible that I probably have an engineer's approach to advertising. Solving a problem is what gives me my eureka moment and my oxygen.
The one principle that I always remember is that you're never fighting the category alone. When the ad goes up, it is out there against everything including entertainment and even the remote control. Make the ad worth your audience's time. Nobody is interested that it is better than most of the category ads. It has to be better than the remote. Make it relevant, make it interesting, useful, funny, sad, endearing, beautiful. Creativity is nothing, interesting is everything.
‘Anything that is ‘in’ is already on its way out’
Vice president and
head of strategy
Anything that is ‘in’ is already on its way out. I never blindly believe in anything – be it a standard operating procedure or a policy. I question the norms, challenge the status quo and reject mediocrity. There’s always room for better and today’s digital world demands that of us.
Today’s consumer is fickle. We need to pre-empt his needs, not react to them. We’ve to learn to unlearn everything we know and re-learn the rules of the day. You’ll learn from your mistakes if you go wrong. As the saying goes, ‘You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.’
(This article first appeared as part of a feature in the issue of Campaign India dated 4 September 2015)