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Interview: Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD

“Indian advertising and creative community is fantastic! I have huge respect for them. It's a shame that they are marred by scams and such…I feel the work done here is as good as the work done anywhere else in the world”

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | April 28, 2014

Tim Lindsay Tim Lindsay

Among the most revered awards in advertising, The Yellow Pencil organised by D&AD (London) has a rigorous judging process that sets it apart from any other awards. D&AD has always been more than just awards. The inspiring community of creative thinkers celebrate and encourage the finest in design and advertising.

The management at D&AD wants to replicate the same benchmarks here in India for which they have teamed up with Kyoorius to launch the Kyoorius Advertising Awards this year. Sohini Sen caught up with Tim Lindsay, CEO, D&AD, who was in India recently for a quick tete-a-tete. Excerpts:

How do you think advertising has changed with the growth of the digital media?

It's something you cannot ignore any more. It is a completely different thing now. But it is different in terms of technology and channels. Some of the basic principles have to be copied across from the old space to the new space. Engaging with people, speaking to them, trying to get them involved – all those things were true even before the digital wave, and they are true even now. But I think the thing that has changed is the old interrupted model which is no longer true. People do not have to wait endlessly after sending out the message. And it has become a much more subtle art and advertisers can actually talk to people as opposed to just sell stuff to them.

There are many forms of interaction between the traditional and the digital even now. A customer’s journey can now start online and end offline, or the opposite. It's the art of managing the customers as the method becomes more complicated.

Where do you think India stands in the global creativity stage?

Indian advertising and creative community is fantastic! I have huge respect for them. It's a shame that they are marred by scams and such. But I can understand that the community is very conservative and agencies cannot always bring out their creative best keeping that in mind. I think scam isn't really advertising, it is just… something else. At the same time, I feel the work done here is as good as the work done anywhere else in the world. I'm thinking of Lowe's Aids Awareness campaign from 10 years ago, or I am thinking of Lifebuoy's new social campaigns, etc.

What do you think is going right or wrong with Indian ad agencies right now?

I cannot really comment on that. I can make a general comment which is that I think agencies are going through some heavy change. Network agencies are having to reinvent themselves – young stars, national focus, all that is happening. They have to renew this moment, and the intense pressure on everyone will engineer real skills. These are skills that big agencies have always had, which is to give management great planning and research. Technology has to be integrated into that. I think some of the bigger agencies in India are starting to do that.

Could you explain the New Blood Programme?

The New Blood Programme exists in the UK at the moment. The programme basically lets us reach the teachers in arts universities. They then send the student's work that go into our student award ceremony. The winners then go on to the New Blood Academy where the students get exposure to the industry, learn what they need to know when they go for internships and trainings, etc. They are pretty much guaranteed a place for an internship.

We also have an expo where universities take stalls to display their best work to the industry. I think it's about 120 stalls this year, some from outside the UK as well.

You plan to bring the global standards of D&AD to India. How do you plan to do that?

Well, by consulting with Kyoorius actually. It's their awards in partnership with us. Our contribution is our expertise really. We are really good at running an awards show, our digital entry system is the best in the world, we know how to go about the jury selection and the judging process. It's our expertise that we are bringing to India.

Globally also we follow the same quality measures. We check for scam ads. Is it a proper client, a proper brand, did it run? A whole lot of stuff is in the grey area, but we do keep our eyes and ears open so to say.

How do you plan to merge the designing and advertising community in the years to come?

With the advent of digital there is already a blurred line between advertising and design. Many designers work in advertising as art directors. But design and technology are making big inroads in terms of what was called traditional advertising. There will always be people who will think in terms of design and people who will think in terms of advertising. But they are mutually supported and in the end there is the client, creativity and commercial system.


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