RAJIV RAO, NATIONAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT OGILVY & MATHER INDIA
Ask any person in India, young or old, about “Zoozoos” and their faces will burst into a smile of recognition. Zoozoo is a character created by Rajiv Rao for Vodafone, loved by everyone and, today, the brand’s mascot. Rajiv joined Ogilvy & Mather in 1999 and, in ten years, he took on the role of National Creative Director. Over those years, he created advertising that cut across various languages, cultures and demographics of a diverse country like India. He believes in work that’s simple and effortless.
Having studied applied arts, how important is for you, as a creative, to be aware of the actual process of production of a commercial?
Studying Applied Arts kind of prepares you for everything that involves a creative process. I never knew that five years of paint stained clothes, sketching portraits of random strangers on the streets of Bombay, and staying up all night to finish some art assignment would ever help me in something as unrelated as a TV commercial. But believe me it does in some way.
Your most famous works are the ones you did for Vodafone, with the Zoozoos and the pug. How important was craft for the accomplishment of those ideas?
Both the Pug campaign and the Zoozoo Campaign are simple ideas, but at the same time craft plays a very important role in make the ideas come alive. The pug campaign was just a film about a dog following the boy, but what made it so beautiful was how it was shot, the choice of the dog, the song, all this made the film magical. The Zoozoo campaign started with the creation of a new character. We created a new world for these characters. Again, craft played a huge role in this campaign.
What are, in your opinion, the main strengths and weaknesses of advertising in India, specially regarding craft and production matters?
Indians are very emotional and that’s what Indian advertising understands really well. It does a great job at tugging the hearts of the consumer. Indian advertising knows the art of story telling. On the other hand, what Indian advertising does wrong is when it’s trying to ape the west. It’s not really us. It’s not Indian and that’s when the advertising stops connecting with everyone.
What is your favorite ad ever? Why?
It’s really difficult to pick one. But here are a few that come to the top of my mind randomly. Color like no other, by Sony Bravia. A refreshing, brave idea. Something that never looked like an ad film. It was poetry all the way. Cog, by Honda. Absolutely mindblowing. How do you make car parts look so gorgeous and a joy to watch every single time. This film did all that and more. A work of art. Gorilla by Cadbury. Brilliantly crafted, insane, humorous in a weird way and a pleasure to watch every single time.
Is there something you hate (or don’t like) about advertising?
One thing I hate about advertising is that everything is wanted for yesterday. There is never enough time and you have to think and work around that time. I always I wish I had one more day to make the ad better.
After being in business for many years, what is it about advertising that keeps attracting you?
Thinking of crazy ideas is part of your job. Isn’t that a good reason to stick to advertising?