FORMER CREATIVE CHAIRPERSON
EXECUTIVE CREATIVE ADVISOR
Being a Juror:
Why did you decide to accept the invite to NYF’s Executive Jury?
New York Festivals will always hold a special place in my heart. As a kid stepping into advertising, the NYF World Gold medal was the first International award I won. It made me taste blood, and I wanted more. I loved the creative energy of New York and had the best one year of my life working there. And the festival team working tirelessly behind the scenes is so lovely, how can one not accept this invite?
What are you most looking forward to with this experience?
The most brilliant creative minds, from all over the world, will be sitting in one room and judging the world’s best work together. So, I am looking forward to that intensity and of coming out of that experience, inspired and a tad jealous of some of the ideas that win.
Working in Advertising:
Tell us an experience (or two) that shaped the course of your career.
The one significant work-life experience that shaped my career while I was in India was the fact that I had terrific male mentors throughout my career but no women mentors. I watched with dismay as the large band of women I worked with, in the initial years, slowly dropped out of the industry for various reasons. Many dynamic ladies were heading other departments, but there was a scarcity of female creative leaders that one could turn to for inspiration. I decided then to be the change I wanted to see.
Every time, I am going through a particularly challenging time and feel like I want to quit, I remind myself of this resolve.
What is the most outlandish request you’ve ever gotten at work?
“Can you be less bossy and more lady-like”.
What is an idea you were excited about, but just couldn’t carry out because of logistics?
Oh, we fight that daily battle every day here in Sri Lanka. The budgets are so minuscule that any crazy idea gets killed due to the logistics of economies. But it only makes us work harder, sharper & more disruptive.
The world may have changed since you started in the business. What do you see as the biggest or most impactful change to advertising since you started in the industry? Any predictions of trends for 2019?
By far, the most significant change has been in the way technology, AI, Bots have become the centre of the conversation. For clients, their ROI. While all this is essential, it has also led to a lot of noise and posturing. Brave ideas are often sacrificed over the instant gratification to show off new technology. But I feel confident that the tide will change, and we will go back to the simplicity of ideas & human connection first. Another impactful trend that some brands have already started, and others will follow is that of taking up a social cause to impact societal change.
How is the increase in In-House creative departments affecting the business (or is it)?
I must confess that I have mixed feelings about it. While I understand the need for clients to initiate this, I wonder how it impacts the creative output. Traditionally agencies were the communication experts and often challenged the client’s thinking for the brand. Now, with the creative dept becoming an in-house resource, how will they have the autonomy to question the marketing boss who decides their career progression? And will they be able to give an objective opinion if they are so immersed within the client eco-system? It's a wait-and-watch for me.
How do you find balance (or do you?) between your high-powered job and life/family/outside of-work fun? Any ‘secrets’ you can share?
When you are equally passionate about your work and your family, there is no balance. It is all a crazy intertangled maze of madness. I try and remember to breathe, prioritize and take each day as it comes. It helps to have supportive bosses and spouses at both ends. So always appreciate that if you have them in your life.
Share an ad you are particularly proud of.
My art partner & I entered a worldwide competition, and our idea was chosen to create the first digitally led campaign on Human Rights for the UN in New York. We were invited for the launch of this to the UN by the Human Rights High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, and that was a matter of great pride for us.
Share an ad that changed the way you view the business.
Apple Think Different: It made me believe in the power of ideas that can influence and change the world.
Share your favorite ad that illustrates how advertising can change the world and tell us why you love it.
I love ads that impact societal change. As a mother of a boy, I love this current ad from P&G’s Ariel, questioning us moms- are we teaching our sons what we are teaching our daughters.
I also love Fearless girl. The way it broke away from the traditional mediums of advertising and the powerful message she carries just with her attitude.
What do you look for when hiring new talent?
Hunger. An Opinion.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming creatives when they feel stuck?
Stop taking yourself and your work so seriously. Relax, laugh and get lots of sleep. Make real-life human connections. Not just the online ones.
What kinds of things (positive or negative) did you learn about being a creative leader from people you worked for along the way? Anything you wish your creative leaders had told you?
I was fortunate to have the most amazing bosses throughout my career who taught me generosity, ambition, love for the craft and generally to be a good human being, a team player, a leader who leads from the front and a mentor to those who need it. I hope I can give back as much as I got.
What is the toughest part of your job? Favorite part?
Toughest - staying away from my four-year-old son when I have to travel or work late hours.
Favorite - thinking up ideas for a living and getting paid for it.