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Alyque and the Zeigarnik Effect: Josy Paul

Josy Paul, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, BBDO India, remembers Alyque Padamsee and his unique approach to creative ideation. 

It was about intrigue. Always about intrigue. There had to be a ‘burr’. An edge that made you look at things again. Alyque referred to it as the Zeigarnik Effect. The oddity that made something sticky. You couldn’t get it out of your head. Be it an image or a combination of words, or anything. La Lalala laa lalala laa la la laa! Zeigarnik!! That was Alyque. Unputdownable. Unforgettable. Always Zeigarnik! 

Working in Lintas in the early nineties was like being part of a counter culture. You were given the freedom to question, provoke and challenge everything. Alyque introduced Prayer Meetings at Lintas, where the faithful gathered to debate and discuss work, customs and the state of the world. Creativity was religion. And God was a Padamsee. 

There was the White Room. In the white room everything was White. The walls, the carpet, the furnishing and the low hanging lamp shades. There were no furniture. You sat on low white mattresses. You could go in there with your team and your client’s brief and brainstorm in the Zen-like atmosphere. But unlike other meeting rooms, in the White Room, you could not say ‘no’. All ideas were welcome. No idea was wrong. If for some reason one of the team members said ‘no’ to an idea, he or she had to give 3 reasons why it is a great idea. In the White Room, you couldn’t kill an idea. Which is why it was white. That’s Zeigarnik! That’s Alyque. That’s also why I still remember the White Room 25 years later. 

I remember everything about Alyque. How he lit up when an idea really intrigued him. Like when he saw the ‘Zeigarnik’ in our work for Crystal Underwear. Alyque was so thrilled with the campaign and its impact in the market that he called my art partner (Neville D’Souza) and me into his room and asked us to break open a giant crate. Guess what, the massive case was packed with all kinds of underwear. It was a gift from the people at Crystal, and Alyque wanted us to have the first choice!!! Ziegarnik!

We were there with Alyque when he walked into a broken building in the mill area of Lower Parel in the nineties and announced his plans to change Lower Parel to Upper Worli. We were there when Alyque wrote history and made advertising famous. He is our Renaissance man, the ‘Zeigarnik’ man. Our God, and Godfather.

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