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Winning a Grand Prix is like winning a cricket match: Piyush Pandey

Ogilvy’s Global Creative Chairman gets talking about winning Cannes Lions Grand Prix, his successor Liz Taylor and his faith in CCOs back home.

It is midweek and Ogilvy has already scooped up six coveted Grand Prix awards globally for campaigns like Dove- Courage is BeautifulTelenor- Naming the Invisible by Digital Birth Registration etc at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, 2021. Meanwhile, the agency in India has brought home a Silver and Bronze Lion.

In an exclusive conversation, Piyush Pandey, who was recently elevated to the newly created role of Global Creative Chairman, Ogilvy tells Neeta Nair why winning a Cannes Lions Grand Prix is akin to winning a cricket match; about his successor– Liz Taylor and why he feels Ogilvy India with Harshad, Kainaz and Sukesh at the wheel, is in good hands.

Is Ogilvy’s performance at Cannes Lions on a global level and in India living up to your expectations?

I think I’m very happy with the way things are midweek and how the concept of borderless creativity, which we believe in, is displaying its force from across all geographies. So, it’s not just a good feeling, it’s a tremendous feeling I would say.

A Grand Prix or a Gold Lion has remained elusive so far for Ogilvy India. Is there a campaign you are still hopeful about?

I don’t ever predict about campaigns; I just keep my fingers crossed. I have been a part of many juries and I know that the thought process differs greatly from one to the other. That is the name of the game. So you just wait and hope for the best, and move on.

But having said that, there are many campaigns that are close to my heart. Obviously, the world knows about ‘Not just a Cadbury ad’ and then there is Savlon – The Artist, unfortunately, for which, till now, we have not seen recognition. So, it all depends on what your competition is all about and what the jury’s thoughts are. But yes, I am very proud of that work.

A new role was recently created for you at Ogilvy global i.e. Chairman, Global Creative. How will this be different from your earlier Global CCO role?

We’ve got a new CCO in Liz Taylor. And that’s keeping up with a very robust plan for the company, which will require a lot more focus. For a person like me who wears two hats –India and global– it was going to be very testing and trying. But now we have got a wonderful person for the job and her task is focused.

She is a full-time CCO. And that will give us a lot of energy. Liz comes with a lot of accolades and achievements and she has also worked with Ogilvy earlier. So it’s a brilliant choice that we have made. And in my role as Chairman of global creativity, I’m the guide, player and mentor providing words of experience, all put into one.

Ogilvy is clearly one of the cream agencies in India but it not believed to be performing as well in the US, which is incidentally one of your main markets. Was that why a CCO from the US was roped in for the job?

Not necessarily. She’s not just a person from the U.S but a global person. And it just so happens that she is based in the US, which is a fantastic help. But don’t limit her capability or appointment to her U.S. experience only. She’s a global figure.

Incidentally, Ogilvy has won six Grand Prix till day 3, none of which have come from the U.S. market.

All players in a cricket team don’t get a double hundred in the same match. If all guns were firing, every team would be scoring 2000 runs in each innings. So, the benefit of a strong team is that somebody or the other will make runs. Even if you look at all cricket records, it’s not that Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar, all scored a double hundred in a match. So, it will be somebody this year, it might be Ogilvy U.S. next year.

A couple of days are left, let’s see what happens. But the only way to look at it is whether we are performing strongly as a team. As a worldwide creative council, we work with a lot of interaction. So Ogilvy U.S. may not have won but Ogilvy U.S. is helping other people win. It is very much like a cricket match involving teamwork.

Talking about teamwork, you have a wonderful team in India and three very able CCOs in Sukesh, Harshad and Kainaz. Who do you see yourself in?

Harshad, Kainaz and Sukesh are running the show together, and they are three people who have earned this position at the back of their performance. If you were to ask a parent, “Which child is more important to you?” I don’t think any parent would be able to give you an answer.

They’re all creative people and I’m very proud of all of them. They have taken and will continue to take Ogilvy to newer heights. Even behind them, there is a solid team of clients, planners etc and when they win, they win as a team…Ogilvy wins.

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