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Ad land’s Young Guns: Aniket Sawant, Mindshare India

Aniket A Sawant, Manager - Strategy, Mindshare India, has been with the agency for over 2 years. Born in Mumbai and raised in Dubai, Sawant considers himself lucky to be a part of a historical marketing journey of Brand Dubai – from being known as a hide-out for criminals to a preferred tourist destination. 

Being an introvert in an extroverted industry, Sawant has had the chance to explore and expand his personality, thanks to the dynamic media industry, the culture at Mindshare and the “awesome people” that he is surrounded with. 

An avid supporter of Chelsea since 2002, a self-proclaimed Expert Generalist, and a Cord Cutter Evangelist, Sawant is probably the only guy in India who used and paid for WhatsApp back when people were hooked on to BBM. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Aniket Sawant in his own words...

How did you get into the role you are serving?
It’s funny how we make decisions (or not make them) that can create different paths and journeys for all of us. I had made one such decision a few years ago, when usual norms made me apply for a Business College at Symbiosis, but I changed my decision in the last minute to apply for its Media Vertical because of my love for Entertainment. 

While I was studying at Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, GroupM came to our campus for internship offers and at that point in time I thought it would be good to intern at a media start-up than a media giant. My college peers convinced me to re-think (so glad for that!) and so I managed to get an opportunity to intern at GroupM for a couple of months, post which I got offered my first job. 

Few months later, I joined GroupM as a Leadership Trainee at Mindshare to work for the Strategy Team in Mumbai. I have been elevated to a Managerial position now and am loving every moment of it.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
In this industry, most freshers lack media expertise ground up, so my Masters Course at SIMC really helped me pick up and contribute from the get go more effectively towards client work. 

I’d like to think I have an erratic, creative mind, which I usually use to provoke my colleagues to think beyond the usual. There is so much inspiration around us every day and as marketers, we want to achieve so much for our clients, but unfortunately the media atmosphere in India hasn’t reached that level yet.

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
Work at Mindshare goes beyond regular media campaigns, where we try to deliver long term business value for our clients. One such project which I am working on is for a lubricants client for their Turkey market, where we are trying to build advocates using an online community platform. It involves great amount of pro-activeness, agility and overcoming communication barriers, which has been a great learning for me and Mindshare as well. 

Currently, I am also working on a campaign for a social media client, where the client sits out of US. The great part about this campaign is the kind of discipline and organisation required to match different work ethics and mindsets, which has resulted in bilateral learnings of advertising, culture and ethics. I feel this is only possible with great clients on the other end who consider agencies as equal partners in delivering success.

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
Since I work on the strategic requirements for clients, it becomes critical to keep navigating through various points of view, be it consumer, client or agency. It is crucial to keep having conversations with the team, observing how consumers function and mix it with data sources to come up with a good balance of intuition, logic and data informed decisions.

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
I don’t have icons as such, but I do wait every year for the Cannes Lions. Every work at Cannes never ceases to amaze me. Especially Burger King and how they have mastered the art of hacking.

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  • Listen to the radio on my way to work
  • Make a to-do list
  • Observe and form random hypothesis
  • Not re-activating my Facebook account
  • Share and learn at least one piece of interesting information to/ from my colleagues

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
I feel the lines are getting blurred between various functions and a career in advertising will soon have to be complimented with skill sets in business intelligence. As an advertiser, one will have to bring more than just creativity on the table to add value for the client.

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
This is an easy answer. At Mindshare, GroupM or any other event I have been to, I have observed leaders and veterans in this industry and I feel you need to be first, super passionate about advertising and delivering value to clients – day in and day out. 

Second, is to have a good sense of humour and to keep things fun and light with your colleagues. Passion and humour for me are like Mumbai and potholes – always go hand-in-hand. (Sorry for the joke!)

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Advertising is a great industry for those who want to experience a new job every day. Be ready to sharpen your ears, be provocative at the right times and stand your ground when work attacks your ethics or work-life balance.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Hopefully vacationing in South of France with my wife after collecting a Grand Prix at the Lions.

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I have been extremely lucky to call Mindshare as my first workplace. Mindshare continues to have an amazing learning curve with the kind of work, energy and opportunities it provides. But, if not here, then I would want to work for any organisation with innovation as part of their backbone.

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