Ad land’s Young Guns: Manu Gopinath, Havas Media India

Featured in this edition of Ad land’s Young Guns is Manu Gopinath, Associate Media Director, Havas Media India. Gopinath was elevated to this position in April this year and has been heading planning and buying for Tata Motors. He had joined Havas Media India in June 2013 as Senior Client Service Leader (Offline & Online).

Prior to Havas, he was with Mindshare, where he was Planning Manager. He has also had stints at Allied Media India and ABM India.

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

How did you get into advertising?
A very quick realisation that I rank amongst the worst engineers ever produced, but have a penchant for numbers and problem solving skills had me looking at avenues where I could put certain skill sets to good use at a very early stage of my career. Finally, the world of advertising and media found me and eventually I was doing what I was good at.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
Analytics is my forte. As they say, numbers is as close as we can get to God’s handwriting. But even more than that, I believe it’s my strongest resolve and resolute attitude that has helped me weather the strongest of storms, helped make peace with the failures it brought along and eventually make something for greater good.

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
Tata T1 Prima Truck Racing – The concept of racing, that too trucks racing, was an idea far ahead of its time for the Indian audience. From the time it was conceived in 2013 to the numerous changes, meetings, sleepless nights of rigorous planning and to its execution in 2014, we all worked knowing that it is going to be a litmus test for all of us. Since, Tata has planned this campaign decades ahead of its time, we as partners had to shoulder the responsibility of making it a benchmark of sorts in an industry marred by stereotypes. It was the campaign that made me unlearn everything that I had learnt until that point. Initially shocked by the sheer scale of the campaign itself, the relentless necessity to outdo the ourselves, eventually it helped me to think beyond the numbers, to plan, to envisage, to build, to execute so as to breathe life into thecampaign. From its successful launch to the 3rd season this year, it stands as a testimony to that hard work.

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
As I said before, I wasn’t enticed with the world of advertising that got me into it. It was the numbers that gave me the high. Just not the analytics, but the brilliance of execution of the same in real time. I am a huge fan of the work of Paul Depodesta and can only hope that some time the numbers will give me enough high to do something like that.

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
I make sure I start my day early – early riser never misses the breath of fresh morning air. I am very punctual – be it a busy or a lag day. I keep myself abreast with the industry, make sure I read the newspaper every day before I start my work. Every day, one to two hours go into learning statistics. Likewise, it’s important to unwind so that one doesn’t lose track (work can be very excruciating here!). So, I have picked up a hobby of learning a new language every year (I invest an hour everyday religiously into it) and I cook every day.

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Yes, it is. Especially for someone who had found a passion doing it.

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
Needless to say, falling in love with it and hard work come to the foremost. But even more than the time you put in the hard work, it is more about having a sense that can smell the opportunity and is not scared to take up that challenge that will separate you from the rest.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
Endure, endure and endure my good brethren, your time is just around the corner…and it’s perfectly alright to lose.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Most likely heading the research wing of some agency.

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Yes, in one of my own!


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