Samiksha – Panel Discussion at NITIE

It was a pleasant surprise to receive an invitation from National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Powai. The invite was for a panel discussion on the topic ‘Advertising – Is it all about creativity or strategy?’

Classic conundrum! But fun topic.

The panelists were:

  • Mr. Ravi Banka – CMD – Eggfirst Advertising and Design Pvt Ltd
  • Mr. Raghu Bhat – Founder Director – Scarecrow Communications Ltd
  • Ms. Mansi Trivedi – Associate Planning Director – Saatchi & Saatchi India
  • Mr. Rizwan Khatri – Founder Consultant – Arkay’s Media Solutions
  • Mr. Shashi Sinha – VP – Sales & Marketing – Laqshya Media
  • Mr. Mukesh Anand – Principal Consultant – RK Swamy BBDO
  • Mr. P K Anil Kumar – Senior Creative Director – McCann Erickson
  • Yours Truly

The moderator was Mr. Prasen Agali – VP – Golbal Business Development – Greaves Cotton

I spent almost a week debating within myself if I have to go with the flow or instigate a debate. I guess being in front of students, it is better to start a discussion than be diplomatic or ‘correct’. So I finally decided to get a bit theoretical and stick to the topic in spirit. I made a PPT not because I believe in it, but because it helps me organize my thoughts rather than anything else.

Must admit that I fell in love with the campus. Awesome. Period.

The event started well with regular pleasantries, bouquets et al. Prof. Ashok K. Pundir (Associate Dean) and Prof. B M Ghodeswar (Prof. God as named by Mansi Trivedi) had kind words for the panel, the students and the institute.

Instead of getting to specifics on who spoke what, I would just like to share a few snippets from the event. It may not be exactly possible to share who said what since I wasn’t exactly taking notes, but was focusing on listening and sharing. Wherever possible, I have shared the names too.

  • Raymond’s case study – A very lucid presentation on how strategy and creative worked together to re-create the magic that was the brand in a fairly crowded market and with awesome competition like Vimal, Reid & Taylor etc. Mukesh Anand also entertained the crowd by playing all the TV commercials to loud applause!
  • Ravi had varied examples predominantly in the print & outdoor space on how creativity and strategy go hand-in-hand in making winning communication pieces
  • Rizwan’s presentation argued that creative is more important especially when it comes to special situations (like in categories where the product is short lived). His examples on movies taking the highly creative platform to generate a fan base albeit for a short time, was very entertaining.
  • Anil shared his thoughts extempore. I am pretty sure that his thought on comparing creatives with short skirts went well with the students. There was an uproar of laughter amongst the audience!
  • Shashi Sinha was also extempore. An awesome speaker. His speaking style was fast enough to make it interesting, but slow enough for the students to comprehend, enjoy & savour each word. Lots to learn from the way he spoke. To have thoughts so organized in his mind to speak extempore this way is a great talent. He argued that creativity is the most important piece since the intended message would not reach if it is not creatively said.
  • I had my presentation (which will be shared through slideshare shortly) arguing that it is the strategy which needs to be put in place first and the main point of argument was ‘Great Advertising is more important than Great Advertisement’.
  • Very unfortunate that Mansi & Raghu couldn’t share their presentations owing to lack of time. But they made up well during the discussion!
  • Raghu’s first visiting card (with the address being Coffee Day, Dadar / Barista, Shivaji Park) is etched in my mind forever. I hope I get the balls (pardon the language / slang) someday to take a plunge like that!
  • Raghu quoting his experiences with clients on creative thoughts backed by strategy would certainly be a great learning experience for the kids
  • Mansi’s original thinking is commendable. When the discussion veered towards Digital marketing, she summed up with the thought that every individual working on the brand 9including servicing, media, admin etc) must be aware of the digital platform and the campaign for it to be successful.
  • The question hour (?) had impressive challenges. One question was about conflicts between strategy (planning) & creative. While Rizwan argued about the maturity with which agency professionals handle it, Mansi & I felt that a conflict is necessary for improvements and great ideas to flow.
  • Another question was on NITIE’s brand building efforts. We all were of the view that NITIE is famous enough that all seats are filled and the students get placed before day 3 of placements. Also, every touch point of the alumni is a brand moment of truth. Mansi argued that they need to focus on how they need to harness thought leadership to create a sustained brand for NITIE.

In all, a very enjoyable session. Would love to interact more with the students. It keeps us close to academia, fresh thoughts from students and helps us be on our toes always. Maybe one of these students might rise like fire in the Marketing and advertising world. Arms wide open. Welcome my friends!!!

Thanks are in order to Prof. Ashok K Pundir, Associate Dean (Placement), Prof B M Ghodeswar, Dean Academics, Vijay Baweja & Shruti Sharma who coordinated with me and the many other students whose names are not mentioned here.

Thanks to Mr. Prasen Agali for moderating the panel. Some great questions which initiated further discussions and arguments and hence the learning!

Thanks to all the fellow panelists. Fun engaging with each one of you!

Update: Have added the presentation in slideshare. You can download it from here.

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