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‘I will have to prove myself all over again’ – Piyush Pandey on becoming global CCO at Ogilvy

Ogilvy has appointed Piyush Pandey, currently the executive chairman and chief creative officer for the agency’s South Asia operations as its global CCO. Pandey’s promotion comes shortly after the abrupt firing this July of Tham Khai Meng, the former global CCO at Ogilvy.

Pandey is one of India’s most celebrated and influential ad men. He has been instrumental in transforming Ogilvy from a stodgy agency in the 1980s to a creative powerhouse in India, over the last couple of decades.

The clients he has created some of India’s best loved campaigns for include Cadbury Dairy Milk, Asian Paints, Fevicol, and even the current national party in power, the BJP.

Mumbrella caught up with Pandey for an exclusive interview on his new role and what it entails.

Could you tell us a bit about how you came to be global chief creative officer?

“It was completely (Ogilvy worldwide CEO) John Seifert’s decision. He took care of a lot of things. He has known me for a long time. He knew, for instance, that I’m not going to step out of India to live anywhere abroad.

“So, when he spoke to me, he said ‘I want you to be my partner to help make the next chapter happen.’ And he had anticipated and taken care of any issues. I had no questions because he answered them before I asked them.

“Now, I have to live up to his expectations.”

Was doing the job from India non-negotiable?

“It was. I have always said that. It was something John knew. There is a huge plan he has for the next chapter. He thought I was worthy to do the job and has surrounded me with some wonderful people.”

What are your thoughts on the job?

“It is a job to be done, a responsibility and not a medal. I will have to prove myself all over again.

“We will get on with it. We have gender balance to handle, which we both believe in. So onwards and upwards!”

What sort of an additional responsibility does this place on you?

“Right now, we have a pending meeting. The responsibility is to partner John in the goals he has specified for the company.

“To do greater service to our clients, to our people and their ambitions.  I agree with everything he says and think there is an opportunity.”

In a world where technology is informing the insights that drive advertising, what are you going to do as a leader to orient your teams?

“Make sure that we are never behind technology and one step ahead of it. And we will have the right people who will help us do that. We will respect them, learn from them and move ahead.”

People in advertising agencies are used to thinking creatively in mediums like film. But marketing today demands a lot of creative thought on everything from shopper marketing to the various sub-genres and micro-niches of digital. How are you going to get people to start thinking that way?

“It is an assumption that people who do technology are not creative. If they were not, they wouldn’t use it the way they do. Mediums change over time, but ideas are always required. So, every new technology that comes in is a new opportunity for you to express your ideas.

“Technology and creativity have to work hand in hand. Both of them cannot do anything without the other.”

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