Ashwini Gangal
Interviews

"It is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton": Piyush Pandey on Pandeymonium

Ogilvy's creative supremo Piyush Pandey chats with us about his recently launched book Pandeymonium. While at it, the executive chairman and creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, India and South Asia, also tells us why he has used upper case when clarifying, through the book, that he harbours, and we quote, "NO INTENTION TO WORK ANYWHERE OTHER THAN OGILVY."

Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

Let's talk about the process of putting this book together. What was the hardest bit?
"It is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton": Piyush Pandey on Pandeymonium
I went through the toughest part for three years - of thinking, 'What should I write?' (laughs)

I did not want to write a book that was 'prescriptive'. If I did, I wouldn't be faithful to myself. I'm a person who has never followed a 'prescription' in his life. I have always had very little faith in 'How to' books and articles. It means you know everything; I don't. I'm still discovering myself.

So if you're trying your best not to be prescriptive, where do you begin? That was the toughest part. That's why it took me a long time to decide to write it.

I wanted the book to be more about my view of playing the game.

Also, when you sit (to write) at once stretch, memories are difficult to capture; that happens over many days. So, it - the book - is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton.

That's an interesting descriptor...
"It is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton": Piyush Pandey on Pandeymonium
(Going on about the book) I wanted to keep it relevant. It was not about writing an autobiography. It was not about writing theories on advertising. It is about experiences. It's about how my life and my work influenced one another.

I think the book should influence parents in terms of helping their children chase their passion. It should influence children to respect the freedom given to them by their parents. It should be interesting to friends who should ask one another, 'How much can I get out of you?' and 'How much can I give to you?'

And then come advertisers and marketers.

If the title 'Life Is Beautiful' wasn't taken already, I probably would have called this book that.

One would assume that one of the biggest challenges in a process like this was deciding what to leave out. Was it?

That's a lovely question.

Yes, that was the biggest thing - What will I leave out? Also - Whom will I end up offending... by not naming them in the book? It's 33 years of my career and 60 years of my life; there are 100s of people who've had some influence - huge or small - on me. So there was pressure.

But, I've tried my best to include whoever I could.

I'm sure there were chapters that you wrote and later decided to exclude from the final copy...
"It is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton": Piyush Pandey on Pandeymonium
Yes, those were chapters where I felt I got too theoretical or preachy. I either threw them out or re-wrote them.

Then, there are little bits and pieces that I got a little late on... the ideas struck me after the book had gone (to press). I'd forgotten to mention a really important person - a friend of mine who studied with me from Class I to MA final... If at all this book is re-printed, I'll try and add it in...

The first line of this paragraph reads: 'It's great to have a ghost as a friend...' He is nicknamed 'Bhoot'.

'NO, I AM NOT STARTING AN AGENCY OF MY OWN. NO, I AM NOT JOINING ANOTHER AGENCY. I HAVE NO INTENTION OR WISH TO WORK ANYWHERE OTHER THAN OGILVY.'

That's how your afterward titled 'Why I Never Started My Own Agency' begins. Why was it so important for you to clarify this so emphatically?

It's very simple.

It's about how people have been speculating about my career, and about how insensitive they can be. When I say insensitive, I mean two things.

Firstly, passing judgments and saying, 'This is what he is going to do'... can make some very young people insecure. People who say, 'I joined this business because I admire the kind of work Piyush does... and now there are talks of Piyush doing this and that, and starting his own agency...' It is insensitive to speculate without thinking about the consequences.

Secondly, the speculation can make my new clients insecure. Old clients know me. But it can still make people insecure.

And despite my various statements, this speculation went on and on. I just thought I should express myself. I thought I may as well answer all the 'whys'.

"It is like slowly cooked 'jungli' mutton": Piyush Pandey on Pandeymonium
Well, the speculation hasn't stopped despite your afterward. Some say the release of the book is timed to precede your retirement...

I think then it would have been 'better timing' to write the book after I'd chosen to call it day. Then, I would have been a little more candid about a lot of people. Then, lots of people would not have liked me very much. (laughs)

Anyway, there is no 'deadline' given to me, whatsoever.

Till I am contributing - from my point of view, from the agency's point of view - I am there. Till health permits, I am there. The day the company feels I should move on, or the day I feel I haven't woken up feeling as excited about life as I was the previous day, well, that's the 'deadline'.

Even so, what next for Piyush Pandey?

Next? - Tomorrow morning, at Ogilvy. (laughs)

I have no plans to start writing movies or this or that or anything...

I have just returned from a client meeting and tomorrow morning I have another one.

Which client?

I was just looking at some new work for Coca-Cola...