Please tell us about yourself

Shagun Seda, Creative Director at DDB Mudra West narrates her enthralling story in the creative ad-mad world

After receiving a brief from the client, the creative department huddles up for days to determine what kind of advertisement would work best for their target audience. They play a crucial role in determining what the advertisement would look like when it hits the market. This department includes art directors, creative directors, copywriters, scriptwriters, visualisers, photographers, typographers and so on. They create and communicate ideas to the consumers. This department is responsible for visualising and verbalising the needs of the client. They are the ones with a flair for writing, a creative bent of mind and artistic creativity.

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What has your journey been like? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

I wanted to write ads since I was a little girl who sat glued to the TV just for the ad breaks during the good old days of Doordarshan and DD Metro. I know, bizarre.I started in 2003 with an internship at Lowe. In 2004 I appeared for my first advertising interview. I was asked to describe myself in one word and I said, “I’m a humanist”. With an answer like that, I really don’t know how I got into advertising. The agency was TBWA\ where I grew from resident plankton to Creative Director, and then joined DDB Mudra in 2013.

I did my graduation in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, my postgraduation from The Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Pune. My foray into advertising started with a short but immensely illuminating internship at Lowe. Soon, I joined TBWAIndia (then Anthem) as a trainee copywriter, and learned and lived there for nine and a half years. TBWA saw me grow from a trainee to a creative director. And then it was time to leave the proverbial nest. I joined DDB Mudra West a year and a half ago and it’s been great so far.

Three things you love about your work?

* Getting paid to do what I love.
* Creating work that will (hopefully) outlast my existence.
* Not having to wear a uniform.

What are the perks of your work profile?

My current work profile according to my business card says Creative Director, DDB Mudra West. But I still am and will always be a copywriter at heart. The only difference is, when you are a copywriter, everyone thinks it’s their right to walk up to your desk and disturb you while you’re thinking. When you become CD, they first knock on your cabin door before disturbing you.

And the challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is time. Anybody can crack a superlative idea after days spent thinking over endless cups of coffee and in between naps. An increasingly competitive business environment has resulted in client pressure and want-it-yesterday deadlines.

Tell us about a campaign that you were part of?

The play school activity of stretching words to make a child read better has been employed by Nissan. The Japanese automobile manufacturer that launched the new sedan Sunny in India, is calling its new offering a ‘Caaaar’, not a car. Stretching the word ‘car’ is to help the audience read the underlined message — a car that is ‘Stretched in size, stuffed with features’.

The TVC begins with a woman enquiring about her ‘Caaaar’ keys as she is steps out of her house. It proceeds from a man at the restaurant to the man standing in the elevator — both, proud owners of the ‘Caaaar’. The TVC also features short snippets of the vehicle in between the three stories. It concludes with a direct communication about why the new Nissan Sunny is a ‘Caaaar’, and not just a car.

Dinesh Jain, chief executive officer, Hover Automotive India (Nissan sales and marketing — India), says that the aim was to convey the message through humour, but without trivialising it. Jain tells afaqs!, “Through this campaign, we wanted to touch people’s emotions without conveying the technical aspects of the car.”

It is a 360 degree campaign that uses TV, print, outdoor, and below the line activities to spread awareness about the new offering by Nissan. “But, the campaign is slightly skewed towards television,” confesses Jain.

Nirmalya Sen, managing director, TBWA India, tells afaqs! about how the concept of stretching the word car came into being. “The brief that we got was that the car belongs to segment C, but in terms of features and its sheer size, it looks as if it belongs to C+ segment. We wanted to communicate this creatively to the audience,” says Sen.

Rahul Sengupta, national creative director, TBWA India, says that the creative team first drove the car to experience features that the client spoke of. Mentioning the leg space and the boot space, Sengupta declares, “The car raises expectations, and this message is translated in the communication.”

Shagun Seda is the copywriter for the campaign. 

What are the skills one must have for the job?

There are no specific skills. As long as you can think clearly and communicate succinctly, you’re home. All you need then is an inquisitive mind, an observing eye, fire in the belly, creative rigour and stamina. Also, a good digestive system to stomach rejection!

Advice for budding advertisers?

Be there, do that, watch this and read that. You are a sum of your experiences. It also holds true for the work you create. The richer the input, the more superior the output.

what do you think is the future of advertising in india?

Despite our vast socio-cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, our advertising has always had its pinkie on the pulse of a changing India. The penny-pinching Lalita-ji has evolved into a tough-talking boss-wife who doesn’t think twice before asking her husband to work late. The 30-second TV spot co-exists with its four-minute Internet edit. Today, TV cannot be the only answer to every marketing problem. Brands are increasingly harnessing the power of the Internet to tell their story. But this is just the beginning. We have a long way to go.

Your favourite creative campaign?

Apart from the Nescafe ‘Stammering Standup Comedian’ and Kit Kat #MyDiwaliBreak commercials, I can’t think of any recent Indian campaign that moved me enough to talk about it.