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India's 'Mad Men' on Mad Men, the show

Star World Premiere HD, the channel that airs Madison Avenue-based show Mad Men, spoke to Ogilvy's Piyush Pandey, Lowe's R Balki and McCann's Prasoon Joshi about the show and the industry it represents.

What better way to promote the final, seventh season of the award-winning television period drama series 'Mad Men' in India than to get the original Mad Men of Indian advertising to talk about their experiences in this crazy world of creativity?

India's 'Mad Men' on Mad Men, the show
India's 'Mad Men' on Mad Men, the show
India's 'Mad Men' on Mad Men, the show
India's 'Mad Men' on Mad Men, the show
And, that's precisely what was done. Star World Premiere HD, the channel that airs the show, caught up with Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and creative director, Ogilvy South Asia; R Balki, chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe Lintas & Partners; and Prasoon Joshi, chairman and chief creative officer, McCann Worldgroup India and president, South Asia, and got them to talk about the show, its characters and of course, the Indian advertising industry.

When asked why he decided to enter the ad world, after having tried his hand at tea tasting and professional cricket, Ogilvy's Pandey said, "I think it all boils down to the joy of working and your passion. I played cricket because I loved it. I joined a tea company as a tea taster since some of my very good friends were working there and we had great fun but eventually I got bored of it. I was looking to do something that I loved and I was fortunate enough to run into some people who were working in the advertising industry. I had not planned my foray into advertising and I had no idea that I would be successful. I still have no idea if I am successful."

About his favourite campaign and best work till date, Pandey added, "I have always maintained that one's favourite campaigns must change otherwise you will be dated. If you keep living in the glory of the past then you will not focus on the present or the future. Some of the notable campaigns I worked on in the 80's are Fevicol, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kelvinator, to name a few. You need to evolve with changing times like the advertisements for Google Reunion, Google Vote or even my recent Fevicol advertisement with chairs. While one may have done some notable work in the past, one never knows if one's best is yet to come. "

Meanwhile, McCann's Joshi gave a then-and-now perspective when asked about the similarities and differences between the advertising scenarios today as compared to what the show portrays in 1960s. "It is extremely different," Joshi stated, "USA was going through an entrepreneurial renaissance, a transformation as a country, with a lot of emerging new companies. It was the golden era of capitalism in the US. All the celebrated brands we see today were launched at that time."

He added, "So they were at a nascent stage, somewhat similar to the scenario in India today. There are a lot of young entrepreneurs that are starting companies. For instance I just met two entrepreneurs recently and it reminded me of a couple of scenes from Mad Men. There are a lot of the advertising start-ups in our country and if you watch Mad Men, you can gauge the similarities. In terms of a key difference, in the '60s, women were not empowered and got a raw deal even in the so-called modern professions. The women today are at par and in powerful positions in the advertising industry."

Lowe's Balki had a different take on this. "I don't know much, though I have heard stories about the advertising scenario in the 1960's. A lot of meetings used to take place outside office premises in various restaurants. People would consume alcohol in their offices and it was not considered a taboo back then. In a nutshell, one can say that the working environment was definitely more relaxed back then compared to today," he said.

Has the creative scenario evolved over the years? Balki answered, "The creative process in advertising is more or less the same. Having said that, the work load has increased for advertising professionals. A lot of it is centred on putting out fires aka crisis management. You have an issue and you need to take measures to control or solve it. And it really does not matter what year or decade it is, you need to adapt with the changing times and customise your solutions for the said issues."

No more than 12 hours after its premiere in the USA, the seventh season of Mad Men was launched in India on April 14 at the 10:00 pm slot. The show airs on Star World Premiere HD every Monday. Each episode is around 45 minutes long.

The current leg of the seventh season comprises seven episodes. The show ends on May 26. Seven more episodes, also part of the final season, are scheduled to be aired in the US in 2015.

The show is set in the 1960s. The protagonist is Madison Avenue advertising executive Don Draper, a character played by actor Jon Hamm. Created and executive produced by Matthew Weiner, the series is produced by Lionsgate.

Read the full interviews with Piyush Pandey, R Balki and Prasoon Joshi exclusively on afaqs!.

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