Pick any advertising professional and ask them who their inspiration is. The answer you are bound to get will be “Piyush Pandey.” The Ogilvy veteran and his moustache have pretty much shaped the face of advertising in India. From Cadbury to Fevicol to Asian Paints and a million other campaigns, Piyush Pandey’s career is a masterclass for those setting foot in the Advertising and Marketing industry. 

In all these years, no one has really been able to reach the stature of this advertising stalwart. But a conversation did begin that seems to crown a new marketeer as the next Piyush Pandey. A marketing genius with the Midas touch where everything he touches turns into a streak of gold, hit ads. Producing hit campaigns one after another consistently is no easy feat but Tanmay Bhat and his agency Moonshot are hitting it out of the park with every project.

Tanmay Bhat Piyush Pandey Devaiah Bopanna Moonshot agency advertising marketing comparison debate

Storyboard18 posted an article yesterday titled “Advertising’s new creative King kaun: Can Tanmay Bhat be the next Piyush Pandey?” The piece highlighted Tanmay and his agency’s work, how they made a name for themselves in a short span of time, and why brands are clamouring for them today. The answer came to be “virality“. And while Tanmay’s immense popularity and growing influence in ad circles is noteworthy, many advertisers scoff at Bhat’s comparison to the legendary Piyush Pandey.

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The Comparison

Tanmay Bhat’s meteoric rise in the creative world is undeniable. Brands, especially startups, have been throwing their marketing money at him and Moonshot. While we have seen many iconic ads and ad makers in this industry deliver some masterpieces, very few have consistently struck gold – the likes of Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Joshi. Tanmay’s agency seems to have gotten that in their pocket, which probably led to this comparison.

This article has, as expected, created a huge stir in the ad industry. Praise and panic are pouring in from all quarters of the creative community.

The Mixed Reactions

Brands go to Tanmay because they realise that this guy delivers hits. He was a stand-up comedian first and a bloody good stand-up comedian he is. So he obviously understands humour better than anyone else in advertising. At a time when agencies are walking away from creativity, there’s this guy who’s just winning everything on the basis of his creativity,” said Bobby Pawar, former chairman and CCO, Havas India.

The founder of Kommune India, Roshan Abbas was also all praise for the influencer-ad maker. He said “Tanmay Bhat is the poster boy of pop culture. He dives deep into data and has his ear to the ground. The company he keeps is mostly of creators or CEO’s. So ideas and idea buyers surround him. Humour cuts across all audiences and with that being his silver bullet he is slaying all the demons of traditional advertising.

The comparison with Piyush is very premature. The legend of Piyush wasn’t created in a year or even a decade. It wasn’t created by one famous one campaign or three. It is his amazing body of work over an amazingly long period of time. So let’s not go skinny dipping with Tanmay in the pool that belongs to legends. The time to maybe have this discussion if he continues to be on this roll for another five to ten years,” added Pawar.

Tanmay Bhat Piyush Pandey advertising marketing comparison debate

A LinkedIn user commented, “Long shot. Tanmay knows the pulse of what is trending and what gets the conversations started but there is a difference between moving top of mind and topline 🙂 What would be interesting is a Collab of the two….that will indeed be an amazing moonshot :)” Another sarcastically asked, “Is this a clickbait?

Comparing Piyush Pandey with Tanmay Bhat is like comparing Bruce Lee and Tiger Shroff. One is a legend and a revolutionary while the other is a guy who’s marginally ahead of the curve. Calm down…Tanmay isn’t redefining anything…he’s just figured out a format of shock and awe that’s working for Gen Z” wrote another.

Tanmay’s Take

Responding to this ad world chatter, Tanmay said “A comparison between me – an absolute newcomer, and a legend like Piyush is absolutely unfair. I studied advertising in college and folks like Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Joshi were stalwarts who inspired me to be a part of advertising in the first place.” Bhat feels that his career in the world of advertising is just beginning.

“I’m just very very lucky on two fronts: I get to work with some very very gutsy founders and brands. And secondly I have an extremely talented team – Puneet Chadha, Deep Joshi and Vishal Dayama have been working with me and Devaiah Bopanna for almost a decade now, and honestly they do most of the heavy lifting” he added. Tanmay concluded by saying that since his name gets the clicks, he ends up being given credit for their work. But it’s always a team effort.

Tanmay & Moonshot’s Stellar Work

What is it about Moonshot? Well, watching their ads is basically like watching the intrusive thoughts of the masses come to life. The agency worked on a dozen ad campaigns for popular brands that turned absolutely viral. But their claim to fame moment was through the series of CRED ads that broke the internet.

Who could have imagined watching the ‘gunda avatar‘ of Rahul Dravid or Kapil Dev being Ranveer Singh for a day or Neeraj Chopra imitating the media? They did THAT. And they didn’t stop at that. The crazy idea of placing celebrities in offbeat situations continued through their campaigns to follow which made them a favourite amongst the masses.

From IPL campaigns for Disney+ Hotstar and Smallcase featuring SRK and MS Dhoni to the Lenskart ads with Karan Johar and Peyush Bansal, to seeing chess grandmaster Viswanathan Anand sweating for Subway, they know how to make an impact on the audience in a short frame of time. The most recent parody on Indian TV soaps for BoldCare, featuring Ranveer Singh and Johnny Sins, further adds to their marketing prowess.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this comparison between Tanmay Bhat and Piyush Pandey? While Tanmay and his agency might be paving the way for new age marketing brilliantly well, is it fair to compare that to a stalwart of Indian advertising who has created an unparalleled legacy in the field? Let us know in the comments