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Time to nurture, recognise and hang on to present talent, says Piyush Pandey at Cannes Lions Live

The CCO of Ogilvy Worldwide and Executive Chairman of India said it is important to fill courage in employees and empathise with them during such tough times. The advertising industry's most significant resource is its people that agencies should hold on to and make sure their talents stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to work

On the second day of the Lions Live week, Piyush Pandey, CCO, Ogilvy Worldwide, spoke with WPP TV Producer Lizzy Dale about how clients responded to the global pandemic, key trends that have come out of APAC and some reasons to be optimistic about the future.

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The good aspect of the pandemic is that we are learning to be good human beings, says Pandey. He said the pandemic brought troubles of all kinds to people, but they need to stay sturdy without losing any hope.

"At Ogilvy, we have tried to lessen the pandemic restrictions in the same way as WPP is doing. We are talking to each other, both to our clients and employees," said Pandey.

He said there is nothing better than talking to each other, support each other, give courage and empathise with each other. "People who work with me are doing it to their juniors, and I see a fantastic fight that's on where people are fighting with hope," Pandey said.

This is not the time to make initiatives to look for talents but to nurture, recognise and hang on to the present ones, says Pandey. "The advertising industry's biggest resource is its human beings, which agencies should hold on to and make sure that their talents stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to working."

He said restrictions can be a part of the mind rather than the physical limitation.

"I feel restricted to my home, but I have not felt restricted in terms of challenge, the challenge to think, create in the hard times and face the crisis as we go ahead," he said.

How the pandemic affected clients in India

Pandey said the pandemic triggered lockdowns and most of the clients' businesses were shut. "Lots of our clients had a problem with transporting goods. Everyone is getting tested in moments like these, but clients have stood in the test of time, they have tried to get their businesses going."

He talked about one of their clients, Asian Paints, which gave increments to its employees in the crisis.

"These are very experienced businessmen with whom we deal. They are good human beings who know they are not working for the quarter to quarter but for annual results," Pandey said.

Pandey said the most significant change that has happened to the market is that people have started talking to consumers; people like us have started talking to the clients more often than ever.

"We have become less transactional and more human in our approach," said Pandey.

Ogilvy is reaching out to people and trying to understand their difficulties instead and not burdening them with other ones.

"I find their life is regular and adversity is a good teacher. The person whose image portrayed as a tough client has now changed to a nice human being as the connection and communication has got better," Pandey said.

WPP and Ogilvy have always been supportive of its people, and any other agency should follow this initiative.

The agency has done some beautiful campaigns for the government of India. 

They launched a campaign named 'Mask Force' featuring Indian cricketers who urged people to wear masks.

Another campaign was 'Setu My Bodyguard' for the Aarogya Setu app launched by the government of India to detect coronavirus cases.

"We did a campaign named ‘story of hope’ seen through the drawings made by children, who see a beautiful pre-Covid world tomorrow morning," said Pandey.

It says everything is not transactional and one has a duty as a citizen, and they must chip in wherever they can.

How are WPP and you helping India in this crisis?

He said they contributed to the PM fund. However, much that is required to be done physically is not done right now because of the restrictions.

"I am sure a company with this kind of power to communicate will step out and try to help people the moment we are allowed to do," said Pandey. He said the agency and its people are showing their support to people who are having a rough time in every possible way they can, particularly with the pen as that's the most powerful thing it has.

Speaking on personal learning in the lockdown, Pandey said, "Don't take life for granted. Everything is not going to be the same and so you don't have to play scared in tough times."

He said one should take every day as it comes but plan for the rainy days.

"Today if Ogilvy and WPP can hang in there, it's because of the prudent planning for days like these," Pandey said.

According to Pandey, the company's shareholders have trusted and supported a lot in the last few months.

"People should be optimist, fit and focused. We are going to win this," Pandey said.

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