Hosted by Gaurav Kapur, the podcast '22 Yarns' is streaming on Spotify
A veteran in advertising, ad-guru, CCO Worldwide and executive chairman India, Ogilvy, Piyush Pandey's romance with cricket is well documented. From leading Rajasthan in under-22 C K Nayudu trophy to playing for the state in Ranji Trophy, the wicket-keeper batsman before turning a tea-taster and then an advertiser had done enough to have a cricketer's profile which goes by the name - Pijush Indranarain Pandey.
The lyricist of "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara" arguably the most renowned non-movie song in India recently featured in an episode of '22 Yarns' a podcast streaming on Spotify. The Sweden headquartered music streaming platform recently announced its podcasts in India and one of them is '22 Yarns' hosted by popular presenter Gaurav Kapur. In each episode, Kapur hosts an individual and they both discuss the sport and people associated with the game. Harsha Bhogle (Commentator), Ayaz Memon (Journalist and Author), Joy Bhattacharjee (Former director, KKR) are the others who have featured in the series.
In the Piyush Pandey episode, Kapur addresses him as a "professional cricket fan", given that cricket featured in Pandey's ad-works all throughout his career. Kapur takes Pandey back to his college days and reminds him of the famous Hindu College and St. Stephens' on-field rivalry. Pandey who used to study in St. Stephens, spoke about a match against Hindu College. "In 1975 - 76, we were 53 for six and I was walking in to bat as Arun Lal (former Indian cricketer) was heading towards the pavilion. On his way, he told me, 53 for six is a problem for an ordinary person but an opportunity for an extraordinary one. I went and scored 71 runs but that advice of his I have never forgotten in my career. In adversity lies opportunity and that is what I followed all throughout."
I made it to the Ranji Trophy and I thought I have become a rockstar. I stitched myself new clothes but forgot to practise and I failed.Piyush Pandey
Pandey shares many stories in the 34-minute-episode. From cricket, Kapur dives into advertising after Pandey says, "I made it to the Ranji Trophy and I thought I have become a rockstar. I stitched myself new clothes but forgot to practise and I failed."
A while after they have discussed the famous Cadbury Dairy Milk ad that he wrote behind his boarding pass (Kuch Khaas Hai, Cadbury girl dancing in the cricket field), the Four Square cricket gears ad in which cricketers sail a snake boat and many others, Kapur asks him about the proposal he wrote in 1995. Apparently, Lalit Modi had asked Pandey to draft a proposal that later became the Indian Premier League in 2009. "He wanted us to draft a proposal for an NBA (National Basketball Association) of cricket in India." Pandey shares that he along with Arun Lal had prepared a draft which Lalit Modi presented to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and got shooed away.
"Later when Lalit Modi became the vice-president of BCCI, he asked me to update the draft and that is what we all have as IPL now," shares Pandey. They both discuss the success of the tournament and how nobody thought it would turn out to be the biggest domestic cricket tournament in the world. After IPL was announced, BCCI had to create an ad to promote the tournament. In India, cricket is much more than a sport, it is often termed as religion, one of the biggest unifiers in the country. But the problem with IPL was - Indian audience never saw Sachin Tendulkar play against Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly or Anil Kumble bowling to get Rahul Dravid out caught behind. Besides an odd Ranji Trophy match, the domestic rivalries were never telecast on television.
So, the board decided to call for a pitch and all top creative agencies participated in it. Ogilvy (then known as Ogilvy & Mather) too went there, "There was some misunderstanding," recalls Pandey. "We thought they only wanted credentials and so we went there without the work. The moment we entered, they asked us for our work and we replied saying "you didn't ask us to get the work". They said it was mentioned in the fine print. I realised we had faltered, and asked for 24 hours' permission to submit it. The committee allowed it."
Pandey narrates, "I went back home and wrote 'Karmayudh' and I spoke to my brother, (Prasoon Pandey, director, Corcoise Films) and said you will do the voiceover and then called Ram Sampath (music director) and said you will do the music and we have to do all of it today. We put together sketches - what we call in advertising a still-o-matic which is like a comic book and we presented it. The board got blown away."
Kapur asks him about the reaction he received after the ad was out, "Fantastic! People got goosebumps," he replies. "Because it was done in Indian style and because it had so much energy in it, the reactions were fantastic. "I am going to watch this" - is what people felt. What we presented in 24 hours is what you have seen, we have never revised it. We have done every IPL ad for BCCI thereafter."
Most dear to me is the first one. Because the degree of difficulty was the highest, because we had faltered and had to make up and we made up.Piyush Pandey
Kapur immediately follows up by asking Pandey to pick his favourite from the lot, "If your favourites don't change every year, you must retire," Pandey laughs. "Most dear to me is the first one. Because the degree of difficulty was the highest, because we had faltered and had to make up and we made up. Because of that, we are here today," he replies.
In the episode of the podcast, Kapur speaks about the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, which India won, beating Sri Lanka in the final. India had very little chance to host the tournament as Australia-New Zealand were the favourites. But then again, cricket administrator Lalit Modi and Piyush Pandey managed to turn the tables.
"He called me and said we might have a chance, so prepare a presentation which we need to present to the ICC in Dubai. While everyone was making powerpoint presentations, we decided to present India's case through a coffee table book. BCCI approved our idea, we had the Prime Minister's quote and all in the coffee book and we got it," says Pandey. "I still remember, Kunal Jeswani who is now the CEO of Ogilvy India had gone to present it in Dubai and I was at a bar in Jaipur. When Lalit Modi called me and said Piyush we have got it, I stood up and said to all in the bar, the drink is on me!" he concludes.