I’ve never seen ads as ads, but as short stories: Prasoon Joshi

McCann Worldgroup India put up yet another strong show at the Effie Awards 2018. Not only did the agency take home 5 Gold, 16 Silvers and12 Bronze awards, McCann also walked away with the Effie India Agency of the Year award. 

Leading the team at the awards show was Prasoon Joshi, CEO and CCO, McCann Worldgroup India and Chairman McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific. Adgully caught up with Joshi at the awards evening on January 5, 2018, where he spoke about McCann’s good show at every awards platform, befriending technology and bracing for change, among others. Excerpts: 

On winning awards, ideas and having a great team...
We won every possible international creative award in 2017. We won everywhere. After that if the year comes a complete circle, this shows the effectiveness of our work. What more can you want for your agency? What makes me happy is that the work we did also impacted our clients’ business hugely and contributed to building brands. 

You can have huge mottos, credos, etc., but the core motive is that if you are not benefitting your clients and their brands, then these awards sound hollow and empty. In my opinion, McCann has been consistently doing that. Whether it was a few years back when we were here for relaunching Maggi, Coca-Cola, and our work for Nestle. Today I can proudly say that all the work has come from across categories and geographic locations for us. We also have a great global team – CEO Harris Diamond, Creative Head Rob Reilly and Strategy Head, Suzzane Powers, who has built the culture of great strategic thinking at the agency. 

McCann India has truly reflected with what McCann Global is trying to do. That syncing and alignment with the global management is benefiting. Also, we are hugely rooted and we know how to ply to our local market because all our people are handpicked. Our India Strategy Head, Jitendra Dabas, is hugely responsible for what we saw at the awards. What he has been successfully able to do is break the silos between creative and strategic planning; he has been able to get them to work together. NCD Prateek Bhardwaj and Creative Director Kapil Batra, who is responsible for the work done for Paytm. All these people have been able to work together without a planning team. Partha Sinha has been a great help, too. He is one of the finest strategic minds in the advertising industry. We have great business minds like Alok Lal, who heads our North Operations, and Suraja Kishor, GM of our Mumbai operations. 

If you have a keen eye for business, you can contribute to the business. I was a creative guy and was made CEO of the business. Harshit Jain, Head of Healthcare comes up with great business ideas, too. Ideas can come from anywhere. McCann today understands that the solution is not to work in silos, but work together. Thinking can come from anywhere as long as you are aligned in thought. Last but not the least, we take huge pride in our relationship with our clients. We are together in this journey. It is not like we get a one-page brief one day and we start to think on it. We think for the brand together and this is manifested in the results. A lot of the ideas do not come with the briefs, but with our relationship with the brands. 

On technology, creativity and Paytm campaign...
The work on Paytm reflects how technology affects the creative aspect of ad making – you either get overwhelmed by it or you accept it and become a part of it. ‘Paytm karo!’ is a reflection of the fact that we did not get overwhelmed by the technology. We wanted to understand it and this is manifested in the campaign where we have showed how people will understand the technology and how it will impact their lives. So, a simple thing like a bua (aunt) giving shagun (gift) to her bhateeja (nephew) is a glimpse of the fact we are not overwhelmed by the technology, but have understood it well. McCann has always been quick in understanding data and we have always used that for our clients’ benefit. So, technology is not something we are intimidated by, we befriend technology. 

On ad content and rewarding viewers...
Content has changed hugely over the years. But when has it not? I’ve never seen ads as ads, but as short stories. I only think of it as something that reaches out to people and has something to say, doesn’t matter if it is for a brand or for a short story. As long as you understand that you have to reward the viewer for what he/she watches, you will never mistake an ad for an ad and if you do, you will only get caught in the formulas. So, be rewarding for the audience. This has always worked for McCann. This year, I would say that there are more people who have manifested that, more brands who have understood that. We have always been performing well at the awards, be it Cannes or Effies and other accolades for the country. 

On befriending change in 2018...
Two kinds of brands will be seen – the ones that will befriend change and contribute positively towards it, and the ones that will get intimidated by change. The former will be the brands that will do well as we are in times of change and empowerment. The change is reaching deeper into our society, where the purchasing power is getting deeper, be it through Aadhaar or Jan DhanYojna. The point is that common man is getting more money and so, more people are empowered to spend more. 

During such times, will you be a brand that looks confused or a brand that consumers look at and say I can rely on this brand? The companies that are unsettled by the change are not going to do well, while the ones that have the clarity and are confident with the change will be the ones that consumers will rely on.

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