Meet the Creative Gurus – Rahul Jauhari

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I thought it would be a good idea to chat up with some of India’s brightest Creative Stars. So, starting this week, here’s ‘Meet the Creative Gurus’, which will hopefully turn out to be a regular column.

rahul-jauhari1-150x150.jpgThis week, meet Rahul Jauhari, National Creative Director of Pickle Advertising. Rahul started off with McCann Erickson in 1996 and then moved to Rediffusion DY&R where had a long stint. He moved up the ranks to become Executive Creative Director at Rediff, before he joined Pickle. Rahul has worked on several Indian and international brands and has been instrumental in some truly effective advertising for Airtel, Tata Ace, Tata Nano among others. You can view his LinkedIn profile here. His honor’s roll includes awards from Cannes, Abbys, KAAN and Effies. Rahul also authors a blog, 24 Belvedere Estate.

Herewith a few questions to Rahul and his e-mailed answers:

1. Rahul, tell us a little bit about your triggers and motivations for getting into advertising? Was it the proverbial ‘I’ve always wanted to get into advertising’ or was it unplanned? What were the early experiences like?

I had friends in advertising who insisted I was right for the profession and vice-versa. And what they did for a living seemed very cool. So somewhere in my 3rd year of engineering I made a trip to Mumbai. Spent a week with the friends. Partied with ad-folk. Somewhere Ramanuj Shastry (who was part of that party crowd and a junior writer at Ogilvy) had a corrupting influence on my sanity as well. I came back convinced this was it. And haven’t regretted it ever.

I had a baptism by fire. I didn’t get a copy test. The CD at McCann Delhi gave me a real branding assignment. After 3 days, he told me to stay on. So I started on a paltry stipend, worked my butt off and quickly got confirmed. Early experiences were about doing tonnes of work (of all kinds), feeling hungry for more, lots of mad parties and almost never going home to sleep.

2. What big changes do you see in advertising business today, as compared to your early days in advertising. We know that you aren’t that old, but nevertheless…

1. The Internet is freely available on every desktop. And it is fast.
2. There is more than one Creative Director in one office.
3. We now have Planners to write briefs.
4. Design was a cell then – we have companies now.
5. Agencies are now being headed by Creative people.
6. Advertising has less wildlife. Ad folk take advertising too seriously nowadays.
7. Agencies now spend a SERIOUS amount on awards.
8. Copying is more difficult, because everyone visits the same sites.
9. Agencies were respected more back then (our own doing)
10. Media has moved smarter, faster than agencies themselves.

3. Which campaign or project has given you the most satisfaction till date? And why?

Very difficult to pin down one or two. But if I try very very hard, I’d pick two.

One was a campaign for Airtel which I did with Chax – the unexpected man turned out to be the mobile owner (Panwallah’s assistant, tea-boy in a barber’s shop) – it was satisfying because the campaign changed a lot of things for Airtel, as changed the mobile market itself.

Tata ACE (baby elephant) was another such campaign. Besides being a huge success, it gave the vehicle a name that has still stuck with the consumer. Incidentally, neither campaign won a creative award. (ACE did win at the EFFIES)

4. You’ve had a fairy long stint with Rediffusion DY&R. Long stints in a single company is a rarity these days. What in your opinion, is the motivation for youngsters to hop jobs frequently? What can agencies do to retain talent at both junior & senior levels?

I stuck with Rediffusion YR because the challenges kept changing every now and then. Which is possibly the reason why I grew fast. I also met some great mentors there. On the face of it, the motivation for youngsters would seem agency fame/name and money. Ad agencies do NOT nourish talent or invest in them as much as they should do. Yes talent can be bought at a price. But if you nourish in-house talent, chances are you won’t need to buy a new NCD every 3-4 years.

5. Any recent campaign, Indian and global, that made you go, ‘I wish I had done that’?

Indian – Lead India, Tata Tea (Jaago Re), Idea (Caste War, Education)
Global – Whopper Sacrifice ( Crispin Porter & Bogusky, USA) & The Trillion Dollar Campaign for The Zimbabwean by TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris, SA

6. If you were to meet a fresher raring to get into the Creative department in an advertising agency, what would be 5 pieces of advice you would give?

There is lots. I’ll give 10, since advice is free:

1. Focus on work, the money will follow.
2. A poster for a beauty saloon does NOT compare to a real campaign on a big brand.
3. Grow slow – a CD in 5 years is rarely a CD – 5 years is too less to learn enough to guide others.
4. The difference between an unreleased campaign and a released one is conviction, not talent.
5. Sporting long hair does not make you a creative person.
6. Don’t critique awards till you win some yourself.
7. Write. Draw. Rewrite. Redraw.
8. Listen.
9. Give credit, where due, freely.
10. Learn to sell your own work, yourself.

Many thanks to Rahul for taking time out to answer these questions. Hope you enjoyed reading this column. Rahul willing, we could look at Part 2 of this interview soon! What would you like to ask the Creative Gurus? Who else would you like to interviewed? Do write in with your comments.

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  1. vivek kamath Reply

    interesting reading and some really interesting work (good to put a face to it). please try and include some filmmakers in this series. and design folk. like rahul said, design has grown from a cell to a business in its own right.

      • vivek kamath Reply

        you can’t be serious. there are plenty more fish in the sea. and i don’t even work in advertising any more.

  2. Even though I was under Rahul Sir for a very short stint, I knew right away he was solid about his work. He’s been a huge inspiration for me. Lovely post. 🙂

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