Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather India, left some of the Young Lions (that also consisted a fair number of the older Indian adland) teary-eyed after his Masterclass which was titled 'Why rewind to refresh'. He was speaking on day six of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015.
Through six pieces of work, Pandey looked to 'refresh' the knowledge of the Young Lions through a rewind of the work from his career.
He began by speaking about 21 June, the first ever International Day of Yoga, certified by the United Nations, and asked the audience to do a breathing exercise (Pranayama) since he was speaking in the same week of the event.
"(You can see that) I'm not a yoga practitioner. But, if I relate my advertising career to this exercise, there's a connection. When I breathe in slowly, I'm taking in all the events that are happening around me. Then when I've held my breath, the oxygen is going to my brain, which is helping me memorise things around me. Then, when I breathe out, it's a combination of old and new ideas coming out," said Pandey.
The Indian creative leader also touched upon how he got into advertising, after a stint as a professional cricketer. He said, "I'm unusual in advertising. I was a professional cricketer. Cricket is one unifying religion in India. People discuss, fight about cricket. The good thing for me was that cricket didn't have so much in it during those days. We used to travel in third class unreserved train compartments to various different parts of the nation. That's where I got to the roots of the country. I'm a believer that how much ever information is available on the internet, we have to travel and get out to come up with ideas. My mother always told me, 'If you can't influence your neighbour, you can't influence anyone'. Cricket made me learn the country which consists of 1.2 billion people. I saw thousands of food (types), and people changing every 100 kilometres. You cannot advertise in India without stepping out."
He followed this up with the work, explaining each in context.
When you travel the country, you see such a picture all the time. This scene was from the State I was born in (Rajasthan). My father was working with the government and he travelled into the interiors a lot. I used to travel with him. Then, one day someone in my agency came up to me talking about this idea and asking if we could place a Fevicol board behind the bus. Ideas are all around."
"When you guys go to Indian restaurants, for Indian food, you guys are conned. Most of the Indian restaurants only serve North Indian food. But, India has a lot of diverse food.
"I'm very biased when it comes to food. I always want to eat Indian food. And Indians believe that there's no cook better than their mother. Mothers feel bad when their children aren't getting home cooked food."
"I've stolen all my ideas from life. This year Cannes launched the Glass Lions. For India there should be a Super Glass Lion, because the gender bias (in some parts of the country, especially in villages) is amazing. They didn't even let us shoot this ad. This is real stuff just 100 kilometres from where I live (Mumbai). You'll only get to know how real this is when you step into villages."
After the first three ads, he promised that all the ads won't be so emotional, with a quirky piece of work for another Pidilite brand.
"I come from a large family. I was the eighth child in my family. There was one more after me. So, with our parents we were a cricket team (of 11 people). Large families have a million ideas in them. Again, this idea is stolen from life."
"I have a young friend called Ryan (Mendonca). Everyone thinks he's a Goan who speaks only English. But, he observes life. In India, transgenders are made to be holy. They make their money exchanging blessings at traffic lights signals. So, we used them to educate motorists to wear seat belts. This is the kind of stuff that works in India.
"India and Pakistan separated in 1947. Now, the same people who were in one country are now on different sides of the border. My mom said 'Know your neighbour'. Pakistan has people a lot of the people here knew earlier," he surmised, wrapping up the last Masterclass of the fest.