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 Shauna Judith Irani, Senior Copywriter at Ogilvy Mumbai.
Irani didn’t always plan on a career in advertising, in fact, for a time she thought she’d end up as a psychologist. Yet at 18, she took a job at a production house and everything changed. “Pretty soon I started living a double life – I’d finish college and run to Mumbai’s Famous Studios, where I learned the intricacies of ad filmmaking,” she said.
Name: Shauna Judith Irani
Agency: Ogilvy Mumbai
Position: Senior Copywriter
Current Location: Mumbai
Education: Master of Arts – English – University of Mumbai, 2019, Bachelor of Arts – English – St. Xavier’s College Mumbai – 2016.
How did you get your first break in the industry?
When I was in high school, I thought I’d spend my days as an industrial psychologist. But a chance gig at a production house at the age of 18 inspired me to step into the world of advertising.
Pretty soon I started living a double life – I’d finish college and run to Mumbai’s Famous Studios, where I learned the intricacies of ad filmmaking. I was hooked. Within a week of graduating, I landed an internship at Havas Mumbai, and a month later, a permanent role at FCB India, where I had colleagues that are still like family to me.
What is your personal mantra?
‘If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.’ I read that in A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was in school, but it came back to me in my first year of advertising. The search for perfection can sometimes be more of an impediment than an advantage, and it’s something creative people are often guilty of.
I’m no exception. The truth is – an idea that’s imperfect but out there in the world is better than one laying silent in your head.
From what person, place or thing have you drawn your greatest creative inspiration?
During a brainstorming session, my former boss caught me staring blankly at the office walls and pointed out to me that nothing worth writing about was within the four corners of the office. I’d have a greater chance of figuring out a meaningful insight on the train journey home, or at a music concert.
Mark Pollard (Strategist, The Mighty Jungle) talks about an insight being a deep human truth. When I’m looking for an idea, I turn to my old psychology textbooks, to the people I pass by every day, to the plays being staged in the local theatre, to the timeless songwriting of Bruce Springsteen. There’s truth there.
What do you love about the job?
Advertising can hardly be classified as a single job. One moment you’re writing in iambic pentameter for a car, the next you’re in a client’s office belting out a song about a painkiller (I’ve done both). It takes wearing a lot of hats but is often joyous and unpredictable.
It’s no wonder that this profession is a magnet for those who like a little bit of everything. And there’s the big bonus – you’re constantly surrounded by people who are creatively driven, often eccentric, but always interesting.
What about your job are you not so crazy about?
The hours. Advertising is often regarded as a round-the-clock job. I’m fortunate to be associated with a company where this isn’t the norm, so a work-life balance is a possibility. Ironically though, time off for other pursuits only promotes creativity, so I wish this was more of an industry practice.
What is some work you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be crowned the winner of the Kinsale Young Shark Award Contest. The brief was to keep creativity and the competitive spirit alive during the pandemic. My solution was a direct mailer disguised as a Covid Rapid Test Kit, inviting creatives to the ‘real test’ of 2020 – the Shark Awards.
At a time when most festivals were being canceled, simply participating in the Young Shark Awards was a unique pleasure. To have been selected as the winner was a complete and utter joy.
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
Being a copywriter has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Words are my whole world. During the pandemic, I signed up for the Orton-Gillingham training course, a technique to teach individuals with dyslexia and other learning disabilities how to read and process words. Since words have been so meaningful to my life, I would hope to help others find meaning in them.