‘As Chair­man of Soho Square, I get to set the cul­ture of the com­pany...’

When we meet Su­manto Chat­topad­hyay, newly ap­pointed Chair­man and Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer of Ogilvy & Mather’s sec­ond agency brand Soho Square, he is pre­par­ing to move from his of­fice on the 13th floor of Com­merz In­ter­na­tional Business Park, Gore­gaon - that

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Q] What are your top pri­or­i­ties as Chair­man and Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer of Soho Square? What ex­cites you the most about this role?

For me, Soho Square is an op­por­tu­nity to be truly at the helm of af­fairs. I have been a Cre­ative Di­rec­tor in Ogilvy, and of course I have worked on a large num­ber of busi­nesses across cat­e­gories, but this is a great op­por­tu­nity in a lead­er­ship role. In this role as Chair­man, I am set­ting the vi­sion for the com­pany and I am driv­ing and shap­ing it. That’s re­ally ex­cit­ing, and it’s also a big chal­lenge and re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is more than just the cre­ative func­tion. I am now think­ing about hir­ing peo­ple in other func­tions such as plan­ning or client ser­vic­ing, which is some­thing I have never had to think about ear­lier. Also, as the Chair­man, I get to set the cul­ture of the com­pany. So though I have not com­pleted a month yet, I have writ­ten a doc­u­ment on what the cul­ture of Soho Square is go­ing to be.

Q] What is the new cul­ture of the com­pany go­ing to be?

Well, I have writ­ten it and shared it with my se­nior col­leagues, and got their points of view but I don’t want to talk about it just yet.

Q] How is the merger of Bates with Soho Square play­ing out?

Soho Square and Bates are both strong brand names in their own right. Both have dis­tin­guished them­selves in dif­fer­ent ways in the In­dian ad­ver­tis­ing arena. The two have not merged. They are op­er­at­ing as two units work­ing in tan­dem. And I’m head­ing both. What is ex­cit­ing for me is that this dual port­fo­lio has a sub­stan­tial size and pres­ence across four cities in In­dia. My goal is to nur­ture and grow the port­fo­lio fur­ther, while cre­at­ing greater value for our clients.

Q] What is your com­ment on the kind of young tal­ent en­ter­ing the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try to­day?

This is an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion. One thing which is very dif­fer­ent from the time that I en­tered ad­ver­tis­ing is that to­day, there are far more op­por­tu­ni­ties for young, cre­ative peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, Bol­ly­wood is a big draw. Peo­ple are be­com­ing screen­play writ­ers, di­a­logue writ­ers and lyri­cists in Bol­ly­wood. Then you also have Tele­vi­sion. Ear­lier, ev­ery writer of this va­ri­ety could only look at ad­ver­tis­ing as a job op­por­tu­nity but now there are many other av­enues; that means we have to com­pete for the best tal­ent now. The young per­son to­day wants chal­lenges, and if they don’t find it in an ad­ver­tis­ing agency, they have other op­tions like Tele­vi­sion and movies. Also, ad­ver­tis­ing is no longer just tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing. Young peo­ple can now pur­sue dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing, and there are so many sub-di­vi­sions of that. There is also con­tent writ­ing. There are all kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­ative peo­ple. So as a big ad­ver­tis­ing agency to­day, we have to try harder to at­tract the best young, cre­ative tal­ent.

Q] Could you share with us a story from your ca­reer, some­thing be­hind the scenes from your many ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns that we haven’t heard yet?

There are so many in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. You know, we all watch movies and the vis­ual medium is some­thing that ev­ery lay per­son con­sumes, but I don’t think that every­body un­der­stands what goes into mak­ing this hap­pen, and that can be a chal­lenge. For ex­am­ple - I won’t men­tion the brand - I was do­ing an ad film and it was dur­ing the mon­soon, and we had to shoot in Mum­bai. We were try­ing to get a bud­get to shoot some­where else but that wasn’t pos­si­ble. So, we told the client that this is go­ing to be dif­fi­cult, and the ad film in­volved show­ing a girl on a bike in the mid­dle of a lot of traf­fic. But, ob­vi­ously if it

was go­ing to rain, it would be dif­fi­cult to shoot that scene, and we couldn’t show rain in that par­tic­u­lar shot. Though we checked with the Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment and the Navy and were told that we would get at least a cou­ple of hours of dry weather, it started rain­ing. Fi­nally, we put a huge plas­tic sheet above the girl on the bike, and a few cars around her. But, we could not get a large panoramic shot be­cause the plas­tic sheet was small, and we couldn’t show the road full of traf­fic be­cause the rain would have been vis­i­ble. So, we had a more lim­ited area in our frame. When we pre­sented the film to the client, he said, “You were sup­posed to get a wide shot of a road with lots of cars”. We replied, “Re­mem­ber, we said if it rains, then there is noth­ing we can do?” He then told us to get the traf­fic from an­other film and just put it into this one! We re­ally had no re­sponse to that. Peo­ple be­lieve tech­nol­ogy has ad­vanced so much in video and films that any­thing is pos­si­ble. The kind of re­quests we get from clients are some­times re­ally strange.

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