Ad land’s Young Guns: Karthik Krishnan, Isobar India

As Creative Group Head at Isobar India, Karthik Krishnan’s primary roles include leading and mentoring the creative team on digital, social & integrated brand campaigns, as well as building and sustaining a robust work-flow process within and around the creative team. He had joined Isobar in January 2016, prior to which he had worked with ibs as Copy Supervisor and OgilvyOne Worldwide. He had started out as an intern with OgilvyAction. 

After a Masters in Life Sciences (Biotechnology), Krishnan switched to advertising, where he discovered his love for writing and began to enjoy giving brands a new life. For seven years, he has been the digital/ social go-to guy for numerous brands in Telecom, BFSI, FMCG, Technology, Retail and Hospitality verticals. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Karthik Krishnan in his own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?

  • Step 1. Make the ill-advised decision to pursue a Master’s degree in Life Sciences (Biotech)
  • Step 2. Accidentally enter advertising (management trainee in client servicing)
  • Step 3. Take advantage of the proximity to creative teams and learn the ropes of copy writing
  • Step 4. Slip into the creative team and 6 years later, voila! Fill this questionnaire

 What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?

  • A no-nonsense ability to see through the clutter of a digital advertising environment and get work that needs to get done, done.
  • An inquisitive and impatient demeanour that allows me to put things in a unique perspective, most often leading to a useful insight.

 One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.

  • The Vodafone Zoozoos 10 million Facebook fans celebration (2012). At the time, it was rare for any brand to spend a small fortune to celebrate an online milestone, which is what Vodafone agreed to do. Being the voice of the Zoozoos on social media for almost 3 years, it was a great opportunity for me.
  • It was a labour of love – getting the required funding for a special project, scripting the videos for the campaign, etc – a unique campaign where I got to call the shots from brief till the go-live date.
  • More project details here:

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?

I don’t have a particular process with which I prepare. I absorb the brief, allow myself to drift and trust myself to come up with something. If not, last minute panic usually gets results! 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?

I honestly have no role models. Online havens such as 9gag, reddit, 27bslash6, The Oatmeal, etc., where millions contribute their stories via pictures, memes, tweets, etc., are my true sources of inspiration. In digital advertising, the best teacher is the audience you cater to. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  1. Play foosball at work (a game every hour, at least)
  2. Music!
  3. Get enough sleep, if not at home, then at work
  4. Endlessly scroll on 9gag
  5. Research for/Post on my Facebook page (Ridiculously Mediocre Photography)

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?

That depends on your ability to carve a meaningful role and career path for yourself. That and your knowledge of how the business you are in runs, regardless of your core skill set. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?

To be blessed with a great start. I was lucky to get my first break in OgilvyOne (Mumbai), where I not only learned the ropes of copy writing, but also understood how a digital advertising agency functions. A close second would be to be surrounded by talented people who drive you to excel. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?

Make plenty of mistakes. Nothing great is ever planned. And if you’re looking to enter digital advertising, know your audience and understand what makes them tick - both online and offline. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

At a courtside seat in Madison Square Garden next to Jack Nicholson, enjoying the NBA All Star game, while also discussing his role in my next made-for-digital video content. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?

In my future, regardless of whether I remain in advertising, I’d love to exercise my creativity for:

  • NBA (creative control over the best spectator sport in the world)
  • Nike (a chance to work with Kobe Bryant/ LeBron James)
  • Budweiser (Come on! It’s a brand that allowed a ‘Whaazaaaaa!’ moment)
  • National Geographic (to satiate my inner photography-smitten child)
  • NECA/ McFarlane Toys (action figures, ‘nuff said!)

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