The Homecoming Of Jaideep Mahajan At Rediffusion Y&R As National Creative Head

Jaideep Mahajan who recently moved from Linen Lintas to Rediffusion Y&R; As National Creative Head talks about his move, role at the agency and challenges ahead

The first quarter of 2015 saw many brands roll out their long format ad films, after the trend of long format digital storytelling caught on in 2014. The 30-second TVC gave way to 2 to 7 minute long videos that helped build the brand image one story at a time. Brands ranging from insurance, FMCG and online service providers/marketplaces chose to go long format in their digital campaigns.

One such video that won awards and stood out for its creative brilliance was from hair care brand, Dabur Vatika. Titled ‘Brave and Beautiful’, the film paid a tribute to woman cancer survivors by featuring the story of a young mother reclaiming her regular life post surviving cancer. The agency behind the creative brilliance was Linen Lintas and the brain leading the project was Jaideep Mahajan.

With over 17 years of industry experience as a creative brain, Jaideep has always worked in large agencies and networks. “The first 10 were non-threatening because there was a sense of predictability. In the last 7 years, technology claimed our lives and changed it forever. Today, from buying groceries to finding a partner to selling household junk, there’s digital involved. That’s a huge shift in our lives.”

In terms of advertising, he adds that the industry started embracing Indian-ness in advertising back in those days and made it contextual. “Today, you see even young tech brands like Google and iPhone 6 weaving Indian stories to capture their audience. I find this very fascinating. We’ve matured as an industry and produce some of the finest crafted pieces of communication.”

Recollecting his early days at Linen Lintas, he adds that the agency made him feel like an entrepreneur. “When I interviewed at Linen, they gave me a challenge - to build that place from ground zero. Of course, the network would support but that meant that we would have to build every inch of that place piece by piece. I took up the challenge even though a lot of people thought this was professional suicide. We focused on building an agile team with no role definition. Each person in the team practically did everything. Our vision was to be known and noticed for our work and I think we were successful in doing so.”

However after being closely associated with Lintas for more than three years, last month Jaideep moved back to Rediffusion Y&R as National Creative Head, marking his return to the advertising agency for the third time. He had earlier worked with the agency in 2008-2010 and 2012-2013 as creative head and national head (art) and executive creative director respectively.

“It does feel like a strong bond, this is the third time our paths have crossed. I wonder if there’s a play of destiny here. What motivated me to be back here was the opportunity to play at a national level. Also, people like Rahul and Dhunji who are great colleagues and grounded individuals felt like the right team to be working with.”

In his present role Jaideep will work closely with Rediffusion’s chief creative officer Rahul Jauhari and oversee the creative product of Everest Delhi. “My first and foremost agenda is to bring the Rediff Delhi office to a good place. We’ve been actively pitching and talking to our existing clients to ensure things are smooth. Overall, my role will be at a group level where I’ll be looking at work from other Rediffusion offices and Everest Brand Solution.”

The first half of 2015 has seen a major restructuring at Rediffusion Y&R, the Arun Nanda and WPP-owned creative agency. Earlier in the month of May, for the first time since its inception in 1973, it created the role of a chief creative officer (CCO) for the group. Rahul Jauhari, national creative director at Rediffusion Y&R group agency Everest Brand Solutions, was named to the new position.

Interestingly Rahul was also associated with the agency in 2000. “Rediffusion Y&R and Everest are two distinct brands with individual personalities. We want singularity of thought to continue the distinctive identities. That’s why we have created this new road for one CCO (chief creative officer),” said Dhunji Wadia, president of Rediffusion Y&R India.

Later Jaideep moved back to the agency as NCD and very recently Navonil Chatterjee, vice-president and executive director, planning, JWT, joined Rediffusion Y&R as chief strategy officer (CSO). “In a way, I started the return to the group movement when I rejoined in 2010. Rahul Jauhari followed next. And now it is JD. He has a proven reputation as a creative leader and is held in great regard both internally and among his clients,” added Dhunji.

Talking about the challenges for today’s NCDs in this digital led world, Jaideep adds that we are still missing the big picture. “In my opinion, digital is not limited to mobile and viral videos on web although that does form the crux. Digital empowers you in a way that any surface can become a medium, anything can be made interactive. As a creative person, irrespective of your role, you have to be able to think seamlessly and not get lost in the technical specifics. Coming from traditional agencies, we might take sometime getting there but there’s no other way to stay in the game.”

Digital has definitely changed the entire landscape and challenged creative folks to reinvent themselves. “There are many more formats and media channels now and each one has the customer in a certain frame of mind. The advertising challenge is to work it’s way through to get the customer to interact with the brand.”

However, he does admit that traditional agencies haven’t taken up digital in a big way but that should be an obvious next step.