Creative Minds: Bobby Pawar was a copywriter before he knew what copywriting was

We get to know the chairman and CCO at Havas India through his answers to 11 questions. Learn about how he earned booze money in college, the hilarious reason he initially thought copywriting wasn't the job for him and the key role eavesdropping has played in his career

27 Oct 2021 | By PrintWeek Team

Bobby Pawar

Name: Bobby Pawar

Origin: Belgaum, India

Places lived/worked: Mumbai, Pune, New York, Chicago

Pronouns: “I’ll go with Lord. Hey, a man can dream, can’t he?"


  • Chairman and chief creative officer, Havas Group India (2019-present)
  • Managing director, chief creative officer, Publicis Worldwide (2015-2019)
  • Director and chief creative officer, Publicis Worldwide (2013-2015)
  • Chief creative officer, India managing partner, JWT (2012-2013)
  • Chief creative officer, DDB Mudra Group (2007-2012)
  • Group creative director, Energy BBDO (2004-2007)
  • Senior partner, creative director, Ogilvy & Mather New York (2000-2003)
  • Creative director, Mumbai, Ogilvy India (1995-2000)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

Back in the day, a friend of mine wanted to become a copywriter. Since I was clueless about most things, including what I was going to do with my life, I asked him what a copywriter does. He said a copywriter writes the copy for ads. Well, that didn’t help me much, so I quizzed him on what copy is. He explained, it is the words that make an ad, like the words you see on a billboard. Now nearly 30 years back all the billboards in India were hand painted by people who climbed like a hundred feet in the air, hung from ropes, and brushed the words on the billboard. I remember telling my friend, I can’t do that, I have vertigo. He cleared my misconception and gave me the lowdown on advertising and a copywriter’s role in it, but not before laughing real hard. Anyway, I thought “It's writing, how hard can it be?" I mean, all through college I had hustled booze money by writing poems and letters for lovesick fools. I was so wrong. Took me a while, but eventually, I stopped sucking at this whole writing business.  

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

‘Silent National Anthem' for Big Cinemas. 

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

I am going to get greedy and pick three. Fearless girl for State Street; subservient chicken for Burger King and Micheal Jordan’s ‘Failure’ commercial for Nike.

4. What/who are your key creative influences?

Eavesdropping on people’s conversations (many of the life insights I have are not my own). All forms of creativity and self-expression. RK Laxman (a famous Indian cartoonist), Pu La Deshpande (a celebrated writer and playwright), Bob Dylan, Neil French, Piyush Pandey, Rick Boyko, and yes, Bill Bernbach.

5. Who was the most important person in your life that wasn’t your parent?

I would have said my kids, but I wouldn’t have them if I wasn’t married. So, yeah, my wife. Jokes aside, I won’t go all mushy and say she completes me. Clearly, I am far from being complete anything, except sometimes I am a complete idiot. However, I will say that I feed off my wife’s strength. When it really counts, she believes in me, more than I believe in me. Another thing, she totally gives me a whooping every time I need it. Thanks, babe.

6. What kind of student were you?

I am an English-lit major. Before that, I was a computer-engineering dropout. And oh, when I was in second grade the teacher made me kneel all day outside the classroom for nearly a month. Enough said.

7. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

No, nothing crazy going on here. I’ve been on the straight and narrow all my life. Hey, I don’t need to virtue signal, cause you know, I am so virtuous. Really.

8. What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could?

I know you are crying because a couple of kids called you bumpsdoll (don’t ask me what that means, it’s a long story, and I’m not telling it unless I get paid a lot of money), but in the coming years you will lead an interesting life filled with many amazing moments, while the highlight of their lives will be bullying smaller kids in school.

9. What's the last song/artist you listened to?

It’s Okay by Nightbirde. She is a cancer patient who has a 2% chance of survival, yet she keeps her spirit up, because she says it’s better than zero. She also said, you can’t wait for things to turn good before you choose to be happy. 

10. What's your guilty pleasure?

It starts with the letter ‘P’. Oh, I bet you thought I wouldn’t notice that your mind immediately went to porn, did you? Sadly, my guilty pleasure is far more socially acceptable, although it is not terribly productive: Procrastination.

11. Tell us about your tattoo(s).

I have the image of a dog doing its business on a fire hydrant inked on my back. It is there to remind me that no matter useful or important you are, someone will always pi** on you. Okay, I have no tattoos. Why? Needles scare me. 

12. Tell us about a charity or cause you think needs more attention.

Depression, especially among men. From an early age, guys are taught that you are not a man if you can’t deal with it. That needs to change.

13. Do you have a nickname? Why?

Actually, Bobby is my nickname. My aunt bestowed it upon me soon after I was born.

(Source: Campaign India)

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