Partha Sinha on Creativity

Partha Sinha on Creativity

April 9, 2015

Among the many creative marketers enlightening the audience at Communication Summit at Commward 2014, Partha Sinha well captured the attention of the marketers with his keen observation on the current trends in advertising.

Partha Sinha is currently a part of the management running Publicis South Asia and is responsible for the strategic product.

Partha started his career with Citibank NA where he was the marketing manager for Credit Cards. From there, he moved on to Ogilvy and Mather where he started the discipline of strategic planning in India. He left Ogilvy as Vice President Planning to join an internet start up where he had a brief but exciting stint. Partha then joined as the Marketing Director for Zee Telefilms where he was responsible for the marketing and programming strategy of 14 channels of Zee Telefilms.

He also served as the chief strategy officer of South East Asia where he was responsible for planning in all SE Asia offices. He left Publicis to start BBH in India where he was a Managing Partner. After a successful launch of BBH, he was brought back within the group to Publicis worldwide.

Partha has a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineer from IIT, Kharagpur and an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. Partha is an occasional columnist with the Economic Times and the Financial Express and teaches at IITs and IIMs. Partha is an avid reader, sports enthusiast and loves Indian classical music.

Despite the tight schedule of his first visit to Bangladesh, Partha Sinha engaged in a deep conversation with Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF) correspondent with topics spanning from creativity, content marketing to his personal career plan. In this feature, we share the excerpts from the exclusively insightful interview of the distinguished expert.

BBF: How does it feel to be here in Bangladesh for the first time? What are some of your first-hand observation about Bangladesh?

Partha Sinha: Unfortunately and quite embarrassingly, yes, this is my first time here in Bangladesh. I should have come here in Bangladesh a long ago, in fact a lot of times actually. Sadly this is my first time. The first thing that made my heart melt with joy was the fact that when I entered Commward 2014, the official signage was in Bengali. It has been years since I have seen an official welcome in a Bengali signage. Although I grew up in Kolkata, the official signage there was mostly in English. So yes, this was a terrific moment for me.

BBF: How did it feel to be a part of Commward 2014? What were some of your observations about the program?

Partha Sinha: It felt wonderful to be a part of such a grand event. I feel the idea behind introducing Commward is quite impressive and I felt really glad to be a part of this program this year. I tried to contribute through my experience and learning that I had achieved all these years and I hope the participants were largely benefitted from it.

BBF: Since you work for a strategic agency, what is your perception regarding the creative agencies in Bangladesh? What would be your view considering the recent upsurge in digital marketing in Bangladesh?

Partha Sinha: As far as I have observed, the creative agencies here are still quite stuck on display advertisements such as banners and posters and have not yet adopted creative strategies up to its potential. Personally I believe, Bangladesh is country that can be at the forefront of digital media innovation if it continues to adopt creativity as their core agenda. As far as studies are concerned, smaller markets have shown to have huge potential for marketers and Bangladesh could be leading the market if it keeps up growing at this amazing rate.

BBF: Since you talked about creativity, how much importance would you personally give to creativity for the success of any creative agency?

Partha Sinha: Creativity itself is very important for any business, but we have to remember that creativity is not about the quality of the idea; it is also about looking into the problem, looking into the people in an interesting way. Creativity should be used to build business for the company. Creativity just for the sake of creativity, or the way we traditionally use creativity in the world of advertising, is very narrow as far as I am concerned. So yes, personally I find creativity significantly important only if it is used for the right business purpose.

Related: The Role of Creativity in Advertising

BBF: Why do you think a lot of creative agencies are still skeptical of adopting creativity as their core part of agenda? Why are they still adopting the traditional business strategies for their clients?

Partha Sinha: The reason behind this skepticism is we have yet not been able to prove the correlation between the success of a business model and its relation to creativity. As soon as we would be able to establish such link in business terms, more and more original ideas and thinking would be welcomed in this sector as well. Currently, agencies are not confident enough to utilize creativity up to its full potential only because they are not been able to figure out its value in business or monetary terms.

BBF: You are currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Publicis South Asia. What are your main objectives at Publicis as a Chief Strategy Officer?

Partha Sinha: At Publicis, our objective is very simple, we try to analyze a problem in different angles and then try to find a humane solution. Every time marketing or a business problem is thrown at us, what we always try to focus is on finding a humane solution to that problem and work towards its implementation.

BBF: What are your future goals as the chief strategy officer at Publicis in the coming years?

Partha Sinha: Publicis is already among the top 5 strategic agencies in the region, but we are not content with it. In the next two years, we would like to be among the top 3, and then in the near future maybe the biggest agency in the region. We want to grow not only in terms of size; we aim to grow in terms of reputation too. We want to be known as a strategic agency, which can provide innovative and optimal solutions to the business problems of our clients.

BBF: You were involved with Bartle Bogle Hegarty for few years as a Managing Partner. How was your experience there? Was it significantly different from working at Publicis?

Partha Sinha: Working for Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) was a transformative experience for me. BBH has a substantially stronger culture than Publicis as an organization. BBH actually has the strongest culture amongst the companies I have worked so far. Their culture strictly values effectiveness where effectiveness is termed as their objective while creativity being the strategy. That’s how I have absorbed the need to use creativity for bringing business results. BBH is smaller as an organization than Publicis. As a result of its small scale, BBH is more of culture driven organization where one single culture can drive through the whole organization. Publicis, on the other hand, works on scale and as a result it becomes immensely tough for them to maintain that one strong culture throughout the organization. When you meet a BBHiate, it is very easy to understand that he works for BBH as result of that one single culture, but for Publicis, it is not the same story.

BBF: You have previously also worked for Citi NA. What would be the main difference between working at a bank and a strategic agency? How does the culture differ?

Partha Sinha: In a creative strategic agency, whenever we look into a problem, we try to find out its solution and justify the end result with brand recognition, publicity, customer reactions and in some aspects, by the amount of profit generated. In a bank, at the end of the day, everything is calculated in terms of money. Every strategic decision that you take in a bank, is important, but it would always end up in the common question of whether it is finally resulting into money. In a bank, when money is not being generated up to the level of expectation, everyone starts to panic and we end up attempting everything and anything available to us to generate money. At the end of the day, for a bank, there is no bigger reality than money.

BBF: Do you think creativity is of same significance to banks as it is to strategic agencies?

Partha Sinha: To me creativity means originality. Creativity is important for every type of company if creativity can be utilized to bring in business results for that particular company. Otherwise, creativity just for the sake of creativity would not have any significance for any organization.

BBF: You were also involved with media at Zee Telefilms. Any special experience you would like to share?

Partha Sinha: Working for Zee Telefilms was an interesting learning phase for me. By working in the media, I got to learn more about large format content and its impact on the audience. It is eventually content which every audience loves to see; and television as a media has successfully understood large format content and its application. So while working there, I got acclimatized more with the usage of large format content and it has been a good perspectival change for me too as a marketer.

BBF: Regarding content, what is your perception regarding the recent trend called “content marketing”?

Partha Sinha: I perceive it as a very interesting tool as long as it is not used as a fad. It surprises me when people overuse contents just for marketing purposes. Before doing any kind of content marketing, you first have to understand its purpose, and also have to realize that every content cannot necessarily be branded. Content is beautiful, it is what every audience wants, but overusing it would lose its appeal. I see no problem in using content in branding, but I am against the overdoing of branded content just for marketing purposes.

Related: Henry S Tenedero on Creative Marketing, Holistic Education, & the Path to Success

BBF: You are currently at the top position in your career. How would you like to continue in the coming years?

Partha Sinha: What I have already started to do is to inspire startups. I believe these startups are crucial in driving the economy forward for a nation. Currently, I am also teaching in universities. I believe throughout my career, I have accumulated some invaluable experience that I can pass on to the younger people before they are going for startups or starting any kind of business. In the future, I believe I would be in between teaching and consulting startups as a part of my passion. As a person, I would like to continue my legacy in the mode of sharing the knowledge that I have learned, and pass the torch to the youth who would able to carry it forward in the future.

BBF: What would be your message to the participants of Commward 2014?

Partha Sinha: Think business. Think how your strength can be used to build business. Don’t linger, rather use your speed of thinking. The only way you can reach you aspirations from today’s reality is only by your speed of thinking.

Interviewed & Compiled


Amitabh Guha Roy

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