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Piyush Pandey: Data is not God, taking it at face value results in boring advertising

Piyush Pandey

Piyush Pandey

Piyush Pandey, one of India’s most influential admen and Asia’s most awarded creatives, has said that an over-reliance on data results in “boring” advertising.

In an interview with Mumbrella in Mumbai yesterday, Pandey, the executive chairman and national creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather India and South Asia, was asked for his take on BBH co-founder John Hegarty’s view that Big Data is a “nonsense.”

He said there’s a “limit” to what data can do in advertising.

“If you take data and research at face value, then you will create something that is obvious,” he told Mumbrella in the interview.

“I would like to read between the lines to work out what someone would say in front of 20 other people. You get boring advertising when you follow data too literally,” he said. “But you still need to understand what the data is telling you.”

Creatives need to find a balance between data and gut feel, he said.

“I completely disagree with people who say data is God. Data and intuition have to go hand in hand; there’s a balance you need to strike,” the award-winning creative director said.

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Pandey played down the role of advertising in media in getting Narendra Moda, India’s new prime minister, elected. Pandey was one of the architects of Modi’s election campaign, which pushed out 200 commercials, 1,000 print ads and 100 radio scripts for the

To take credit for the election victory was “naive”, he said.

“Media and our work did justice to a great product,” he said. “I’m not convinced by the assertion that we created a wave; we rode the wave. Yes, we talked to the people of India in a language that they understand. But to take credit is to take credit from the man himself and his workers.”

“We were air cover. The battle is won on the ground. I’m not being modest. I’m just being realistic. Success has many fathers. It’s foolish to get bet on one,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, Pandye also expressed his views on scam – work created purely to win awards.

He said he was against scam in principle, but added that ideas often come to creative people without a brief, and it was up to them to ensure these ideas see the light of day.

“Ideas come to creative people without a brief,” he said. “If you’re so passionate about that idea, go and sell it to the client. And if you’re desperately passionate about that idea, go and find a new client.”

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