10 minutes with Santosh Padhi

Santosh Padhi.jpgCampaign Brief Asia sits down with a prominent creative talent from our region and gets to know them better. This week in this regular "10 Minutes With" column is Santosh Padhi, Co-founder and Co Executive Creative Director of Taproot India.

What did you do before getting into advertising?
I did my B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Art) from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai.

How did you first get into advertising as a career?
When I was still in Art college, I went to Mudra Communications (DDB affiliated) which was close to my college, for their professional guidance in my final year. That's where I was spotted, thanks to Lata Vasudevan (a then writer at Mudra) who recommended me to higher creative authority. Soon after, I was there as a trainee visualizer.
Who gave you your first big break?
Nalesh Patil, a rocking CD at Mudra, Mumbai. Was the guy who hired me, I worked with him for a year and a half. After he left, it was Ramesh Ravindranath, who became the Creative head of Mumbai. I got to work very closely with him on a couple of projects despite the huge difference in designation. I was never made to feel different. Most importantly, he taught me the right mix of creativity in advertising.

What is your career highlight to date?
Pretty much the whole of 2009! I managed to pull off the task of making Leo Burnett India, the number one creative agency in India with two Grand Prix awards in print and outdoor, apart from winning metals in every award show. We won 6 metals at Cannes, out of which two were in the form of gold. We won the first ever Cyber Lion in India, and I was also ranked the third best art director in the world by Campaign, UK. And at the end of the year I decided to start my own thing with Agnello Dias. It's called "Taproot India".


Your two best ads/campaigns that you have been involved with?

Undoubtedly - P&G Tide detergent campaign, which had TV, print, direct, outdoor and digital as well. We came up with a great proposition in the first place, which was, 'Put stains back where they belong.' I'm happy about this campaign because this is one of the toughest categories to produce fresh creative work. The print campaign was in the form of a magazine spread where the stains were glued to the objects producing them with temporary glue. So on separating the stuck pages in the magazine, one experienced the stain being transferred from the garment back to the ketchup, ice cream or lipstick! The TV showed a husband (with a pink stain on his shirt) being dragged by his wife to his girlfriend's house where she forces his shirt on her lips, only to see the lipstick gone back on to her lips and the shirt is super white again! The same simple device was adapted lovingly on other mediums as well.
Second - Luxor Highlighter for sure. For it is one campaign where the basic category benefit idea was owned by Luxor Highlighter by doing a 360 degree campaign on 'Highlight what's important', right from print to outdoor to digital to designing of identity, packaging etc, where the medium was used to its max to get the idea upfront in a very simple, charming and engaging way. The other things part of this campaign were - a newspaper front page with important news bits highlighted; the same thing in digital as well on a few news sites, and another digital innovation involving certain parts of the text on the site getting highlighted along with a Luxor product pop-up when selected on text.
6944_TIDE_soysauce_sm.jpgZimbabwean.jpgIs there an ad that makes you green with envy?
Quite a few, actually. It has to be the Tide 'Stains have no chance' campaign which won a Cannes Grand Prix two years ago. If I had to give a Grand Prix among all the Cannes Grand Prix in print of the past decade, Tide would be far ahead of the rest. Because as I mentioned earlier, this is one of the toughest categories to come up with ideas like this.
Then, the Zimbabwean currency notes being used as a medium to convey a message was awesome! Again, The Great Schlep from Droga5 was phenomenal. The problem was spotted and the message was narrowed down and focused to communicate to the senior Jewish living in America in a very emotional way. I see green.

Do you have a 'worst mistake' or a most embarrassing moment in your advertising career to date?
The worst one has to be my first day in Leo Burnett when I barged into the women's loo! (How I wish there was someone in there). I really felt bad when I saw an ash tray with lipstick marks, cigarette butts and some stilettos sound outside the room. I literally shat!

Is there a person you have enjoyed working with the most? (Not someone you currently work with)
Amol Jadhav, an amazing person & photographer. I meet him four years ago, and we had clicked with each other instantly. The last few years we have been working very closely on some very good projects. I like him because he is very hard working, experimental, dedicated, never satisfied and very down to earth. Also, the bloke hardly speaks (which is a rarity in advertising). Yes, he lets his work do the talking. He is a very different animal when he is on the sets.

Who is the most interesting, or most inspiring, or funniest person you have ever met or worked with?
This one goes to Bhagwan Dagre - a studio Manager in Leo Burnett, India now. 'Bhagwan' in India means God. And typically, most Indian Gods have many limbs and heads, indicative of multitasking. Trust me, this guy keeps up to it. He started out as a basic computer operator and is today the creative studio manager, librarian and an in-house photographer, he also takes care of LB's seven plus submission every quarter, award entry. Besides, he also takes care of big, pitches, presentations and many things. What works in his favour is, once you've aligned him some job, be rest assured it will be done.

What's your favourite leisure activity/hobbies outside of advertising?
Since the past few years, I have been ideating on my painting themes, styles, and techniques. It makes me feel happy that someday I will get there. I spend a lot of time collecting old stuff.

Favourite holiday destination?
Goa! It's the closest from Mumbai and drinking is a ritual there. So it's the just the place for creative guys.

Favourite hotel?
Yet to be found. See that's' the problem with art guys...it's difficult to find them something that'll have them coming back.
Tell me something about yourself that not many people would know.
I almost left Art College at the end of my second year of college to get into Navy. My dad was in the Army and so I was always passionate about defense.

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Elcorin said:

Hi, Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.

Raghav said:

Grt going Padhi, hope you remember me, yes its you use to call me rooogaaa!

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