Prahlad Kakar Speaks – Change is the only constant, the objective never changes

Prahlad Kakar, Advertising Film Director, for Prahlad Kakar Film Production, one of India’s oldest and foremost Ad film production houses since its inception in 1977. Prahlad founded his firm in 1977 and virtually invented a genre of television advertising in India in the years that followed. Prahlad has ruled the advertising world with his brand of irreverent humor, memorable brand building campaigns and has created Award winning commercials for the most reputed Corporates and agencies in India and the Asia Pacific region. 

After having assisted renowned feature Filmmaker, Mr. Shyam Benegal he moved onto Advertising films. “To tell a story in 30 seconds in the most engaging way possible” remains Prahlad’s raison d’être for his continued passion about ad filmmaking, even 30 years later. 

Known as the “Ad guru” he has been instrumental in changing the face of advertising in our country bringing in the appropriate “regional Indianness” and values into an urban context through his films, creative workshops, articles and interviews. He has helped create memorable campaigns for brands like Pepsi “Yehi Hai Right Choice Baby! Aha!”, Gold spot “The Zing Thing”, Maggie “2 minutes!”, Britannia “Ting Ting Ti Ting”, Limca “Zor ka Jhatka” and Maggi Sauces “It’s different”

In an exclusive interview with Geekopedia(G), Here’s what the Ad guru, Prahlad(P) had to say about his journey so far and his new venture, Prahlad Kakar School of Branding & Entrepreneurship.

Prahlad on Prahlad Kakar School of Branding & Entrepreneurship

G: What prompted you to make the shift from Advertising to Training and start Prahlad Kakar School of Branding & Entrepreneurship?

P: We have not shifted anything except to put the learning of our last 35 years in a proper curriculum. We trained only 5 students in an office of 450sq ft., and now we can train up to 50 students in a campus which is of 6 Acres. The change is the only constant in our life, the objective never changes. The Genesis school of hard knocks has provided some of the best professionals in advertising and in business.

G: We heard that some of the activities students will undergo include Swimming with the sharks  (Literally!), Travelling with the Dabbawalas, Mountaineering. What are these activities aimed at?

P: The aim is to give students life lessons and help them to overcome illogical and paranoid fears, which prevent young people from taking hold of their own life and not being held by the lack of courage to take risks. For instance, Scuba diving is to deal with the ocean, which teaches you humility and the capacity to let go with your own ego and become one with a lager, greater, and more powerful source.

G: What kind of students would you prefer in the institute, and how would you shortlist them?

P: I would prefer students who are hungry, restless, and are willing to learn the difference between money and value. And be able to take responsibility for the next rung of entrepreneurial leadership.

Most potential entrepreneurs are risk averse because they are paralysed not only by the fear of failing but also by the fear of fear itself. We have devised a curriculum based lot on our experience, where we subject our kids and future leaders to their greatest fears and help them to perform despite them

Insights from the Journey So Far

G: You have come a long way in your Advertising journey, Its been close to 45 years since you entered the advertising, a few lessons that you would like to share.

P: Advertising, marketing, and brand building are very young at heart professions. We always followed a pattern of mentorship where the journey for both the mentor and mentee is constant – learning on how to be young.

G: During these years, there might have been some downtimes. How do you keep yourself motivated and get back up?

P: There are downtimes because advertising is completely susceptible to recessive economy, and we have had more than our share of it. But if you are on top of your game in the business, you always have enough work to tie you by. However, it is also huge opportunity to learn new things, new discipline, new passion, which can then become career. Which is why I have managed to wear so many hats.

G: A few lines on how advertising has changed/evolved from the time you started ?

Advertising when I first started was not really a career option, it was a holding ground for people who wanted to get on other things. Today advertising has become full-fledged career, and is interlined with marketing and brand building, which is a discipline in itself. Globalisation has bought in it with certain international exposure but at the same time has tried to stifle the local culture. Thank God! Indian advertising has evolved beyond globalisation and is celebrating a unique position of representing a hugely diverse cultural and visual ‘khichdi’.

From Prahlad, exclusively for our readers

G: How would you inspire the young entrepreneurs out there (to start something of their own)?

P: Every human being has the seeds of being an entrepreneur and learnings to spread his wings. 95% of us are still-born, because fear paralyses the shear exhilaration and passion of taking risk. So we have become risk averse and seek safe but boring jobs, where we have to take no responsibilities. Today’s young start-ups are divided into two unequal section, ones that do it for the money, and in the hope that they will stumble across some great idea which then they can quickly sell for large amounts, 90% of these will fail. 

Only a small minority break loose with passion, commitment, a great idea, the courage, and determination not to let go but to make the idea into reality. These youngsters are very possessive about their enterprises and will never give up and will sell very reluctantly. They do it for the thrill and the passion of the idea itself and the exhilaration of jump into the unknown. They deserve the title beyond fear (beyond money) and 90% of them will succeed beyond their wildest imagination.

G: Lastly, What would be the Ad-Guru’s advice with respect to Marketing and Branding to every professional men/women reading this interview out there?

P: You have to first learn the difference between value and money and if you can create value through passion, commitment, and creativity, the money will always follow and not the other way around.

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