In Ads

I got a call from Ogilvy & Mather, the advertising agency, saying that they are doing an advertising campaign for ChennaiLive and that they would like to feature me in the advertisement.

The first question that I asked Rangesh, the head of the project, was “Why me?”. Not that I was being modest but I was genuinely interested in knowing the reason why they had picked me. He then began to explain the concept. They had selected 10 people from various fields who have made a difference to Chennai and wanted me to be there from a technology/Internet perspective.

He then began to say who the other folks were.

  1. Benny Dayal, a popular cine playback singer who is part of A.R.Rahman troupe. He has sung for Delhi 6, Ghajini, Ayan and many more.

  2. Sarath Babu, the real life slumdog millionaire who after IIM A, decided to set up a food chain. He sold idlis when he was a kid. He’s now contesting the Lok Sabha elections.�

  3. Venkat Prabhu, Film Director who’s two films Chennai 6000028 & Saroja have been hits.�

  4. Pratap, Head, Human Resources, Sony Ericsson Asia Pacific

  5. Taara Rhine, Cultural Assistant, Allaince Francais�

  6. Swathi Iyengar, Tai Chi expert�

  7. Murali, Gold Gym, Fitness expert�

  8. Mahadevan,  who runs a Rs.400 crore food empire. Think Hot Breads, Planet Yumm, Wangs Kitchen, Zaras, Don Pepe, Benjarong etc.

  9. Chaitanya Rao,Chennai’s leading Fashion Designer,

An impressive list. It reminded me of Cerebrate, where we were aiming to rope in interesting folks from different fields.

I found it a bit fascinating when I was told that this was not a celebrity endorsement and that I will not be paid for it!  I guess they wanted to make things clear.
And so a couple of days later, the crew landed up at my apartment for the photo shoot.  It’s amazing how long a simple photo shoot can last.  Just for that one single photo, the shoot lasted over four hours. It would have lasted longer had it not been the setting of the sun that evening.  And this is not including the test shoot that was done a day earlier.

This makeup man has been in business for over 30 years and has worked on some of the biggest heros and heroines.  As he was giving me layers of paint and powder, we engaged in some interesting conversation about his profession.  By the time he was done with me, I was looking like a drama artist.

There was this instrument that the crew was constantly using. They told me its to check the light intensity and pretty much the same thing that the cricket umpires use.

The crew in action. There was a professional photographer, a visualizer, project coordinator, light boy and the makeup man. I forgot the photographer’s name but distinctly remember him to be a very affable guy who had an amazing smiling face. While he was shooting pics, he would engage me in conversation and crack jokes to get me to smile natually.

By this time, the light was fading fast.  The crew brought out a shiny white material in order to reflect more light on to me.  They wanted me to pose with a laptop. But my laptop was at home which would mean losing precious few minutes. So, the photographer gave me his MacBook to hold.

And so, here’s the final ad.  Amazing how they can pep up things.   Notice the magical disappearance of the Apple logo.  You can see that in my photo but not in the Ad. Guess, its been morphed out.
Click here for a bigger version of the ad.  The text that accompanies the had has a few factual errors.  The copy intends to say I “run” Wikipedia India which is incorrect. Wikipedia is a community project and I play an active part in helping spreading its usage.  Have requested O&M to correct the text.
I had the first real ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the advertising world. The people here are creatively brilliant and at the same time, wacky.  They are also perfectionist to the core. The minutest angle changes and the slightest light correction matter to them.  Overall, the entire experience was fascinating. I’m told that the ads will go live sometime early next month.