Prasoon Pandey and Piyush Pandey, the brother duo are the makers of India’s most iconic ad playlist. They are best known for the commercials made for adhesive company Pidilite, among other consumer brands in the country. The duo was the first Asians to pick up the Lion of St. Mark, an award for a lifetime of services to creativity in communications, at Cannes Lions 2018.
As Pandey is stepping into an advisory role and giving up his position as executive chairman of Ogilvy India, Storyboard18 caught up with his brother, to understand what makes Piyush Pandey an incredible brother, leader, and human being.
Did you get into advertising because of Piyush?
Piyush got into advertising when I was at the National Institute of Design (NID). When I was in my third year I wasn’t sure what I wanted to take up as a career. I used to hear him talk about the work he was doing and that made me inquisitive. I remember Piyush was working on a Sunlight ad campaign and he asked me if I had any ideas. That made me super excited about this industry. It was a turning point for me. So, yes, you can say in a way he is responsible for why I am in the business.
Which was the first campaign that the both of you jammed together?
It was ‘One Black Coffee Please’ ad for Ericsson (This commercial got India its first Cannes Lion, in 1996). What makes it special is that it was not for Ogilvy but for Enterprise. Rajiv Agarwal, who was the managing director of Enterprise Nexus then, called me and shared some ideas. I wasn’t too happy with those, and decided to write the script. Piyush and I were at my mother’s place. We weren’t allowed to drink at home. Often we would go out to a friend’s hotel nearby called Narayan Niwas. The both of us jammed on various ideas in the middle of the day over beers. ‘One Black Coffee Please’ was one such piece of work where the two of us intensely discussed and the idea got its green shoots. It is a great indication of the kind of man he is. He believes creativity is one universe and agencies are different branches coming out of it. If there is a good creative exercise he always wants to help.
Your favourite campaign with Piyush?
The SBI Life ad, it will always be special because it was inspired by a real-life incident. Both of us were visiting my mother for her birthday. We got her a pair of earrings. She was overwhelmed and said it was not her age to wear diamonds. That’s when Piyush said, ‘heere ko kya patha teri umar’. Piyush’s work is exactly like his personality. Everyone talks about how he has an incredible mind, but I often tell people what an incredible heart he has. He thrives on relationships. A lot of his work is about the joy of being together.
What according to you makes Piyush’s innings in advertising the best in the country?
The kind of human being he is sets him apart. We all know that he is brilliant with his ideas, what makes him special is he values the relationships he builds, and that reflects in the teams he leads. He not only protects them, he nurtures them and takes care of them.
What’s the best advice that Piyush has given you as a brother and as someone who he has worked closely with over the years?
He always tells me, think from your heart, don’t chase money. If you do something from your heart, money will anyway follow. He has also told me don’t say no to a job if you think you will not be able to make time for it and make a 100 on 100 on it. It’s about building relationships and trust. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar will always be remembered for his centuries but he has also made great 60s and 70s.
What impresses you about Ogilvy’s current leadership team?
They have been in the business for a really long time. Piyush has always maintained that if these guys weren’t brilliant they wouldn’t be here. He says the problem of being the face of Ogilvy is that people often think all great work done by the agency is done by him, and that’s not true at all. He always acknowledges and gives due credit to his team.