Ad land’s Young Guns: Sushrita Mukherjee, Leo Burnett India

In a brand planning career spanning four years, Sushrita Mukherjee, Brand Strategy Director, Leo Burnett India, has worked across categories like F&B, E-Retail, Insurance, Beauty and Entertainment. 

She was part of the winning team to receive the LeoIntel Award from the Leo Burnett worldwide network in 2014 for innovative thinking in the Cultural Insight category and in 2015 for business acumen in the Luxury category. 

Mukherjee has also been awarded the India Star and World Star Awards by the World Packaging Organization for innovation in the fields of Packaging Design and Technology. 

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

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I started my career as a packaging designer. However, an initial stint with Unilever on laundry brands Rin and Surfmade me realise that I liked something more than packaging – it was the brands I worked on, their stories and their glories. I moved to an agency and started enjoying the process of thinking that went behind making those stories. I eventually landed up at Leo Burnett as a Strategic Planner. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
Strategists need hygiene skill sets - like identifying the human problem to solve the business problem, analysis of research to arrive at the motivations that get people to buy into a product or a category. 

Additionally, at Leo Burnett, we are trained to identify cultural shifts through trend mapping – this enables us to keep communication relevant to the time. There is a lot of emphasis to understand the behaviour around the human problem – the objective of our communication is aimed at changing behaviour.  

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign…
At Leo Burnett, I have got the opportunity to work across categories. I recently worked on multiple launch campaigns and I’m currently working on a brand revamp exercise. 

One of my recent memorable campaigns has been on Pillsbury (General Mills). The brand has shifted focus to snack foods for kids and has multiple innovative product launches lined up in the near future. We worked on a master brand idea and a product launch campaign that expresses the new voice of Pillsbury. I am particularly excited about a product launch campaign scheduled in December.  

Strategically, AXN was also a differentiated experience. The content of AXN was shifting from physical action to mental action and I worked closely with the Sony team to bring alive the new brand experience.  

In the recent past, I was a part of the team that worked on HDFC Life’s ‘Memories For Life’ campaign. In the category where the purchase decision is based on cost and convenience, we creatively built emotions into the purchase experience.  

While working on the creatives, how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
The thoughts actually vary as per task at hand. For instance, if the business objective is to solve a problem, then the thoughts are around ‘what is the human problem that we need to solve?’ This varies in case of launches, where the thoughts revolve around ‘are we giving a relevant reason for a consumer to buy or switch?’ 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Being a strategic planner, impactful advertising influences my work. The recent Leo Burnett work on Bajaj V resulted in 11,000 sales on Day 1. Our campaign ‘Aur Dikhao’ enabled Amazon, an international brand, to build local connect and familiarity. I also get inspired by communication that creates differentiation in parity products – like Tide and Rin or Wheel and Ghadi. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
Our industry is all about being relevant – Be it the financial landscape in our country or technology – we are really moving at the speed of light and it is important to stay updated.  

Prioritising – There are always many things to do, hence slotting them in the order of priorities really matter. 

Diving in – There’s no gain in doing anything half-baked. 

At the end of the day or the week when the mind is wired and full, just emptying it with a run. It’s the best brain cleanser. 

Ultimately, keep my focus on staying true to the business and being honest to the consumer. 

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Well, if you are a person who enjoys being connected to people, if you want to do new things everyday then advertising is certainly for you. There is no other industry that gives you the opportunity to work on diverse categories like feminine hygiene to automobile to e-retail to food and beverage. Plus, it teaches one so much about human behaviour which is a lifelong asset. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
I guess to succeed in any career you need to have the big picture in mind and work towards this picture every day. This picture can be for yourself, for the organisation or for the brand you work on. But the ideal case scenario is when all three merge to become one whole picture – that’s when you can give your all and really fly.  

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
If you are doing something, you rather do it for the right reasons.  

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I see myself having a lot of fun in five years – there is really no point doing something you are not enjoying. I see myself moving towards my big picture.  

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Any organisation I work with needs to resonate with my philosophy of making lives better. I need to see it in action.


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