A chat with the adman about his future plans, memories of the ad world and favourite pastime - restoring cars.
A lifetime spent in advertising, during some of its most notable years in India, culminated in this chapter of Rayomand J Patell’s life. He started his career in 1993, as an intern at Everest (which was Everest Young & Rubicam at the time), before moving on to SSC&B Lintas in 2000. In 2004, Patell joined Contract India, where he worked as vice president and senior creative director – group head. His decade-long stint with Contract India ended in 2015, when he joined Havas Worldwide as executive senior director. Patell quit Havas in June 2019 and, for the longest time, his LinkedIn bio was an open invitation to ‘watch this space for more’. Recently, Patell announced that he was joining Idealake, a digital agency based in Mumbai, as chief creative officer.
“I’ve had my eye on this place for a while, and the work they do is seriously futuristic. They engineered the McDonald’s McDelivery app in 2004. At the time, it was revolutionary since Swiggy and Zomato hadn’t made it to the scene yet,” Patell explains. After leaving Havas, Patell had offers to lead a digital agency, but he turned it down as he was looking to do something more meaningful.
“Working at another agency, or another network, would be within the advertising ecosystem again, and I didn’t want that. In the ad world right now, tech is seen as an outside force, but the idea is to go beyond that. I thought it would be easier to join a tech company and pivot that around, with an additional layer of creative communication. The idea of bringing communication into a tech company was fascinating for me. The culture at the tech company is pretty much the same. But, there is none of the arrogance that can be seen in the agency world, which is a pleasant side of this,” says Patell. He likens himself to a kid in a candy store who is learning how to harness tech in advertising.
Patell discusses the evolution of the digital medium over the years. He stresses on the fact that digital cannot be viewed in isolation as a medium. It should rather be looked upon as a mode of functioning. Patell takes us through his journey in advertising, which had early beginnings in Mumbai’s Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC).
He also emphasised on the fact that the basic tenets of selling a product to a consumer won't change. "The idea is to create a demand and to position a brand as a solution," he says. Recalling his days at Everest, Patell mentions that the briefs he worked on were fascinating and written in a way that was meant to encourage creative thought. He added that at Everest, the brief was designed by global partner Saatchi & Saatchi in such a way that by the time a creative person finished reading it, he already had an idea and was thinking of ways to execute it.
He calls the current model of functioning in the ad world essentially flawed. People are pouring money into the medium, but the measurement results are still unclear. "Everyone thought that digital would be the next big thing, but it cannot function in isolation in India's advertising landscape. That's like trying to run a car with only one wheel. You know that's not going to happen," says Patell.
Outside of work, Patell takes a keen interest in cars. His hobby is to restore old cars for friends and family. He has a collection of luxury cars that he has personally restored.