Shreyas Kulkarni
Social Media

“It’s about the first cut impression": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

The co-founder and chief creative officer of Taproot Dentsu talks about art, shortened attention spans, and working from home.

Social media today talks about only one thing - Coronavirus. The good, the bad, the ugly and, of course, the rumours!

And in this gigantic pool, we came across an eye-catching initiative.

Bhupal Ramnathkar, founder of Umbrella Design, had designed a blank yellow template. Alumni of Sir JJ School of Art (Ramnathkar was one, too) were invited to post slogan/tagline/art/typo-calligraphy/illustration. It was their way of fighting against the virus.

One particular image resembled a microorganism-like entity; a bit like the virus, to be honest, but with tentacles protruding from it. And below it was written ‘RUMORS KILL’.

“It’s about the first cut impression": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

It was made by Santosh Padhi, co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot Dentsu.

“It’s about the first cut impression": Santosh Padhi, Taproot Dentsu

Padhi says the tentacle-like things are megaphones. They represent the avalanche of news we are exposed to. The virus is killing, but many people are under a lot of stress that’s generated through rumours. “The megaphone is more dangerous than the real virus. Thousands of people are scared of hearing idiotic news,” he emphasised.

Before we forward any message, we must go online to find out whether it is authentic, or not. We, too, contribute to fake news so, it is our responsibility to check first and then share it because it is also our responsibility to spread the good news.

Art is taking prominence in today’s digital world, especially during times like these. Padhi agrees that the visual medium is more important than ever before.

He says the world today has a short attention span and that’s the reality we’re living in... We have to keep engaging with the audience (especially the younger generation) with bare minimal communication that is simple and delivers a smile.

And because of such attention spans, the visual world has become more welcome and attractive. So, it is no surprise that we see such excellent work on visual-driven platforms like Instagram.

But, it comes with its challenges. People want to see that 'square' on the platform, or else zoom in and they’ll scroll down right away if they don’t like what they see. So, it’s a lot more challenging for visual communicators like us. Even in print ads, the question that’s on our minds is - How do I catch my target audiences’ attention for my client’s ad?

It was different 10-15 years ago. People had time to go through long-form articles, and would spend time on images and sketches. Today, the 24 hours have become far more valuable. No one wants to waste time on stuff they aren’t interested in.

Padhi says, “It’s about the first cut impression.” The first glance, how my TG likes me and interacts with me. Keeping up has become more challenging than ever. Thus, craft and visuals have become important. “How we make communication art is quite important,” he states.

While people, who consume art and visual work on social media platforms, often glance through, rather than consume the said work, it does provide artists and agencies with a mass audience stage - one that wasn’t available before.

Padhi likens it to a Catch-22 situation. He goes on to say that while we’ve got access to a larger audience, our competition has increased, too. “We are not competing with other brands, or ads, but with real life,” he says. Say, a youngster is walking down the street, phone in hand, and viewing my ad, but suddenly, he sees an attractive gown in a store’s display or a furniture set or even a fancy car, his attention will be diverted.

“As communicators, we have to keep reinventing and get better. The pressure is on us to make more interesting innovation.”

The conversation soon moved to work from home. For nearly all of us, it was a mandatory move and out of our hands. Some are suited to it, while others aren’t.

Padhi happens to be one of those who aren’t fond of working from home. While he agreed there is comfort, in terms of family or best quality of coffee, but he is from a world where four different heads of teams or departments come together to solve a problem. “I’m old school, a real hug does more difference than 100 virtual hugs, and I find it hard to work from home.”

The first couple of days were spent in completing pending jobs but right now, everything has slowed down and taken a pause. He says, “The first week, with everyone at their homes away from each other, was terrible. Yet, you had to deliver, despite the challenges. It was the first time I was working from home for such a long time.”

He talked about how work was traditionally done: The client first gives the brief, strategists crack an insight. The creative team (art and copy) either agree or challenge the strategists and sometimes, even the brief. Then a rough idea is developed and shown to the client, once the client approves, the studio people come into the picture.

When you sit with others in the office, you crack ideas faster, strategise quicker, but at home, you can’t do any of these things with the same speed.