N. Shatrujeet

Puneet Bhatnagar returns to Bates as creative director

Roughly a year after leaving Bates India to join STAR News as creative head – channel communications, Puneet Bhatnagar has rejoined his old agency

Roughly a year after leaving Bates India to join STAR News as creative head - channel communications, Puneet Bhatnagar has retraced his steps to the agency where he has spent much of his advertising career. In his second stint at Bates, Bhatnagar assumes the role of creative director, and will be "a sort of national resource for all the communication that the agency creates for the Hindi-speaking belt", to quote Rajiv Agarwal, managing director & CEO, Bates India.

Bhatnagar, who started his career in the language department at Lintas (now Lowe), moved to Bates in 1995, where he spent the next eight years working on a variety of brands and accounts. Sometime in 2001, Bhatnagar commenced working on the promotional campaign for STAR Plus' big-ticket game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (Bates handled the KBC account back then), which culminated in the popular ‘Nau baj gaye kya?' campaign featuring Amitabh Bachchan. Subsequent campaigns for STAR Gold (‘Nimbu maarke') brought Bhatnagar in close contact with the STAR Network, and in early 2003, he moved to STAR News. "I had worked with STAR, and when they made me an offer to head the creative team at STAR News, I took it because starting something from scratch looked like an interesting challenge," he says.

However, the association with STAR was fairly short-lived, the reason being Bhatnagar's desire to complete writing a script for his full-length feature film. "I was not getting the time to script the feature, and that was something I really wanted to do," he says. "So I quit STAR, took a three month break and finished writing the first draft." The decision to rejoin Bates happened shortly thereafter. "Rajeev (Raja) and (JS) Mani gave me the option of coming back. Bates is like a family to me, and I was keen to work with good people, so I decided to return." It's not sheer sentimentality alone that brings Bhatnagar back to his old agency. "Bates is perhaps the only place where ideation in languages happens, which gives people like me a good chance to do meaningful advertising. That is one reason I had no hesitation in rejoining," he says.

If Bhatnagar is pleased to be back at Bates, Mani (senior vice-president & general manager, Bates India) and Raja (executive creative director, Bates India) are equally happy to have somebody with Bhatnagar's talents on board. "Bhatnagar is a terrific guy and his coming back will be a great strength to us," says Mani. "He has a strong understanding of the Hindi-speaking consumer, and he will be of great value to us in our efforts to spot and track culture trends in the Hindi belt."

Raja too is looking forward to Bhatnagar's contribution vis-à-vis vernacular advertising. "Puneet and Ram Murugan (associate creative director, Bates India) grew under our guidance, and today, they are leading our Hindi and Tamil culture labs, respectively," he points out. "Puneet and Ram conceive original ideas in the languages, drawn from cultural perspectives and idioms. This approach helps our advertising connect with the masses, and in that sense, with Puneet's return, the communication for the Hindi-speaking audiences will happen in a more focused manner. Puneet is a welcome addition to our future plans." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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