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A day in the life of Alok Gadkar

Alok Gadkar, General Manager & Executive Creative Director of The Classic Partnership, is an ideas man who is always hungry for better work and bigger experiences that change the way brands are perceived.
Wednesday 5 Dec 2018
Alok Gadkar

We got in touch with the Cannes Lions jurors who represented the MENA region at the 2018 Festival to get their thoughts on creative transformation. In the second of our series of features, we talk to The Classic Partnership’s Alok Gadkar about his creative routine, the trends and challenges he sees for the year ahead and his perspective on creativity in the region. 

Hi Alok, thank you very much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us and the rest of the industry in the MENA region. We wanted to know what a typical day looks like for you, as a creative director.

Let’s start. What time do you wake up?  What does your morning routine look like? 
The alarm is always ambitiously set at 6 am. Naturally, the hand reaches out to hit the snooze button, while I curse myself for ever setting it that early in the first place. A habit from my school days, I guess. By 7:30 am I’m out of bed. Definitely not a morning person. The first good morning goes to my iPhone. I religiously skim through my emails and social media to catch up with all that’s going on. A bit of caffeine to shake me up, a quick scan of Gulf News, shave, shower, a 20-minute drive to work, and the day begins.

What is a typical day for you?  How do you balance your responsibilities and manage your time?
My phone calendar decides what my day is like. It’s usually planned ahead of time with all my meetings fed into it. A mix of client briefings, internal team meetings, pitch brainstorms, presentations. And just when I think the day seems pretty smooth, I see a red flagged email reading “URGENT: Chairman wants to meet immediately. The campaign needs to go live tomorrow.” 
When I’m not firefighting, or feeling like a superhero for saving the day, I prefer to spend my time thinking and working with my highly talented team. We all need some pressure and unpredictability to bring out the best in tough situations.

Tell us something that not many people know about you?
Everyone has a side that not many know about. I, on the other hand, have nothing to hide. I love getting behind the lens. Having a specialised degree in photography, my love for capturing the world goes way back. You will often find me spending hours taking the perfect shot on my iPhone and editing it till it’s my kind of right. Art plays an important role in my life. While my pockets might not be deep enough to call myself a collector, I take pride in labelling myself as an enthusiast. I love collaborating with artists, musicians, singers or anyone with incredible talent to turn my ideas into art, no matter the form. Here’s the real secret: I’m working on a script that might turn into a fantastic movie one day. To the film producers reading this, let’s catch up.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 
The answer to that is as simple as it is complicated. Because I draw inspiration from anywhere and nowhere. From people, conversations, streets I’ve never been to, bars I have a great time at, interviews I take, taxi drivers I indulge in conversations with or even plane rides where I have nothing to do but think.  Inspiration is all around, waiting for someone to come looking for it. My trick is to listen carefully, no matter what the conversation might be. You never know what someone says that might turn into a big idea.

How do you get your team inspired? 
In my time, I’ve had the honour of working with some great mentors who’ve taught me a lot. Whenever a problem shows its ugly face, I see things the way they would and ask myself what they would have done. They used to always tell me that the best way to inspire anyone, not just a team, is to be a part of the problem solving. Whether it’s a brief or a panicked call from a client, show your team that you’re with them through it all.

Tell us the name of a person in the creative industry that you admire?
There aren’t enough pages to fit that list. From those who have made me who I am today to budding young creatives who I know will change the world one day, there are loads of people I look up to. Having said that, there are a few names I can’t help dropping because of how much respect I have for them. Tony Granger, Rahul Nagpal and Shahir Zag. If you don’t know who they are, you’re not rolling in the right creative circles.

What did you learn from Cannes Lions this year? Did you see any trends in the work? 
This year was the first time I got to see the festival from the eyes of a jury member. Ensuring that only the very best of work was being awarded was a learning experience like nothing I’ve ever had before. I got to witness how different parts of the world address similar problems in their own unique ways. Social and environmental causes, data, distribution and tech dominance were some key trends that seemed to be common across categories. One word seemed to stand out though, tears. The motto was - if it makes you cry, make it win. 

What is the most fascinating thing about the MENA region?
Diversity, diversity and diversity. Nowhere else in the world will you find so many nationalities living together and evolving together to form a culture that is completely new. 

What does Dubai Lynx mean to you?
Dubai Lynx has emerged as one of the most important accolades to win. Considering we operate out of Dubai, it becomes very important as a creative agency and as a flag bearer for brands that work with you to have a presence at Dubai Lynx. It clearly establishes the creative strength of the region and puts us on the map with all other awards shows globally. As a regional show, it understands the nuances, taboos and creative challenges, and accordingly awards work. 

How are you preparing for 2019? What do you see as the creative challenges and opportunities that we’re facing? 
Client budgets are getting tighter by the minute and creative liberty is getting squashed between clients who are trying to combat their relevance on digital vs traditional mediums. Some want to be doing way beyond what is expected while the mass wants to play it safe. The only way to prepare and be ready for 2019 is wipe the slate clean. Forget everything about 2018 and approach the new year with completely new ideas, and new ways of bringing them to life. 

And finally, could you give us a piece of advice for ambitious people looking to thrive and become more creative?  
The only advice I would give is what I was advised by my mentors. Dream big, because they are achieved in no time. #fightforyourideas #partyhard #getinfluenced #looksharp #eathealthy #drinkresponsibly #embracechange