Kalpesh Patankar – Creative Leader of the Year: Clients are getting bolder

By Jalaja Ramanunni

At Campaign Middle East’s first Agency of the Year awards, Kalpesh Patankar, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett was named Creative Leader of the Year. We caught up with Patankar who spoke about the changing market dynamics.

Tell us about your journey to the award.

It has been a little over a year since the move to Leo Burnett. A culture of collaboration can bring about amazing results. Winning the entire business mandate for e& (formerly Etisalat) and reinvigorating our brand of advertising for iconic clients like McDonald’s in such a short span of time would not have been possible single-handedly. While I am humbled at receiving such an accolade, it is the team around me that truly made it happen.

How will the award help your agency to navigate forward in the industry?

When you consider the untapped potential of the region combined with the scale of the Groupe – its formidable roster of local, regional and global clients – it gives me the impression that we are surrounded by untapped potential. This is a moment for us and our clients to be inspired. We have converted fantastic new business prospects, produced some exceptional work for our biggest clients and an award like this only adds to the unbridled momentum we are currently experiencing.

Why should other agencies enter these Awards? 

An award creates a sense of reassurance for our clients and industry partners. More importantly, it fosters a culture of aspiration and purpose within the agency. It is the benchmark that separates the excellent from the good in our sphere of operation. You could say that a leader should lead by example, but I am more interested in the trickle-down effect – how it impacts the younger generation. I cannot speak to the ethos of other agencies but recognition is just the journey and not the end result. It is the work and passion that you put along the way that is truly rewarding.

How are your customers’ demands changing?

The landscape of our work is changing. Clients are getting bolder and are taking purposeful stances. In addition, the market dynamic has changed as we sit on the brink of a fragile economic scenario. But a challenge like this is what breeds refreshing ideas. To quote an example from some our most recent work, McDonald’s ‘Happy Swings’ delivered a brand promise and became the talk of the town without all the bells and whistles expected from a huge production.

What does 2023 look like ?

2023 is undoubtedly the year for the region. The region presents us with huge opportunities to tap into especially with KSA. The current leadership is reinventing the perception about the country and is opening its doors to everyone. For all of our clients, this is ‘the’ region and as more headline projects start to take shape, I can only assume that it will continue to grow.

Campaign Middle East celebrated the best minds in advertising, marketing and media at the Agency of the Year Middle East awards 2022. View all the winners here.

Campaign also runs Agency of the Year in the UK, Asia-Pacific and the US, and a global scheme, the Global Agency of the Year Awards, which is now open for entries.