Ankit Ajmera

The young guns of Indian advertising

Advertising is perceived to be an industry of young minds. Last year, ad professionals aged under 30 competed with veterans to win both national and international awards

Rediffusion DY&R's Preeti Varma and Anto Noval; Contract's Vineet Mahajan and Fritz Gonzalves; O&M's Shirin Johri, Keegan Pinto and Sujoy Roy; Publicis Ambience's Manish Patel and Aashish Pathak; Lowe's Mihir Dhairyawan; Mudra's Mukund Olety and Sainath P; JWT's Shounak Guha; Bates David Enterprise's Malhaar Rao, Jigar Fernandes and Sandesh Mangaonkar; and Leo Burnett's Mithun Mirji, Kunal Sawant and Kapil Bhimekar. They are all young Indian advertising professionals under 30 years of age, who did themselves proud at various awards last year, at both the national and international levels. (To view the complete list, click here.)

Advertising is perceived to be an industry of young minds – mainly because young people are believed to be able to think out of the box and come up with hard-hitting, revolutionary ideas. The trend in South America and the Far-East has long been that young ad professionals sweep away the awards, but now it’s happening in India, too.

The young guns of Indian advertising
Sandesh Mangaonkar & Jigar Fernandes
Ravi Deshpande, chief creative officer, Contract Advertising, says he is not surprised by the number of young professionals wining prestigious awards. He says, “You had better be winning awards if you are under 30. Young people are supposed to win awards to prove their calibre continuously.”

Deshpande believes that awards are the best form of recognition, but he is against the idea of encouraging young professionals to work only for awards. He says, “The ideas that are generated out of practice should be tested with clients. It is the best way of improving the quality of work.”

The young guns of Indian advertising
Mukund Olety & Sainath P
The young guns of Indian advertising
Fritz Gonzalves
The young guns of Indian advertising
Malhar Rao
The young guns of Indian advertising
Mihir Dhairyawan
Not that winning awards is a piece of cake, whether it is in the days gone by or today, says Deshpande, explaining, “Today’s young professionals indulge in more proactive work than what used to be in the old days. And this is what has made the difference.”

Prasanna Sankhe, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, says strongly that winning awards is tougher for today’s young professionals. “It may seem easy to many, but the fact is that there is so much happening in the advertising industry that most of the ideas have already been exhausted. Young people try harder to come up with original and innovative concepts.”

Sankhe considers this change a result of the growing influence of international exposure. “The young generation is well aware of the standard of ads internationally and can gauge the weight of their ideas in the international market. This has seriously raised the bar for the Indian advertising industry.”

Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, national creative director, Rediffusion DY&R, says that even senior professionals can learn from junior creative people at times. “It doesn’t always have to be a senior professional teaching the young guys about creativity. Ideas can come from everyone,” says Mahabaleshwarkar.

“It’s important to respect the fresh insights provided by young professionals,” he adds.

Santosh Padhi, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, says today’s young creative professionals are far more aggressive than those of 10 years ago. He even puts a figure to it. “If a decade back, the aggressiveness of young professionals could be marked at 20, today, it can be marked at 50.”

Padhi agrees that international exposure has played a major role in shaping the new professionals of India with respect to quality of ideas and their execution. According to him, awards not only boost the confidence of young professionals, they also expand the parameters of their thinking process.

However, Padhi raises an issue that is not only controversial, but could be the augury of death for young creativity. He points out that there are many instances of creative heads of agencies taking the credit for their juniors’ work. This is one reason, he says, why young professionals hop between agencies looking for a mentor who will recognise and hone their potential.

Young professionals often compete with industry veterans on equal terms for awards. However, Anup Chitnis, executive creative director, O&M, says that to further encourage young creatives in India, there should be specific awards for the under-30s, like the YoungGuns International Advertising Awards.

Deshpande says he doesn’t feel the need for special awards for youngsters. “Awards shows in India are doing well to accommodate them all and, at the moment, there is no serious need (for such awards). But in the future, it may be a possibility.”

Well, perhaps he’s right. After all, if the young ‘uns are winning the awards anyway, where’s the need to institute special awards for them?

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