The Player: Ogilvy's Pandey puts Asia in international ad spotlight

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[Mumbai, India] Piyush Pandey did not grow up in Jaipur, India, dreaming of becoming a leader in the Indian advertising community. He started out as a professional cricket player and later became a tea taster for a Calcutta-based tea company.

Now group president and national creative director for Ogilvy & Mather India, his creative track record has led the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival to choose Mr. Pandey as president of the 2004 film and press and outdoor juries, a springboard to wide international recognition. Mr. Pandey will be the first Asian jury president at Cannes.

"He's a good bridge between Asia and the Western world," said festival Chairman Roger Hatchuel. "It's what I've been looking for. You can't ignore the growing importance of Asia."

Mr. Hatchuel said that when Mr. Pandey served as a jury member in 2002, jury President Jeff Goodby "rated him as a potential jury president."

And at this year's festival, Mr. Pandey's Ogilvy team raked in five Lions-two golds, two silvers and a bronze.

Besides raising Mr. Pandey's profile abroad, the honor of presiding over two Cannes juries next year also highlights India as a creative hub and a developing market on the rise.

"India is capable of doing a lot of good work," Mr. Pandey said. The Cannes appointment "is significant for India, and Asia; it's recognition of all the work that Asia has done for so many years, it shows we are getting there."

Multinational companies such as Coca-Cola Co. were once shunned by India's fiercely nationalistic government, but now thrive there. Yet it remains a difficult country for marketers. India is a land of unparalleled diversity, spanning rural villages and sophisticated urban centers. Advertising for Ogilvy clients such as Cadbury's and Unilever is delivered in 21 languages and a multitude of cultural nuances.

Mr. Pandey's creative reputation was forged by work such as a long-running campaign for local adhesive brand Fevicol that taps into the country's flamboyant sense of humor. In one famous spot, a huge mound of people cling impossibly to a moving truck. They are, of course, glued to the truck with Fevicol.

keeping it fresh

That campaign established Mr. Pandey "as a man with a huge understanding of the value of a brand, of the vernacular nuances of his audience, and of the myriad ways in which a brand can be built and kept fresh," said Neil French, WPP Group's Singapore-based global creative adviser.

His campaigns have earned O&M India attention overseas. The agency's work with Perfetti water in India, for instance, won the Mumbai office the creative assignment for Europe in 2003.

Mr. Pandey started his career at O&M as an account executive in 1982. He became a copywriter in 1989 and creative director of O&M, Mumbai, in 1992.

Despite his prominence within the Ogilvy network, Mr. Pandey does not aspire to an international position. "He's a legend in India, and becoming a legend worldwide," Mr. French said. "[But] a country of a billion souls is probably enough to keep him well-occupied for a while."

Fast Facts

Name: Piyush Pandey

Age: 48

Now: Group president and national creative director, India, Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai

Challenge: Raising the creative profile of Asia on international advertising stage

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