Everybody is sick of the Apple, Nike & Virgin references.

Head of Strategy at Innocean Worldwide, Australia Sidharth Loyal talks about the need for real experiences; in our private and professional lives.

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“My interview started and I was told that I could remove my tie, if I wanted. I did, and I think removing my tie that day was symbolic of also getting rid of the big “career” burden.”

Sidharth Loyal

Q:How did you get started in advertising and specifically planning?

Sidharth Loyal: Back in the day in India, there was very limited access to internet, cell phones or cable TV.

Sweating in the Delhi summer heat, the tie was suffocating and my nervousness was not helping. It was a miserable week and after interviewing with some top companies, I knew that even if I did land a job, I wouldn’t last long.

Just walking through tube lit corridors of people wearing suits and punching away on their computers in cubicles, made me want to run away. (I say this with no disrespect, but I just couldn’t see myself in that situation)

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from the corner to the corner office
  1. Client need to see real work in context of their business problem to help them figure out what they want. Stop referencing what others are doing (everybody is sick of the Apple, Nike & Virgin references!);
  2. Its easy to get into pitches, very difficult to play the politics to win the business;
  3. Network shamelessly;
  4. Always be polarizing;
  5. Fitting in culturally is the second most important thing (after money);
  6. Keep your friends close and the creative community closer ;
  7. Learn, learn and learn (read books, learn a software, see films, music; anything and go to Burning Man!)

Q: What are some of the risks and opportunities facing the creative industry?

Sidharth Loyal:

The creative industry thrives on knowledge. Yet, knowledge is a double edged sword in the context of what we do in advertising; it is both a risk and opportunity.


Once the idea starts shaping up, use data, tools etc. to help support the idea, not the other way round.

Q: New technology has amplified old and created new forms of behavior. How do you decide what to invest time and money in to build skill-sets around?

And believe it or not, its what your clients will buy!

The basics never change, we are in the emotions business and no amount of new tech will take away the emotional fabric of our society — even Google glasses.

The only catch is to document the entire week. Everything.

Culture is integral and if I’m hiring fresh candidates who have no work experience, I’d want to know what they do, where they go, what they listen too — basically, what the world is, that they live in.

So, first of all, they need to change their mindset on it being about sex, drugs and hip-hop. Its completely the opposite.

Specifically, with regards to focusing on skills and knowledge topics, here are a few tips for new planners:

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  1. Support your arguments with facts. Do your homework. I hear a lot of top line statements that cannot be substantiated. Facts help you get to the point faster and more importantly, help you gain respect;
  2. Throw any preconceived notions about people, clients, industry, money out of the window; you are entering a world of opportunity, so the less baggage the faster your ability to run with the ball;
  3. Don’t hide from the truth. Ever;
  4. Embrace culture, music, films, art and technology;
  5. Learn the basics about finance and business — this will always help put briefs in perspective and in context;
  6. Master something you love to the best of your ability;
  7. Pay attention and absorb all the interesting things happening in and around you.

The three things that I am relearning are:

  1. the uses of my mobile phone and what all new stuff I can keep doing with it, literally on a weekly basis;
  2. my interactions on social media — including etiquette, sharing of information and whom to connect with;
  3. the consumer centric approach to building brands — consumers today build brands and not the other way round.

And the three things that I am unlearning are:

  1. My approach to content: user generated content is more authentic & valuable than what industry experts, teachers and authors say — and choosing what content and where to source it out from, is another extremely important aspect to take into account;
  2. My approach to youth: no prizes for guessing that they are the future, but more importantly their take on life, underground events and technology helps define mainstream culture and we need to spend more time with them — as real people, not as boring marketers;
  3. My approach to technology: love it and embrace it or at least pretend. You can’t not go without it anymore and the sooner you get more tech savvy, the sooner you’ll be able to get more stuff done — its no longer a novelty value, available to a select few, or only for the geeks.

With the available wealth of information, access to tools, talent, technology and funding, one really doesn’t need “job experience” in the traditional sense anymore.

All you need is your big idea and the balls to see it through to make it happen. And the world will never run short of wanting good, big or better ideas.

Thank you Mr Loyal.

“Where the puck is going” is an interview series by GapJumpers. We ask people we like and find interesting to share their thoughts. Whenever we find someone willing to answer our questions, we’ll feature them. If you’d like to stay updated on more stories, please follow the collection.

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