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Rising Star: Harshik Suraiya, Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather

Suraiya takes us through his journey at Ogilvy, how he made a comeback to the agency after a stint with McCann and now has credit to the globally awarded ‘Beauty Tips by Reshma’ campaign

Harshik Suraiya

A Kozhikode native who shifted base to Mumbai in 2000, Harshik Suraiya is Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather. They shifted base because of his dad’s job. His mother recognised his art skills during his early school days and was convinced that he should join an art school rather than pursuing usual subjects.

“There was one thing that I was good at and that was drawing. A lot of my inspiration came from Disney. Mickey used to be one of my favourite characters in those days,” said Suraiya.

Being from a non-creative background, Suraiya feels that he has inhibited the creative nerve from his mother. His mother has been his strength and more of a role model for him.

It was difficult for Suraiya to cope with Mumbai and its life when they shifted their base. It was never a smooth road. There were a lot of ups and downs. After his schooling, Suraiya joined Model Art institute, Dadar, and learnt few things about art there. He soon joined Raheja School of Arts in Worli and learnt a lot more from that institute. “By then I was used to the artist culture and what an artist can do. I learnt what an illustration is and the other things around it from here. I got my Diploma in Commercial Arts in 2007.”

Like any other graduate, he too didn’t have much idea about advertising. But he always had the hunger to achieve something. He started working at Makani Creatives, a mid-sized agency, towards the end of 2007. Having a crazy nag to do something, Suraiya started making ads proactively on international brands and sending it to the founder of ‘Ads of the world’.

Quite soon, his work was picked and published on the page. This helped him build up more confidence in his work, helping him have an interesting portfolio with work that was done over and above his work curriculum.

In August 2008, Ogilvy & Mather happened to him. Starting then for three years, Suraiya was with Ogilvy. In 2011, he got an opportunity to work with McCannn Erickson, Mumbai. He grabbed the opportunity to work under the guidance of Prasoon Joshi. “I learnt a lot from McCann. Raylin Valles and Anshumani Khanna were my mentors there. They taught me to be fearless and push my limits,” he said.

“Although, I had quit Ogilvy, I was still following the work they did. I have been a big fan of Harshad (Rajadhyaksha) and Kainaz’s (Karmakar) work and was keen on working with them. It was only after my stint in McCann that I realised I was ready to work with them. Sometime in November 2013, Harshad called me saying there is an opportunity for me. I met Harshad and Kainaz over coffee.  And then, in December 2013 my second innings with Ogilvy started,” he narrated.

“At that time, I had to make a choice between Ogilvy, Mumbai, and BBDO Kuwait. I was selected by both the agencies but chose to work with Ogilvy and my dream team,” he continued.

Suraiya has always worked hard to achieve what he has today. In mid-2015, ‘Beauty tips by Reshma’ happened to him. “My copywriter and I were looking to work for acid attack survivors. After a lot of research, we found an NGO ‘Make Love not Scars,’ that was open to our conversation. We spoke to Ria Sharma, the founder, and she agreed to work with us. We spoke to a few production houses to invest time in campaign and all of them did it willingly. Having Reshma on screen was a difficult decision to make as our audience has a completely different take when it comes to a woman’s beauty. But with determination and courage, we kept going and the rest as they say is history.”

That was one of the best piece of work Suraiya has been a part of. The campaign received a lot of accolades last year. Suraiya has also been a part of the second part of campaign for Make Love not Scars – ‘Skills not scars. Given a choice, Suraiya would have loved to work on the ‘Swedish number’ campaign. In the Indian context, he adores what Rajiv Rao has done with Vodafone.

Suraiya has also worked with clients like History TV18, L’Oreal, CNBC Awaaz, Cadburys, Coca Cola, Blue Star water purifiers and Parachute.

He is not an early morning person but like a lot of other people in advertising he doesn’t see the watch when it comes to work. Being a creative person, his weekends are filled with a lot of other activities. Lately, he just shot his first short film. Apart from that, he loves going to the movies and is a diehard Shah Rukh fan. Suraiya also likes making funny illustrations and has a page on Facebook called ‘Trippy Train,’ which is kind of a comic strip where ‘uncle sweet’ spreads some humour, though he hasn’t been able to update the page lately.

The Trippy Train:

Beauty Tips by Reshma:

Skills Not Scars:

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