Collaboration is key: Raj Nayak

28 Sep,2015


One of the first things senior mediaperson and Colors CEO Raj Nayak did when he was elected President of the Advertising Club a fortnight back was to register a Twitter handle, and start reaching out to the fraternity.  He has several other plans up his sleeve, including collaborating with other industry associations to work for a common cause. In an interview with Pradyuman Maheshwari last week, Raj Nayak spoke of some of his plans for the Ad Club, on doing things beyond Goafest, Effies and Emvies and how he manages to find the time to do all of it…


One did get an indicator that you were looking at bigger things when you took on the responsibility of the secretary of the Advertising Club two years back…

You should be a fortune-teller or an astrologer because two years back I had no inkling of this when I was roped into the Ad Club as secretary. I’ve been a part of the advertising community – whether it’s the Ad Club or IAA, but to be honest with you, this hasn’t happened by design.


As someone who has been tracking Ad Club events for the two-plus decades since you’ve got into the profession, what are the things you remembers most from then to now?

I’ve grown up with the Ad Club. When I started my first job and became a member of the Ad Club, I remember having contributed two articles in Solus. Ad Club used to organise events on a regular basis. It used to be in the Nehru Centre in Worli or other venues and the entire industry would attend them. It used to be a big thing to be invited or for your boss to say, “I’ve got a pass for you to go to an Ad Club function.” Today if you look at the Ad Club, we do some big functions. We do the Emvies, the Effies and of course the Goafest. We do a lot of things. But these are all big events. I think the constant engagement that we used to have with the fraternity, with the industry, has somewhere got eroded. That too for me was the uniqueness of the Ad Club. It was a close fraternity which not only came together during big events, but there was constant engagement happening.


So, Mr President what do we expect from your tenure?

The Ad Club has been one of the best institutions in our industry. It’s 60 years’ old, there have been many past Presidents. There have been many committees before and I think that they did a phenomenal job. My sole aim is to build on it. To try and see how do I take it to the next level. As you wrote on your website, one of the first things I did was to start a Twitter handle for the Ad Club. I plan to start a website for the Ad Club which will be a one-stop shop to get curated content for the industry.


The Ad Club has become more of just the Goafest, Effies and Emvies. Surely it should be doing lot more than just these big events.

Yeah. I agree with you completely. We are all non-profitable organisations and are working for same cause in a way. We are working for the fraternity. We do similar things. I don’t see any reason if IAA is doing an event why can’t Ad Club be a partner of it. If Ad Club is doing an event why can’t AAAI be a partner of it? If all three of us work together because the objective is the same, the purpose is the same. We are actually giving our personal time from our daily routine to give back to the industry. I’m going to initiate it with the IAA and AAAI. Say, let us work together on some projects so that we can amortise costs, instead of doing more of the same, let’s do quality events. Let’s bring the fraternity together instead of doing things alone.


A few years back the Club changed its name from The Advertising Club Bombay to The Advertising Club with the objective of taking on a national footprint. It hasn’t really happened in right earnest except for the fact you’ve jury meetings and a few events happening in Delhi.

I don’t think it’s the right way to look at it.  It is the Advertising Club of India because everything that we do has national participation whether it’s the Emvies or theEffies. What we need to do is to find some ways of engaging with people in other cities that’s not just by going and doing events. I used to be the Secretary of the Bangalore Advertising Club in 1990.  A friend of mine Arvind Kumar, ex-Times of India, is now the Executive Director of the Club. He sent me a congratulation message this morning and said  “Raj let’s look at doing something together.” I would like to reach out to advertising clubs in Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi. Why don’t we partner and do things together? On the national level, we’ll give you the support. On the local level you extend your support to us. That’s the way we should do things rather than do things in isolation.


Do you think the Advertising Club awards – the Abby – should be held as a part of Goafest?

The Goafest is established in spite of all the minuses, controversies and everything. I have no hesitation in admitting that it is the biggest advertising festival this country has ever seen or the country used to see. The participation last year was around 6-7000. I don’t know the exact number but it’s not easy to gather such a kind of number. One is to get number of people. Second is to curate it and make it better…


But a majority of the advertising folks are based in Mumbai and they find getting to Goa a pain.

I don’t agree because if the people are ready to make the effort to go to Cannes, I think they can come to Goa. It’s just an excuse. If you don’t want to do something, you won’t do it. The fact that if 4-6000 people can come to Goa, then anyone can. But what is important about Goafest is that we don’t plan our calendar well in advance. If we are able to fix the calendar and say this is when Goafest happens and try and fix a date every year then nobody can make an excuse. If you’ve a board meeting, you can make an excuse. Then we should be able to tell the industry these are the dates, block your calendar and please be there. Then, nobody will have an excuse.


The advertising industry has changed considerably from being the 10-15 big agencies of yesteryears. The media fraternity has also grown considerably. Do you see the Ad Club adapting itself to the new reality?

We have to. I want to be more inclusive. One of the reasons I opened a Twitter handle and intend to have a website is to send the right signals that we are evolving. There are lots of small agencies and they are doing very good work. It’s not just the big agencies. There are small agencies whether it’s in the media or creative. Look at the composition of my managing committee. Prasoon Joshi has been appointed as the creative advisor to the club. You’ll see some more names. It was just that I was out of the country when everything happened, I put up everything in a day. I’ve already a client there. We’ll soon see another creative person or client coming on board. So, I’m trying to put together a team. We have Bhaskar Das and Shashi Sinha ensuring continuity because they know how the club has worked, what are the pluses and the minuses. I can learn from their experience and knowledge. At the same time I’ve brought in a lot of new people, fresh blood who will bring in fresh ideas. Keeping in mind a very clear structure as to who will do what. So, one of the things I’m going to do is to start a membership drive. There is going to be a sponsorship drive. So, in every area,  I’ve identified people who I think will be best suited for particular role so that clearly roles are earmarked for everybody. Then we work like any corporate structure works.


Loads of plans, how are you going to manage the time, especially with a busy job as CEO of Colors?

A lot of people say when you become CEO you are supposed to be extremely busy. I actually work the other way round. I believe a CEO should free himself and make time for himself. My KRA is just one thing: to make sure that every person who works with me wakes up in the morning and says I want to go to work. If I’m able to create the adrenaline rush in that person, my job is done because they do the work, I get the credit. Delegation is the key. That’s how we work at Colors and we delegate roles and responsibilities. We clearly have a marked calendar for our meetings. We don’t need too much time. At the end of the day, if you plan well I think you can manage.


It’s too early to ask you this question. You’ve just taken on the job of the President. If there is one thing you would like to be remembered for having achieved as Ad Club President, what would it be?

Too early for me to answer as well. But I come from a school of thought where if you ask me what’ll be my one contribution that I’ll bring to the table: I will say passion. Anything I do, I’m passionate about it. I firmly believe everybody does a job. Very few people are remembered for what they’ve done. I would like to be one of those people, hopefully someday to be remembered for whatever I’ve contributed to the Ad Club. What it will be, I don’t know. As you said, it’s too early for me. But, once I get into the pool and start swimming, probably I would know how deep the water is. Hopefully I’ll swim well.


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