Exclusive Interview: Priti Nair, Curry Nation

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Curry-Nation started in January 2011 with a vision to fulfill and proudly display the dynamics of a country that stands shoulder to logoshoulder with the rest of the world today. To showcase how different and interesting and multidimensional we are from the rest of the world. And the need for that difference to be acknowledged and respected.

It has been a long journey since then for Priti Nair and Nagesh Pannaswami, building a media agency from ground up is no mean feat and it was definitely not easy. With campaigns like 18 again, Rasna, Nirlep they have reached our homes and carved a niche for themselves.

We had some questions about the kind of challenges they faced, how starting up in advertising is different than starting up in another fields. We also wanted to know what advice they had for those just trying to get their foot in the door and also, how do they come up with such interesting and sometimes alienating ads.

They were kind enough to answer our questions; you can read the full unedited interview below.

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What made you start curry-nation?

Curry Nation was borne out of a deep felt need to create winning partnership with clients. Something that was missing.

You have done some very interesting campaigns for a wide range of brands, which one was most challenging and which was most fun to work on?

The most challenging was creating the communication for 18 Again. A vaginal Tightening cream. It was a first of its kind product in the market. The challenge was to create communication that would engage with the audience but without overt sexual overtones. We managed to create a communication that had not a single ‘exposure’ shot and yet communicated the benefit of the product outstandingly. If you see other parallel categories like deodorants or male sexual enhancements product, there is so much of uncalled for skin exposure that beats the purpose of the brand.

Would you like to tell us about your creative process?

At Curry Nation the one thing that we strive to unearth is unique ‘IndSights’. We are such a culturally rich country. Advertising can borrow a lot to create communication that people can relate to.

For Krishna Thulasi a brand of soap with Thulasi in it, we tried to break category norms of pimple free skin. We rode on the ‘purifying’ inventory of thulasi that people carry in their mind. We positioned it as ‘daily abhishekham’. Abhishekham is a ritual that the temple pujari does to a deity to cleanse it every morning with thulasi water.

For Nirlep – a brand of non stick cookware we uncovered the insight that ‘Indians love to eat’. We Infact mark every state, city, road with the eatery that it’s famous for. We positioned Nirlep as ‘ Khaate peete desk ka rakhwala’. Eat as much as you wish, Nirlep will take care of your health as it consumes less oil.
What are the latest changes in ad world and what are your predictions for future?

I think today clients are seeking far more accountability and involvement from their agencies. The environment is becoming tough for marketers and hence they will seek senior management involvement to solve their marketing problem

Secondly, clients are looking at one agency to handle the various communication needs. Clients are realizing that interacting with various service providers is a waste of their time. Plus the brands core DNA gets distorted when there are multiple people handling a single brands communication.

Thirdly, the days of long relationships with agencies seem to be ending. Clients are willing to experiment with smaller creative agencies while their long standing relationship with bigger agencies continues. This way they get fresh perspectives and have a buffet of options to choose from. This doesn’t augur too well but that is slowly becoming a norm.
What are the day-to-day challenges you have to face in running an agency?

When you are an entrepreneur you are the doorman as well as the Chairman. That’s the famous adage.You have to have an eagle’s eye on all activities happening in the agency as well as stick to your vision and drive business to newer heights. But that’s the joy of running your own agency. You decide your agenda and you drive it to the hilt. Nobody can deter you.

How can one get into advertising, is formal education necessary? What are some good qualities to have?

Ideas, a curious mind, agility to act upon an idea, passion to outperform yourself day on day, are some qualities that are much needed to be in advertising and drive a clients business

Which rival campaign you loved and wished you had done it? Which one do you think you could do better than original?
I love the entire Cadbury communication. The lovely Indian insight of ‘Khane mein kuch meetha ho jaaye’ is hugely campaign able. And the ‘Har ek friend zaroori hota hai.Every campaign can be bettered. Because, no two individuals think alike. There are always ways to better anything.

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Kirti Bhardwaj

Engineer,Budding Economist,Web Developer, Philosophy Student, Traveler, Whovian, Self-Proclaimed Stoic.

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