Ad land’s Young Guns: Manu Bhadane, WATConsult

Manu Bhadane, AVP - Video Strategy, WATConsult, has been one of the leaders in the digital video production space. He has been successfully delivering award winning digital video campaigns since 2009. The video campaigns executed by him have won several international and national awards. Bhadane started as a professional cinematographer about seven years back and went on to head the entire video strategy team at WATConsult comprising 15 professionals. He has worked with all the major brands in the country. 

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

How did you get into the role you are serving?
Growing up, I wanted to be a scientist. So, after a Bachelors in Zoology, I decided to pursue a Masters in Anthropology. While doing fieldwork for ethnographic research in various remote areas, I would often take my camera along and click photographs as a hobby. When my friends and classmates saw these pictures, they told me that I should probably consider becoming a professional photographer. And the more I explored the medium, the more my interest developed. 

I wanted to hone my craft and enrolled in a Masters programme in Symbiosis. I started my career as a cinematographer, but soon realised that I could do other things as well, like direct and produce films. Two years ago, when I joined WATConsult, I was given the chance to build my own team and today, we offer complete digital video solutions to brands. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I feel that I am a combination of left brain and right brain, a dichotomy that is rare among video professionals. I am adept at creative as well as numbers. I am equally at ease working in the field or at a client meeting doing presentations. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
Every digital campaign comes with its challenges and each project has a unique solution as it might not have been attempted before. One project special to me is MTV Drive, where we shot a road trip across India live for 21 days, something that had never been done before. It became a blueprint for all digital shows that came after that. Another is the 360 video for the launch of the HDFC Bank Diners Club credit card. We executed the campaign when 360 video was a new format. 

While working on the creatives, how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
One of the main things that I keep in mind while working on a creative route is the main objective of the client. Once the objective is in place, it is important to do thorough research and get to know the different variables before mixing them to come up with the best solution. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
The digital medium is dynamic, hence it is important to keep a lookout for new trends and the people that are creating them. There are not many mentors in the field that are already established. I don’t really have an icon as everything I have learnt about digital film making comes from YouTube, it has been an open platform of knowledge sharing for me. The influencers on the platform have had a collective impact on the work that I have done. 

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

  1. Being on time to work
  2. Making a to-do list for the day
  3. Briefing the team on the day’s work
  4. Reviewing the work that is being done
  5. I use my everyday commute time to educate myself by watching new digital videos launched and reading up on new technology

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Advertising is a field driven by passion. I feel one should enter it only if they are really in love with it, just like a marriage, else it will end badly. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
In digital, there is a new learning every day, so one should be prepared for change. Having said that, the fundamentals need to be strong. It’s like mathematics, you can only discover new things once you have your basic formulas in place. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Do a lot of research on what exactly excites you about the industry. The field of advertising is constantly changing and there are highs and lows, so you have to keep working hard. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I see myself sitting in a virtual office wearing a wearing a VR headset and making video by just blinking my eyes. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
None, as I am happy being a part of WATConsult and look forward to continue working here in the years to come.


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