At the start of this year, I spoke to Lowe Lintas’ Sagar Kapoor about working on campaigns for Lifebuoy
during a period where handwashing was as important as ever. However, without a crystal ball no one knew how 2021 would pan out – and for India it was a time of turmoil and tension that seemed as though it was never ending.
It seemed fitting then, to pick up with Sagar where we left off and find out about how the past few months have treated him and working on so many iconic and life-changing campaigns. Here, he reflects on those, working at the agency for 20 years and why watching others turn business problems into the art of advertising has been key in inspiring him.
LBB> We touched base previously to discuss your work for Lifebuoy, but from your perspective how has it been being a part of some iconic campaigns?
Sagar> Besides all the purpose-driven communication on Lifebuoy, the present one has been the most fulfilling. Lifebuoy has focused on a public service campaign, where we are reminding people of the importance of not just handwashing but also about social distancing, proper face mask procedures and vaccination. Again, handwashing not just with Lifebuoy but with any soap.
LBB> With that in mind, the brand has actually helped save lives with #HelpAChildReach5 how does it feel to know you're making such an impact on people's lives?
Sagar> To Lifebuoy, communicating the criticality of handwashing playing a part in saving lives has been the mission right from the birth of the brand. Help A Child Reach 5 has and will have its importance with respect to communicable illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia and handwashing being a key protection against these illnesses. That said, in the Covid era, our task of saving lives with the right handwashing habits has reached a point none of us ever imagined. There cannot be anything bigger than even one life saved.
LBB> You've been at Lowe Lintas since you were a trainee almost 20 years ago! What has made you stay so long and also what creative changes have you seen?
Sagar> 19 years to be precise. I did not work for 19 years at Lowe Lintas, it was like a paid scholarship to me. I met some amazing people who also created advertising. I was given access to brands that shaped me, before I could have imagined shaping them. The place taught me being a creative in advertising was a responsibility and not a privilege.
On how has creativity changed from then to now… if creativity cannot even adapt, it has no business being in the business. Pardon the ‘copywriting’. To summarise the response: we still solve problems in a way most people won’t imagine solving them.
LBB> Being in the industry and working with many big brands comes with its challenges - what have been some for you and how have you worked through them?
Sagar> Challenges are common to any size of a brand. The nature of challenges differs. That’s what we were taught at Lowe Lintas. So, regardless of the size of the brand, our task is to solve the problem of the brand. In my career thus far, I have been through varying degrees of hardships to solve these problems.
If there is one formula (only if there is) I was taught to partner with everyone who is a part of the problem solving. And as all of us have experienced in this most dynamic era of humankind, when you approach a problem together, chances of a solution being reached in time is way higher than one person doing it. I have been fortunate to have a team (clients included) to solve a brand problem.
LBB> What have been your favourite campaigns to work on and why?
Sagar> I love the ones that worked. I love the ones that did not a bit more. Since I would like to believe all of them had pure ‘intent’ behind them. My belief is any form of content that has the right intent behind it should work. It does happen at times that some of them do not. That’s fine, we need not still lose the intent bit. It is like asking a doctor which cases were your favourite ones. She/he would only want to solve a problem and see someone healthy/stronger. I would rather share my work at large with people and let them decide what they like the most (if they do like anything at all).
LBB> How has it been working through the pandemic and how much have priorities changed?
Sagar> It has been a strange mix of personal and professional aspects of life. Since now, both have fused into each other, I am as confused, as clear as all of us are. Every morning is a new dynamic and our individual system and the larger system has to adjust to it. We are caring more, praying more, working more and yet feeling more. For ourselves and for everyone else around us. It is making us stronger but there’s no shying away from saying it is not easy, for any of us. We are all in it (together for sure).
The priority, without a doubt is (and should be, even post the pandemic) humanity.
LBB> What, for you, makes India's creative scene so unique - and how do you think it'll change in the future?
Sagar> In the advertising world it has never been only India’s creative scene. We should all wear global hats. Of course, our hyper local briefs will solve local issues. Thinking wise we should have a world view. Since our consumers will have one for sure. In terms of the ‘future’ it is always a term that has been used to scare the ‘poor present’. Only if the present is strong enough is when we will have a chance to have a future. So, we will decide what will change in the future. As of now, I am sure the future awaits an answer from the present.
LBB> The emergence of the digital era has changed creativity so much, so how do you ensure you keep abreast of any changes?
Sagar> We are all on social media, we all read, write and browse/scroll through posts. Not to mention our parents too (perhaps a bit more than us). So there’s no change coming from the outside and hitting us. We are the change. Adapting and experiencing and even creating the new. So, no pressure there.
LBB> Where does your creative motivation and inspiration come from?
Sagar> Being termed ‘CREATIVE’ in my school and family group (both matter immensely). Getting paid for it. Waking up and thinking of stories (since I am a bad reader). What motivates me the most is people, the way they act and they react. If not the above, food does end up motivating me.
LBB> Who are your creative heroes and why?
Sagar> There are many. Most of them I have had the privilege of working with, around and remotely observing. Not all belong to the ‘vertical’ of ‘creative’. Some of them could be termed as brand servicing people, some as ‘strategic planners’ some also as ‘clients’. That said, if I had to mention some names they would be Mr. R. Balki, Mr. Piyush Pandey and Mr. Amer Jaleel (who I still have the opportunity to work with and learn from). Their body of work is an obvious answer but I have personally grown just by observing them. The biggest factor being how they approach a business/brand problem and turn it into the art of advertising.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Sagar> Not dead. Yet.