Prasoon Pandey


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A multi-award-winning director, Pandey has earned numerous accolades, including Cannes Lions, making him one of the most respected names in the industry.

His career took off with iconic advertisements such as the Asian Paints Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai campaign, which resonated deeply with audiences for its emotional storytelling and creativity.

Pandey was ranked among the top 25 advertising directors in the world by The Gunn Report. He humorously remarked, “This shows improvement. In high school, I never made it to the Top 25 in my class of 26.” His ability to blend traditional Indian narratives with modern advertising techniques has set a new benchmark.

In recognition of his and his brother [Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and Executive Chairman India of Ogilvy] Piyush Pandey’s unparalleled work, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity awarded them the Lion of St. Mark in 2018. They were the first Asians, and only the seventh worldwide, to receive this honor.

As an icon and innovator, Pandey continues to push advertising boundaries, and here shares cherished memories like an Indian singalong at Cannes while criticizing the industry's overreliance on data.

How long have you been coming to Cannes, and what’s your fondest memory of the festival?

I think I started coming to Cannes from 2001. Besides all the thought provoking talks and brilliant work on display, I think the biggest charm of Cannes is getting to re-connect with creatives from all over the world, exchanging ideas, laughing, drinking and singing together.

My favorite memory is an incredible evening when about 70 creatives from India happened to inadvertently land up for dinner in various little restaurants in a narrow street: Rue du Suquet. One of us noticed an elderly busker singing but not collecting much. We were drunk and happy, so we requested the busker to join us for drinks while we borrowed his guitar. Then we went up and down the street singing Indian movie songs and passing his hat around for money. Soon almost all 70 Indians were singing together. The street singer’s hat was full-up five times that evening and we of course were overfilled with joy.


What’s your favourite piece of work from the last 12 months?

My favourite piece of work this is year is a commercial from Mexico: Moviestar Telecom’s “This is not a game”. It is a great example of powerful writing and execution working wonderfully in tandem. It cleverly uses charming and demented humour only to lead us to the pathos of real life.

Are awards important?

Awards are a fabulous pat on the back from your peers, so it is definitely a very reassuring feeling to get an award. But when your work warms the hearts of the audience it is actually trying to reach, and when these audiences pay you compliments if they bump into you, that brings you the greatest joy. So, I guess awards are important, but certainly not the most important.

If there was one thing you could change about the advertising industry, what would it be?

Its over-reliance on data and research, and the lack of observation and ability to listen to one’s gut feel. That is where not only advertising trips and falls, so does big studio films from Hollywood as do the grand exit polls for elections the world over. The amazing thing is no one learns from it.

Who or what has most influenced your career?

Life around all of us is full of incredible ideas, amazing characters, and mindbending stories. I am a mesmerized student of this life. There is nothing that I create which I can call truly original. I just observe things while holding an empty frame in my mind, and try to connect them with each other. That is where all my ideas come from. I am also fortunate to have been born in an extremely large family where all my 8 siblings are older then me and were all already deep into various art forms: theatre, music, dance, painting. All I did was waddle around, observe them, and soak it in. They all continue to be my teachers.

What piece of work makes you think, ‘I wish I’d made that’?

That list would be so long it would stretch from here to the moon because I marvel at everything.

Tell us one thing about yourself that most people won’t know.

Ha ha. Thankfully most people cannot know much about me anyway. I have never been on social media, and from 1995 when I bought my first cell phone, till today, my cell phone is always on silent. So now you know where to not find me ;)


Over the course of this week we will be celebrating some of the people who are at the heart of advertising's creative landscape, those who - whether creatives, directors, producers or other craftspeople - have made a lasting impact on the business.

Alongside specially commissioned portraits, taken by photographer Julian Hanford, we will be asking our subjects about the work they most admire, both new and old, what Cannes means to them, and what they might change about the industry if they could.

This interview series was created with...



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Icons + Innovators. Prasoon Pandey, Corcoise Filmsshots