N. Shatrujeet

'Ideas are stronger; craft has to improve': Jeff Orr, regional CD, Grey Group

Jeff Orr, regional creative director, Grey Group, Asia-Pacific, who visited India last week, speaks about the purpose behind his visit and the product at Grey India

The Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore offices of Grey Worldwide (India) played host to an important visitor from the Grey network last week - Jeff Orr, regional creative director, Grey Group, Asia-Pacific, and member of Grey's Global Creative Council, who was on a whistle-stop tour of the Grey offices in India. Orr, whose regional responsibilities involve overseeing Grey's creative product in the Asia-Pacific (which includes India), took time out of a busy schedule of internal meetings, client meetings and informal creative sessions to speak to agencyfaqs! about the purpose behind his visit and the product at Grey India.

"I come to India once in three months, and in my role of guide, mentor and critic, I give guidance to the creative and account management teams here through workshops on idea development," says Orr. "Creativity is not a province exclusive to creative people in agencies, and I help build bridges between creative and account management to enable them to jointly come out with better ideas and solutions." This particular visit, however, coincides with quite a few recent senior-level appointments in creative at Grey India. For one, Prathap Suthan was promoted as national creative director of Grey India from Jan 1, this year. The same month, Raj Kurup was hired (from Lowe) as creative head of the Mumbai office, while roughly a month ago, Vikram Gaikwad (ex-Leo Burnett India) joined the Mumbai office as Kurup's art partner. And most recently, in Delhi, Nandu Narasimhan moved (from Contract Advertising) to head Grey's creative department in that city.

Alluding to the restructuring of creative in Grey India, Orr reveals that the timing of this visit was just right. "With Pats (Suthan) becoming NCD, Raj coming in at Mumbai, Nandu at Delhi, and Sanjay (Menon) doing a wonderful job in Bangalore, these are exciting times for Grey in India," he says. "There is a buzz in the agency, especially in Mumbai, which is energizing. The new people are an enthusiastic bunch, and with that kind of enthusiasm, they can't help but lead the agency forward. Also, they have the support of Nirvik (Singh, chairman, South Asia, Grey Global Group)."

Commenting on the standard of the work being produced by Grey's Indian offices, the Australian creative professional who has spent close to eight years with Grey Malaysia (before Grey, Orr was with Doyle Dane Bernbach, DDB Needham and BBDO) is of the opinion that while the ideas are stronger than before, the craft still needs improvement. "The headline can't simply explain the picture," he smiles wryly. "Also, people must know when to stop writing." Speaking on the areas that call for improvement he says, "Irrespective of the office or the agency, there are some things we in advertising have to constantly work upon. Make the idea sharper; make the proposition more interesting and provocative; and simplify, simplify, simplify. All this has to and will lift the quality of creative."

Orr can't stress enough on the importance attached to crafting and execution. "Craft is the only way to improve on an idea," he insists. He also wants his team in India to regularly surprise the consumer with fresh ideas and executions. "Write more provocatively and freshly. Every brand has to be kept fresh through its advertising, and advertising has to be a joy to read or look at." Orr adds that Grey India has to lift creative and move up the awards hierarchy. "It has to be done," he says decisively.

He is, however, of the opinion that there has been "a marked improvement" in Grey India's output in 2004. "There's some delightful work on CRY (Child Relief & You) that has been done out of Mumbai," he says. "Delhi has been doing a hell of a lot of work in trying to get the Government re-elected," he laughs, referring to the ‘India Shining' campaign. "All that work and the ONGC work has happened in a very short while, so the eye is slightly off the ball." He adds that building creative momentum does take time. "It will start with smaller clients, then have an effect on larger ones."

Orr is optimistic about the work at Grey India, no doubts about that. "The first quarter is out of the way, but there's a lot more to go - the creative team is coming together, so the work will get better," he concludes on a confident note. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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