Awards are the real dipsticks: Leo Burnett's Rajdeepak Das

Having bagged the title of “Creative Agency of the Year” at The Abby One Show Awards for two consecutive years, Leo Burnett's CEO and CCO Rajdeepak Das and NCD Vikram Pandey share their view on the agency's big win at Goafest, importance of awards, removal of the typical cabin structure and more

Shreya Negi
New Update
Awards are the real dipsticks: Leo Burnett's Rajdeepak Das

(Left) Rajdeepak Das and Vikram Pandey (Right)

For two straight years in a row, Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett has won the title of “Creative Agency of the Year” at The Abby One Show Awards which takes place during the Goafest. This time around, it topped the charts with 122 points and brought home 5 Gold, 9 Silver, 4 Bronze and 6 Merit awards.

Commenting on the win, Rajdeepak Das, CEO and CCO, Leo Burnett (South Asia, India) and Chairman, Publicis Groupe (South Asia), stated that when one is constantly putting their heads down to really build a creative culture the individual often forgets what’s happening and keeps running without realising that the destination has already arrived and that’s precisely what has happened with the agency in the past few years.

“When we entered last year, we knew that there were one-two pieces which were good but we didn’t know that we would go on to win the Agency of the Year. This year what happened, as a result of creating and having a massive creative structure, the amount of good work that came out was predominantly amazing and all three- Whisper’s The Missing Chapter, Airtel 175 Replay and Oreo’s #BringBack2011 won a Grand Prix each,” he said.

Das also went on to add that having bagged three Grand Prix this year, it almost feels like “showing a mirror to themselves” and “doing something right” without getting ahead of themselves in the actual sense because having work and people at the centre of the agency is what Leo Burnett does.

Vikram Pandey (Spiky), National Creative Director, Leo Burnett India, also said, “It’s great to get awards and recognition all across, but intentionally, we are all about what’s the next cool thing that we can do for our clients because we’re far from the finish line and that’s where the focus is. There’s a lot that we want to do and we’re super hungry for both landing and working on clients which we always dreamt of working with and the intent is to do absolutely epic work on all of those.”

Sharing his views on the importance of awards for the agency, Das mentioned that awards allow one to benchmark and find for one’s own self whether the work that is coming out of the agency is actually good, because everyone thinks that their work is great but awards are the real dipstick that tells one where they actually stand.

“The three campaigns that won the two Grand Prix in The Abby One Show Awards have also been awarded at The D&AD, Spikes, The One Show, and one of them even in Cannes Lions, this is testament to the great creative work that Leo Burnett has been doing over the years,” he added.

Commenting as to where he sees the agency headed towards in the next couple of years since Leo Burnett has been winning big accolades in the past two years, Das stated that there are two things that he has in mind for the agency- Growth and Glory. As per him if there’s growth, one can get great people and experiment incrementally to create great work which further bolsters one to great glory that helps one land great clients and talent.

On the other hand, Spiky, who was also a part of the jury for the Digital Abby this year, pointed out that the guidance that the jury chairs have given in terms of what kind of work should win and why, has really helped in channelising the thinking and understanding the standard of the work that is being awarded.

“The kind of conversation that the jury members have, at least in the jury process of which I was a part, was very interesting because we were not citing local examples but international ones and that’s really upped the ante for The Abbys as well in the aftermath of The One Show coming on board for the coveted awards,” he stated.

Throwing light on the redundancy of the hierarchy structure, a topic which was fuelled by the removal of the cabins in the Leo Burnett Office, Das shared the viewpoint that because the agency is as good as its last piece of work, therefore, there is a need for an open culture wherein people can talk and ideate together to make ideas better instead of sitting inside the age-old cabin system because constructive criticism happens only when there is no hierarchy and only then can an idea actually come from anywhere, irrespective of the age and designation.

Spiky also emphasised that the going away of the cabin structures has also enabled the agency professionals to touch a lot more work than usual - because in a cabin, one only gets to see the work that’s coming from one door, but when one is out in the open, he/she eventually ends up seeing a lot more work and by that virtue, the work gets more collaborative and better and adds to Leo Burnett’s philosophy of being more about doers and not managers.

“Gone are the days when too many cooks spoiled the broth, today it’s all about the coming together of a lot of people to actually make it happen because more and more fingerprints on a certain piece of work only make it better,” Das added.

He also went on to point out that the one thing that the agency really focuses on while coming up with creative pieces is whether the piece of work is or isn’t a Burnett kind of work- the one where a change is actually being brought about in the world of advertising and communications. 

Spiky added, “Our kind of work is where we challenge atleast one of the many pillars or norms of advertising in the way we use special effects, animation, technology, communication, storytelling, celebrity usage, etc.”

On a concluding note, Das shared the viewpoint that what Leo Burnett is trying to do is redefine the future and it may have taken them time (approximately 4-5 years) but now the agency has built the work that they can actually talk about and that it is just the beginning.

Leo Burnett Vikram Pandey creative agency Awards Rajdeepak Das organisational hierarchy The Abby One Show Awards collaborative work pillars of advertising great work creative structure