Ogilvy’s Pandey Urges Cultural Sensitivity

SAN FRANCISCO Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director of Ogilvy & Mather in Bombay, India, today urged creatives to take cultural differences into account when crafting ads for other countries in his international keynote address at the Adweek Creative Seminar.

“East is East and West is West. Only the brands are the same,” Pandey said.

Using examples of commercials from India and Asia, Pandey described how Western brands can make it in those markets if they use local insights to guide their advertising. He showed a Kodak spot that incorporated an Indian tradition of a groom walking to a bride’s house as an example of a brand that has done this.

“You have to be sensitive to audiences around the world,” he said. “We are about the consumer at the end of the day. You can’t sit in New York and decide what’s going to run in New Dehli. Only the new is the same.”

Next, Pandey showed Indian ads that use local insights to tap into the consumers mind-set. For example, the Times of India recently aired a TV campaign called “A day in the life of India” that showed some local customs taking place as if you were watching them on a video fast forward. In one ad, an arch is erected and taken down when an important official comes to town. In a second execution, workers continually tear up a road to improve it and then pave it over again.

Pandey then gave examples of local brands that use universal insights from the products themselves that everyone can appreciate.

He showed the popular Soken DVD spots that won a gold Lion at Cannes this year. The ads show people describing a DVD they watched last night in the style of a DVD, with the images skipping and freezing as people talk. (One woman trying to say she watched the movie Titanic gets stuck on “Ti-ti-ti-ti.”) The tagline is “Plays smoothly.”