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Ad land’s Young Guns: Smriti Shadra, The Social Street

Smriti Shadra started her advertising career with Grey Worldwide and then went on to work with some of the biggest names like JWT, Leo Burnett and Dentsu India Group, before moving to The Social Street, Mumbai in 2016. Over the nine years that she has spent in the industry, Shadra, now Associate Creative Director at The Social Street, has been an integral part of creating path-breaking campaigns for some of the most iconic brands like Airtel, Maruti Suzuki, Max Healthcare and Britannia. 

She has won about 190 national and international awards across Print, Activation, Media and Out-of-Home. She also had the opportunity to be a jury at The Abbys and The Emvies. 

In 2017, Shadra was chosen as one of the Adobe Young Lanterns, acknowledged and judged by the finest jury in the country. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Smriti Shadra in her own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I was a Graduate in Economics from the University of Delhi and a fresh pass out of an MBA Finance programme, when I decided to join a field that was totally unrelated to anything that I had studied about – Advertising. Anyone who heard of my plans at that point obviously thought that I was being too frivolous. But then I joined the Crafting Creative Communications programme at MICA. And following that, worked with some of the biggest networks, including Grey Worldwide, J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett and Dentsu Aegis Network at their Delhi offices. In 2016, I moved to Mumbai to join The Social Street. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I’ve spent a considerable part of my career working with some of the biggest mainline agencies, which helped me get a thorough understanding of advertising on mediums like television, print and radio. And then, I consciously made the shift to explore a completely different world, that of activations, on-ground, digital and out-of-home. I believe these two experiences have today given me the ability to adopt an integrated approach to advertising and come up with solutions which can be expanded across various mediums. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Like most ’90s kids, I grew up admiring the iconic ads created by Piyush Pandey sir. From the quirky Fevicol ideas to the heart-warming Cadbury commercials, I have always been in awe of the simplicity that he put to work, every single time. Even today, I find myself going back to his work for inspiration whenever I’m stuck. And I must say that the therapy works pretty well. 

I am also fortunate to have worked with a lot many people who have mentored me in the true sense. They are the ones who have shaped the way I think and approach my work. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
Crack an idea and spend time with it. Doing so, gives me a better perspective, whether the idea is actually effective or not. 

Find simple solutions that are lying all around us. All that we need to do is step out of office, take our minds of work and observe. 

Read a lot of blogs. I believe they are a great way of getting to know new people, no matter which part of the world they belong to. 

Look at briefs from the lens of solving a human problem rather than a brand problem. Because at the end of the day, the core of every brand is related to us humans. 

Travel often. Not something I do every day, but definitely once in every few days. It gives me a chance to understand a new set of people, with a new approach to life, always inspiring me in some way or the other. 

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Definitely, as long as one is not okay with doing the same thing over the years and is open and willing to evolve with the times. As creative people, our work is to make products and services alluring for consumers. But if we ourselves are bored, there is no way we can keep the consumers interested. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
A hell of a lot of passion, hunger and a self-driven approach to keep learning, unlearning, breaking rules and creating some of your own. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Come with an open mind, a big heart and lots of guts. Most importantly, have your resources to keep yourself motivated. Because, at the end of the day, it’ll always be upon you to ensure that there isn’t any room for monotony to settle in. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Well, the plan is to acquire new skills, gain fresh perspectives and have unique experiences under my belt, especially in terms of getting a stronger grasp of mediums like digital. I’d also love to continue being a part of this growing community of people from across the globe, who have been involved in creating path-breaking work in the ‘social advertising’ arena. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I’ve always been the one to choose people over agencies or brands. So, I’d love to join any place that gives me the opportunity to learn and get inspired from some great minds and in the process, create interesting work too.

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