Tiwari's journey as a copywriter began while he was still a student pursuing an engineering degree at IIT Bombay; fate had different plans charted out for him as he gave up a career in software to take up writing for brands as a profession. afaqs! profiles the recently appointed chief creative officer of Leo Burnett India.
Leo Burnett India's newly appointed chief creative officer, Nitesh Tiwari is quick to point out that he was lucky to be blessed with the right opportunities in his 16-year long career as a creative professional.
After completing the engineering degree, he joined a software company but left the job in three months, quickly realising that he did not belong there, or as he puts it, "life is too short to be not doing what you love".
With little agency experience, love for everything creative and few references in the industry, Tiwari sent applications for the role of a copywriter.
Draftfcb Ulka initially spotted his potential and took him on board. "Ulka took me seriously, probably because Ambi (M G Parameswaran) and Shashi Sinha are IITians. They, I think, were curious to know more of this 'stupid fellow' who wanted to mess up his career wanting to be a copywriter," quips Tiwari. He joined Draftfcb Ulka in 1996.
As a specialist Hindi writer, Tiwari began with the four creative directors at the agency. Being trained by four specialists in different styles, he quickly got his first brief to write a television commercial for Captain Cook Atta.
"It was nice of my boss to think that a six-month-old trainee could write a TVC. I wrote four scripts and all were presented to the client. None of them made it. It was a high for me nonetheless," he remembers.
Tiwari's learning continued at Lowe, where he worked under "three great advertising brains" - Priti Nair, K V Sridhar and R Balki.
"Lowe was a fantastic and rigorous training ground that taught me the art of advertising," he remembers."You can't write just what comes to your mind. At the end of the day, you're trying to give a creative solution to a problem your client has. Meeting consumers, spending time with them, seeing their lifestyle, seeing how they respond to your creative work was an eye-opener for me," Tiwari further adds.
He recalls the streak of competitiveness at Lowe, where Nair, Balki and Pops constantly kept him on his toes. "If you did not have a good idea, they (the bosses) would come up with a better idea and you would lose out on an opportunity to get your work out," he recalls. At Lowe, he honed his leadership skills, too.
The 'people's person' says he gets attached to a place very easily and it was difficult for him to leave behind Draftfcb Ulka and then Lowe. However, in October 2003, Leo Burnett presented before him opportunities that he could not resist. He joined as a creative director.
"We are a very open, extremely transparent agency. We do not have doors here. The idea is the boss," he says.
Tiwari looks at the Leo Burnett global network as one family, and people from the various offices of the agency across the globe meet him like his own branch colleagues.