New Delhi: Ad man Piyush Pandey, the executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy & Mather, seems to be on a winning spree, quite literally. His team which worked on the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election campaign in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand struck gold after the party’s mammoth victory in both states. His track record of working with the BJP remains 100% since the party’s historic win in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
At present, the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 10 is keeping him busy. If the IPL turns out to be a big draw and Mumbai Indians end up with the cup, Pandey’s good luck may have something to do with it. Pandey has worked on the creative accounts for both IPL and Mumbai Indians since their inception.
In an interview with Mint, Pandey talks about his equation with the BJP, party national president Amit Shah’s role in BJP’s election campaign and his future projects. Edited excerpts:
What’s your working equation like with the BJP?
We work with the government on project basis, as and when they want us, we are there. It’s not an account we work on for 12 months a year. It started from the time of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Since then we have worked with them on most things. Besides the Lok Sabha elections, we have worked together for the state elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
How do you view the last state election win?
I think the victory is a huge win for Mr (Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah. I always believe that we have a role to play and we have done our role to great satisfaction on our part. Elections are won on the ground, advertising is the air covered and how good is the air covered is what we have to ensure. How to create a mood? We worked very closely with the party in setting the mood. But we don’t take ourselves so seriously to say that we won the elections. Elections are won by political parties and their workers. We are the support system and the support system has been very good I would like to believe.
Over the years, how has the government’s creative brief to you evolved?
The brief is always designed to specific areas. Briefs and executions have evolved on a day-to-day basis. The overall theme that you create is for television. For TV we take the general scenario because you can’t create campaigns everyday.
When there are specific issues then we go for print media (ads) which are designed on a daily basis. We have a team which is on ground and in touch with what’s happening. They were briefing our other teams on a regular basis almost like daily basis. So, it’s a scenario of working together, very closely and very fast. People don’t sleep. Our teams were present on the ground before the election and through the election. There were a number of young people and I only salute them more than anything else. It was a team effort. Each one played his part beautifully. In fact, I ended up thanking their families for sparing them, away from home and working like maniacs. I owe them all a lot of sleep.
How much of this campaign was overseen by members from the BJP, including Narendra Modi?
Amit Shah was involved with us right through. How much of it was being shared with Mr Modi I don’t know. Everything we did was by and large seen by him (Shah).
What were the crucial moments during this campaign?
Big moments were when the Prime Minister went to Varanasi. When the party manifesto was launched. We actually had no time to think of big moments, every moment was a big moment. Every day that went by was a day gone.
Anything that stood out in this state election?
I think it’s the BJP and the belief in Mr Modi. The way the party led by Amit Shah looked at issues from various parts of UP and within that the ailing issues of each region. For Bundelkhand , the issues were different, likewise for eastern UP and western UP. So it was nicely segmented and I think that’s what worked. It wasn’t like one size fits all.
How does it feel today after it’s all over?
It feels absolutely fantastic to be on a team that has won. And it has always been like that since 2014.
Any memorable reactions after the state election win?
Without giving names, what I heard from the party was our record stands 100% as of date.
What do you think of the current crop of advertising content being made?
I have always been happy with what India is doing. Is this point the highest point I really can’t say. There will always be ups when there are great campaigns and there will be periods when there won’t be great campaigns, there will be regular stuff. So these are cyclical. Whenever there is a Zoozoo campaign, for instance, the country is on a high. I’m not one of those who say this is the golden year or that is the golden era. I think there are golden campaigns from time to time.
What was the last golden campaign according to you?
I think the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign was a golden campaign. It was a milestone (Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar).
How has the government’s spending power changed?
I think there are a number of efforts that the government is making today whether its Make in India or Swachh Bharat. I think there is a conscious effort being made to stay connected with people and to reach out to people. I think the government has done a good job of keeping people informed about what its up to.
What’s keeping you busy these days?
As we speak, as of now, the IPL is keeping me busy. We have created the Waah re waah campaign for the BCCI (Board of Control of Cricket in India). We have worked on this account since its inception. That will keep me busy for the next few months, plus we have Mumbai Indians account. I think it’s going to be a lot of cricket and I’d be watching. I’m looking forward to going to some games.