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Advertising Stories from Pandeymonium

Last week, I finished "Pandeymonium", one of the most celebrated book on advertising written by Piyush Pandey - Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and executive chairman India, Ogilvy

It is not just a book on advertising like David Ogilvy's "Ogilvy on advertising" but also a book on philosophy. The way in which Piyush described the events, you will feel a deep connection and multiple-Eureka moments throughout the pages.

To simply put the purpose of advertising:

“Whatever you say, say it with respect for the audience, say it in a context that the audience can understand, say it spontaneously, say it without fear, say it not to intimidate or frighten, but to delight.”

- Piyush Pandey

To maintain objectivity and brevity, I have divided my article into Tales. I have included many interesting events and did miss a few for the aforementioned reason.

Tale 1: How Ogilvy helped BCCI to win the 2016 T20 World Cup?

It’s the passion and the involvement that counts. Real Passion and Real Involvement, not pretended and play-acted. Ogilvy’s passion for cricket is real

In 2016, Australia-New Zealand’s combined bid looks strong & to convince ICC, BCCI needs to think differently. Ogilvy had to create a communication that demonstrates that India's bid is better than Australia-NZ. Predictable PPTs showcasing BCCI’s prowess won’t make it a cut.

Piyush & Team designed and printed a coffee-table book with letters from then PM Manmohan Singh, some letters from the Sri Lankan cricket board, and letters from Pakistan. The Book featured photographs of what cricket meant to the subcontinent, with images of cricket on streets, cricket in the lanes and by lanes of the three countries. We underlined that while Australia and New Zealand boasted of many popular sports, the subcontinent reserved all its passion for just on sports: Cricket.

The Bid was a winning one. They Won. Passion Won!

Tale 2: Know your Client’s Client (KYCC)

Whenever you make an ad, the focus should be on how your client’s client feels delighted to see the ad. What are the emotional touchpoints he has which increases his bond with your client?

While doing an ad for Pidilite’s Fevicol & Fevikwik, Piyush’s nostalgia helped him to create wonderful ads. Being raised in a middle-class family, Piyush had opportunities to interact with carpenters who were making the house furniture. All the conversation he had with them in childhood brought insights, no structured interviews & questionnaires can put forth.

Image 1: Fevicol's classic Ad showcasing how an egg of Hen who eats from Fevicol container become so strong

This incident reminds of David Ogilvy when they got Rolls-Royce as their client. They spent days in the factory and in shops, conversing with car dealers and clients, talking about what they value, what motivates, what they desire. After a few weeks of research, they come up with the below print ad, and boy they hit a jackpot.

Image 2: The Famous Headlines of Rolls-Royce ad written by David Ogilvy

Piyush’s strong belief in KYCC helped in for accounts such as Vodafone, Asian Paints, Cadbury, etc.

Tale 3: Ask stupid questions, Get stupid answers

Research does not mean going out with a piece of question paper & start asking questions to random people after showing them a package “What do you feel by looking at this package?”

The answer is “She doesn’t feel anything”, if she is with a bunch of friends, she will concoct something to save her face. The rest of the group will follow her path by pretending to look intelligent. They probably will laugh at the researcher about how weird his questions were.

With the advent of technology, researchers provide sci-fi star-war-like meters/dials where subjects are asked to register their emotional intensity in it. Like KBC’s audience polls. Like seriously?

Image 3: Dial testing instruments researchers use to test subjects

Dial testing is how you overcome the negative impact of flawed memory and recall bias by capturing what people think in-the-moment. This is done two ways; with hand-held dials in focus groups and with an on-screen slider in surveys.

As participants watch your content, such as ads, TV shows, presentations, etc., they use in-person dials or an online slider to give continuous, second-by-second feedback. This gives you real-time, gut reactions that you can then use to probe deeper and refine your content.

Image 4: A sample test subject's result of dial testing research

If stupid research is the only choice, then many masterpieces such as The Cadbury Dairy Milk girl dancing on the cricket field and most of the Fevicol work would not have happened because ‘we did not show furniture. The Zoozoos of Vodafone would be aliens on earth.

Chatting with people (Client’s Client), without agenda or assumptions, to know them and their work (or how they engage with your client’s product)

Real research seeks what drives consumers, what motivates them, what captures their imagination, what they want to hear, etc. Understanding what people eat, where they live, how they live, what pleases them, displeases them...that’s research.

Tale 4: How Ogilvy made Zoo-Zoo for Vodafone?

In 2003, Piyush & Team were basking in the glory of the huge success of the Vodafone Pug & the little boy, and that was a danger.

Whatever your profession, whatever the business, extraordinary success cannot be the end of your ambition. You have to cast it aside and target something bigger, something better, more profitable, more impactful.

That was the challenge when the Ogilvy team working on Vodafone for IPL-2 in South Africa.

Changing consumer behavior with an ever-decreasing attention span, it was a herculean task to hold on to their attention for 44 days of IPL.

If Vodafone will show the same ad for 40 days, it will create ad fatigue & may antagonize the brand image. Ogilvy Team comes up with an ingenious plan of 44 different ads, new ads every day.

After the meeting ended, they had no idea what the ads will be. Mr. Rajiv Rao (Current National Creative Direction of Ogilvy) brought a weird-looking white thingy, it wasn't animal, it wasn't human, it was a ZooZoo. Somehow entire Vodafone Team fall in love with the concept and right away started scripting the ads. The team worked the whole night and completed the scripts.

Image 5: Making of Vodafone ZooZoo ad

Image 6: Revealing how Zoo-Zoo actually works

At Day Zero, it was a huge leap of faith as Vodafone tried something completely new. Viewers loved the ZooZoo and the rest is history.

Tale 5: Magic of Music in advertising

Many know the song, some know just the tune & hum along, but even those who are listening for the first time get involved.

Music is a great connector, connecting even to those who are


In the early 80s, jingles repeating the brand name dominates the advertising such as “Nirma, Nirma, Nirma, Nirma, washing powder Nirma”.

Suresh Mullick (Then the boss of Piyush and National Creative Director) hated the idea of the song ‘selling’ a product, he wanted the music to entertain, touch, and involve the listener. Mullick’s reputation elevated when he gave music to Piyush’s “Mile Sure Mera Tumhara” lyrics. The Song features 40+ celebrities. The song became the unofficial anthem of India.

Tale 6: Make your own Real Google

We need to build a community of friends or people around us who possess different talents.

People who we can learn from.

People whose Criticisms are constructive.

People whose Appreciation is genuine.

Find and create an extended family when put together, form a formidable Google that you can turn to. They can provide you answers which no books and the internet can.

When you grow up and form a new connection, add them to your google, interact with them, understand them, share your problems with them.

Help them and, also make them your helper.

Tale 7: Working with a celebrity

When you work with a celebrity, the viewer must find the celebrity, the script, and the idea memorable, not just the celebrity.

Celebrities sometimes just do transactional work, they come on the set at a predefined time, perform and go. For them to think for their role more than a transaction, you need to work on the script and get them excited about it.

Of all the celebrities, Mr. Bachchan has been Piyush's favorite because of his work ethics and his dedication to the task. While shooting an ad for Gujarat Tourism Mr. Bachchan has been so involved that every ad they shoot was very well received, even ones that had average scripts. Mr. Bachchan has no qualm about saying "You are right and I am wrong". All he cares about is a good film. Piyush had a similar experience when Cadbury signed Mr. Bachchan; Mr. Bachchan asked every question in copious details to the MD Mr. Bharat Puri (Current MD of Pidilite).

Mr. Bachchan like many great people believes that

"God is in the details".

Let us quickly summarize the learnings:

Tale 1: How Ogilvy helped BCCI to win the 2016 T20 World Cup?

Be Passionate about your client's work.

Tale 2: Know your Client’s Client (KYCC)

Your client's stakeholders are important. Knowing them is knowing your client.

Tale 3: Ask stupid questions, Get stupid answers

Research is not google forms or focus group discussion. Add a touch of humanity into it.

Tale 4: How Ogilvy made Zoo-Zoo for Vodafone?

Don't be satisfied with your history. Always endeavor to do better than your best work.

Tale 5: Magic of Music in advertising

Music is a way of involving your viewer. Don't impose repetitiveness.

Tale 6: Make your own Real Google

Make connections and use them as your guide. Ask them for help & be their helper.

Tale 7: Working with a celebrity

Celebrity is not enough, you need a solid script and Idea.

Article by: Gunjan Solanki

The author is the founder of Marketing Weekly. He is an Alumnus of IIFT, Kolkata.

He is currently working in Sales & Distribution for Pidilite Industries. He has prior experience in Sales, Marketing, B2B in Vodafone & Trident Group.

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1 Comment

Chirantan Deb
Chirantan Deb
Nov 22, 2020

The reference to the 2016 T20 World Cup is wrong. The bidding creativity and the associated storyline was rather in order to win the 2011 World Cup hosting rights, as mentioned by Piyush Pandey himself in 22 yarns:

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