One Under 30: Young Creative Spotlight – Karan Nair

Highlighting young talent in the ad world
— one person at a time.

As part of an ongoing series highlighting young talent in the industry, Branding in Asia brings you “One Under 30” – a special feature that focuses on up-and-coming talent in the ad world, one person at a time.

This week we highlight Karan Nair, Associate Creative Director from BBDO India.

If Karan had to choose another career path, he’d have become a therapist. “For me, advertising has only reinforced the power of each person’s story. As a therapist, I would have enjoyed working with people to validate experiences on a more personal level.”


The Basics

Name: Karan Nair
Age: 29
Agency: BBDO India
Position: Associate Creative Director
Hometown: Kerala, India 
Current Location: Mumbai, India 
Education: Madras Christian College (University of Madras), B.Sc Visual Communication, 2012 

Seven Questions

How did you get your first break in the industry?

After high school, I decided to say yes to every creative opportunity that came my way. By the time I was in my senior year at university, I had worked in over 30 different theater productions, acted in a national award-winning feature film and was touring the country as the front man of a popular rock band.

I met my first advertising mentor at a cast party for a theater production. I told him no full-time job could possibly offer me the creative satisfaction I was looking for. He saw this as a challenge and asked me if I was interested in working as a trainee writer. To keep up with my “yes” philosophy, I joined a week later and never looked back.


What is your personal mantra?

I believe indifferent people are the most dangerous in this world. In this political climate, indifference is not something we can afford. My personal mantra is to use every drop of creativity to demolish indifference and make way for empathetic conversation.

From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?

There is no closet in the universe that can accommodate the number of hats my mother wears. Apart from being an educator for children with special needs, an art teacher, a costume designer, and a make-up artist, she is at her most creative playing a single mother to her three sons. The way she navigates life continues to inspire me without pause.

What do you love about the job?

I love having my thinking challenged and this job facilitates that every single day. I have the opportunity to jog in the shoes of different people from different walks of life while learning new things about myself along the way.

Apart from that, I also love it when my work makes its way back to me on a family WhatsApp group as a ‘have you seen this yet’ forward.

What about your job are you not so crazy about?

It disturbs me when creative ideas are censored before taking shape. This happens especially in the case of advertising that propels social change. We need to be able to talk about difficult subjects and challenge social evils through our partnerships. If the work is shelved before we can have a nuanced conversation about it, it is an opportunity for learning that is lost forever.

What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

I’m privileged to have worked with an incredible team on Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign over the last 5 years. I’m especially proud of our campaign Ariel #ShareTheLoad for Equal Sleep.

The film aimed to shed light on how women get less sleep due to the unequal division of household chores. The film revealed that a staggering 71% of women in India sleep lesser than men owing to this divide.

The film garnered over 200 million views across TV and digital. The campaign received over 9 million dollars in earned media.

If you had to choose another career what would it be?

I would love to be a therapist. For me, advertising has only reinforced the power of each person’s story. As a therapist, I would have enjoyed working with people to validate experiences on a more personal level.

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