The world survives on creativity: Piyush Pandey at Ad Asia 2021

The two-day advertising conference concluded in Macao on Saturday

Mumbai: The pandemic took a heavy toll on people, and constrained activities across industries. So much so that it made the advertising industry apprehensive of its deleterious effects on the creativity of its workforce. But according to Ogilvy chairman of global creative Piyush Pandey, ‘creativity is still alive and kicking’ and fuelling the industry in the post-pandemic world.

Sharing his views on the ‘Advertising innovation under Covid-19 pandemic’, Pandey said that he is frequently asked whether the pandemic has killed the creativity of the advertising industry.

“The world survives on creativity,” responded the industry veteran while allaying any such concerns. “In fact, the pandemic has taught us that lives can be saved through creativity. Right from scientists who brought vaccines at unprecedented speeds to governments who found new solutions to administer those vaccines to millions, and to common people who remained confined in their homes, every one of us had to get creative with their lives to survive and thrive,” he said emphatically.

Pandey also lauded the work done by several advertising agencies during the lockdown, and cited three examples of great creativity that stood out for him.

The first, a made-at-home short film ‘Family’ launched in April 2020 which carried the message of ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ while also raising funds for the daily wage workers and technicians of film industries across the country hit by the pandemic. The film featuring several top actors was virtually directed by Prasoon Pandey, without any of the actors stepping out of their homes. Sponsored by Sony Pictures & Kalyan Jewellers, the film helped in collecting $3 million a because of a little creativity in the most terrible of times.

The second film Pandey named was Savlon India’s campaign promoting handwashing, released in October 2020. The campaign "Hand Hygiene for all" executed in partnership with Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) highlighted the message of handwashing effectively. The story was told through a day in the life of Swapna, a talented foot artist, who by her own example shows how handwashing is the easiest way to prevent Covid and other infections and why we should all be doing it. “Think of solutions executed with both your hands tied behind your back,” said Pandey.

He also made a special mention of the Cadburys’ Dairy milk Diwali campaign, ‘Not just a Cadbury ad’ where the confectionary major batted for the small shop owners by getting ‘India’s biggest brand ambassador’, Shah Rukh Khan to be the brand ambassador for each of the local stores. Retailers and small local stores were shut due to pandemic, as people ordered even essential, everyday items online. So the brand used machine learning & AI to help retailers create their own ads, which were promoted by Khan as per the pin code of the viewer.

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