A Spoonful of Magic w/ Dhiya Choudary
Brand-Side
Brand-Side

Episode · 1 year ago

A Spoonful of Magic w/ Dhiya Choudary

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

“Making room for everybody doesn’t mean taking room away from anybody.” – Dhiya Choudary.

Dhiya is a Creative Director at Magic Spoon that is disrupting the cereal industry. Here’s what we discussed:

  • Dhiya’s advertising career and a few of her favorite campaigns to work on
  • What it’s like to move from agency life to the brand-side
  • Differences between in-house and agency pitches
  • The building blocks of a strong brief
  • A day in the life of Magic Spoon
  • Tips for working remotely
  • Scaling digital content as a DTC (Direct to Consumer) company
  • How to capitalize on UGC (user-generated content)
  • How to navigate industry diversification

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Welcome to brand side, a new podcast by Celtra where we interview marketing creative operations and design meters to find out what life is like in house, first agency side and how big creative ideas come to life at the world's best brands. This is brand side by Sultra. Welcome back to brandside. It is your host, Christine here again, and today we are discussing all things creative and breakfast cereal with Da Chowdry. She is the creative director over at magic spoon. Welcome. I'm so happy that you're here. I'm so, so glad to be here. Thanks for having me. So yeah, so right now you're on the brand side, but before going over you work for some really heavy hitting agencies. You were at r Gare hundred and sixty I publicist. So tell me a little bit about your career in advertising. Yeah, so I've always loved art and I've always loved storytelling. I would make up a lot of stories when I was younger and I would be involved in theater productions and making the props and directing and writing and all of that stuff, and I think the idea that I could combine all of these things into like an adult job and get paid for it was very exciting to me. I went to college for Visual Communication, where I touched on a little bit of everything. That led me to an internship at Ogilby in my city, where I was like yeah, this is great, I would love to keep doing this. And from then on I went to my me at school and from my meat cool graduated in New York, went to a bunch of internships at two hundred and sixty, I, mry, Sachi and Sauchi, and then I went to my first real job at Urda. That was super exciting. I was part of a campaign pool where they were trying to have US pitch ideas to existing clients. They were having US pitch campaign ideas to existing digital clients, and so it was kind of like make believe, like it felt like I was still in school where I'm coming up with these crazy cool ideas for briefs that don't exist, and that was just so much fun. I was like I'm still in concepting class where I just get to come up with ideas with no sense of reality, and and so the the that was really cool. I loved it, but the downside of it was that I kind of left it without any real work to show for it. No produced work and I felt like, oh, everybody else at this point has produced work and I don't, and so that was a bit of a bummer to me, but I loved the experience that I had there and from then on I went to publicist Middle East in Dubai, which is not something that I ever thought would happen, but my visa got rejected and as it happens, and I was like, I've had experience in Indiana, I've had experience in the US, it would be lovely, lovely to go to a totally different market and try something else out, and so I went there and it was really great. We worked on this really exciting campaign for Chrysler where we turned a car into a musical instrument, and that campaign did very well at all the regional award shows. One A ton of words got nominated a can and it was just really exciting. Remember that actually from my days in advertising as well. That yeah, I was re super to be part of that campaign and I think it was. It was like a part of my life where I was very invested in the award shows and working crazy, insane hours then doing all of the award process and all of that. It was a crazy time and very exciting for sure. And so yeah, we're where did you go from there? I went from there back back to the US to go to barbarian got back here on a different visa and I did totally do something totally different here, where I led social media for pepsy for a couple of years. So a bit of a shift there in froms of the type of work that I was doing. Still the same, but my focus is more heavy on our direction, and I think that was something that I that I value...

...so much because it made me stop and think about, like would do I actually enjoy doing in my work and what makes me really happy versus what I thought I was supposed to do or what we had glorified when I was younger, and I'm speaking just for myself and like my perception obviously, but like the idea that I had when I first started of like what am I supposed to be doing, like what type of job of my supposed to have? An advertising and there's like, you know, the flashy TV spots and like the type of agency where you're like working weekends and late nights and like all of that is sort of like glorified all together as like a single package. I feel like, and maybe it took me a couple of years to feel like, oh, that's not that's cool, like some of that stuff is cool and I love that's type of work, but it's not the only kind of work I want to be doing or the only type of place where I want to be doing it. So that, yeah, that I think that helped me kind of shifts the perspective in my head a bit. Yeah, I think that's a journey that a lot of us creatives that specially start on the agency side go through. It's the awards frenzy and the you know, sort of big ego campaigns and getting getting those presses, and then, as you mature, you start seeing the other side of it, you see start seeing the sort of the business critical components that actually help your clients grow and I could imagine like for you especially, like running something as big as as Pepsi's Social Media Really prepped you for the brand side as well. So tell me a little bit about that shift, like going from the agency world to the brand side, like what made what made you take the jump? Yeah, I think honestly, it was burned out. To be totally honest, I was a little burned out from all the awards stuff and I think I started to feel like you're in a bit of a bubble, like you're you're making work that is from, you know, very specific briefs, that's trying to win awards or or trying to be flashy or you know, and a lot of times I think I started to feel like I was being pigeonholed in the type of work that I was doing, even the feeling that I don't really have ownership over a lot of the projects that I'm working on, because I think at some of the big agencies you can, you can play a very specific role where you play it very well, but like that is the only aspect that you'll ever touch. Once you know you've pitched an idea, you've won the campaign, you will be handing off designed to somebody else and you know it turns into something totally different and then you see it a couple months later and you're like, Oh, yeah, I worked on that, but like I wish I was part of the whole thing or like I'd seen how it evolved. It's not so much like an ego, like I want to be involved in every process. It's more just seeing that evolution. I think would be really nice and maybe that is the egoistic goal. I don't know, I don't know. I think it's like it's about like personal fulfillment, right, like we know, we love our own ideas and we want to see them grow and go out there in the world. So what was the first company that you worked at over on the brand side? Yeah, it was starry Internet. I found them when I took a break and I was freelancing at a bunch of different agencies trying to figure out what I wanted next, because I was feeling confused, and I found starry. They're a very cool, very different Internet service provider. They offer one plan at a flat fifty dollar a month, no contracts, no hidden fees. The speed that they promise you is always the same. It doesn't change. So this makes it very different from everybody else that you would know, and so I thought that in itself was very exciting to me, and the idea of working at an internet company where the art direction can be pretty much anything, was very exciting. And just the fact that I'd be able to own more and contribute more in a way and be more involved in the business in a meaningful way felt very exciting to me and so, yeah, that's what I did and that was really one of the best positions I've ever made. Yeah, I really love stories whole look. Feel they have a really unique voice and really playful personality. So what's your favorite campaign or piece of work that you did over at a sorry, yeah, we did this super simple out of home campaign called Hello, story Internet, and it just talks about all the...

...ways, all the frustrations that people have with the other service providers and calls it out and says goodbye whatever it is like, you know, speeds that change all the time, and then it says hello, story Internet. So I really enjoyed it's such a simple format, but I really enjoyed writing for that and I enjoyed concepting on that and the art direction was such a blast because this was like before gradients took over, took over the everything. Well, it was like right before that happened and I was like, Oh, this is so new and this is so fun and how do we figure out a way to make it feel like it's not in the studio but still have all these spots around that are bright and colorful, and so there were a few challenges that we were trying tool and we worked with these photographer, do you a call a Lumpchabot, based in Montreal, who I love working with and they're so incredibly talented and it was just such a fun process. We built all these crazy props. We built this four persons sweater that would fit a whole family in there, though, we're just you're all connected to the Internet at the same time. And then there was this other treaty character that we built out of actual wood and it was made to look like a pixelated person and it would it's like to show what it would feel like when you're talking to somebody on facetime and they're pixelated. I love that. I love that and I think that, you know, you obviously have sold quite a few ideas in house now. So how do you what's the difference between selling ideas in house versus selling to a client at an agency? I think it's quite different and of course, like this would vary from client to client, but I think when you're in house it feels like we're all in the same team, we're all lined we have single purpose. You have a lot of smart people in the room that all trying to solve the same problem, and so it comes from a place of like problem solving and working together versus agency side. I think when you're selling an idea to a client, sometimes you don't have full context and why you're making something or what what it's supposed to become, or even like the idea of what the brand should evolve into. Sometimes they can be a little bit of a disconnect there of how the brand imagines it versus the agency imagines it, and so I think, yeah, those are my big differences. When we connected previously, we spend a little bit of time talking about briefing and the importance of having a good brief on the brand side. What do you think makes for a good one? I think just being clear on what the problem we're trying to solve this. It sounds so simple, but it really is just that, like what are we doing and why are we doing it? I think just having that answer and also being very organized internally in terms of this is our timeline, this is our budget, this is what we're trying to make like those are very very simple, basic things and I think those just make all the difference I think a lot of the times, you know, I in a way also work on the brand side for a tech company and I see that so many times where you know, we're so close to it's it's sometimes where like all right, we know what the problem is like, we know what we need to do, but there's actually so much value in sitting down and turning that into a document where you can see the big picture. So I completely agree. And so now from sorry, you went on to work at Magic Spoon, which is a serial disruptor. Am I am I correct to call it that? Yeah, breakfast disruptor. I would say. We're high protein, low CARB, very delicious cereal that tastes just like the circial that you remember from my childhood, but it's got all the good stuff. It's got actual and nutritional value to it, which is yeah, yeah, I love the the the cinnamon one that you guys have obsessed with it. In addition to like having a great product, you guys also have a really playful and cool and quirky brand. So what's your day to day like a magic spoon? What are you doing these days? Yeah, I mean as soon as I saw the brand I was like yeah, like this is where I'm supposed to go.

This feels so perfect for me. I love the esthetic, I love the playfulness of the brand and I also love that everybody that works on the team is so clear on what we're doing and we're so aligned. It's great daytoday really varies. A lot of it is trying to figure out how we grow from where we are and how that esthetic grows visually, how to package and grow, and also finessing what we have and getting to a place where we're feeling more established as a brand as that happens. Also the usual day to day stuff of working on new flavors, because we're always launching your flavors. We love working with a variety of different artists and part of what I've been doing here is trying to diversify from where we're here and find new styles, new tests of artists to work with. So all of that has been really, really fun. So now that we're all remote, you have your artists, you have your team members and we're all stuck at home, how are you making remote collaboration happen? We are such a small team. We're only twenty people total and our creative team is currently only two people. So we're very tiny and I think I thought it was going to be a hard transition moving jobs in the middle of the pandemic, because I won't eve been here five months now, and we've also hired so many people in the last few weeks. We've grown rapidly, but we've kind of it's been incredible, honestly. It's been so great and I think a lot of that just comes from hiring really great people. We are extremely slow when we come to hid. When it comes to hiring, we take a ton of time and it's not something that was ever mandated, but I feel like anybody who's made hiring decisions in house is somehow ended up being the same way, where they're like, no, we want to make sure this person is perfect, because we love everybody that works here so much already. We want to make sure anybody knew that we bring into the fold feels like a really great fit, and so I think just having really great, smart people already helps and we've been pretty good about fostering community. We do like just these coffee breaks once a week where we all chat, and just having these intimate dinners where we get tested and just have dinner with a couple other people and see and have some in person time and just, I think, checking in with your team members and being mindful of how things are and the current state of the world and being, yeah, Compassionate. That way, it's a it's so exciting to see you guys grow and like, hopefully in like a year, a couple of years time, it's going to be exciting for me to also look back at this conversation and see where you were and where you're going to. And so one of the topics that I often discussed with high growth do to see companies is this demand for constant digital content and creative. We know that creative is one of the most important levers in both growing your brand but then also also growing performance and man maintain performance on the paid side. How do you overcome that gap between like your production resources and then where your content needs to be in terms of volume? Absolutely so we use a lot of user generated content. It's been a big part for us because we organically get tagged in a lot of content by people, which is really great. I think. I guess people love us, which is nice, and also organically people love seeing content that feels more realistic. That's coming from real people versus something that feels very polished and feels like an odd like a clearly this is an add and again, whether you know, it's just our organic content that we use text overlays on or change up the messaging on. Maybe we animate the ascid a little bit and change it up. That allows us to take the same acid and then use it in a variety of different ways, even by changing out like the first second or two seconds, gets us a lot of difference in performance, which is really cool, and shout out to our amazing growth and retention team for testing all of that out and learning from that. That's like one of the tactics that I'm hearing a lot of performance surman brands adopt.

This are these like small, incremental changes that you adopt at a modular pace, and that way you can actually scale your content by quite a lot in the end without having to come up with completely new design and that great of concepts shifting gears a little bit. One of the conversations that we had when we were prepping for this interview and that I find incredibly important, is is the topic of diversity. I saw that on your linkedin you're actually linking to a pool of divers talent for recruiters that are checking out your profile. So how can we actually make a difference in our industry? Yeah, I can't take credit for that. So they're called linked black, which is an effort by somebody that I knew from my me out school. Basically, the idea is, if you are in a position where you have our you have people come look at your portfolio or look at your profile, whether it's recruiters or you know, other other other talent, to allow for visibility of people of Color Black People in general that are in the creative industry. That's a good way to shine a light on somebody else who may not have the same opportunity as you. You know, that's that's so important and kind of you know, I'm sure we'd had similar experiences in the industry, as you know, as women. Obviously everyone's everyone's path there is is unique. But you know, when I got started a decade ago, there were no female leaders for me to look up to, let alone like leaders of like you know, people of Color or differ. Yeah, background. So so what do you think still needs to be done on that end? I feel exactly the same way when I first started, I I just never saw anybody that look like me, whether it's a woman or whether it's a person of color, or even from the point of view of like my personality, because I'm more of an introverted person, and I think there is a certain type of person that you see again and again in leadership roles who are allowed whore. You know the type that I mean, and I yeah, I had internalized at some point that I needed to be that type of person to be a leader and I didn't want to be a leader at one point because I thought being a leader meant that have to be that way. And Yeah, it took me a while to realize like no, I'm already doing a lot of these things, I'm just doing them in a different way, and so I think recognizing that was surprisingly hard and then once I did, I was like okay, so I'm not going to let these things bother me anymore. I'm just going to continue doing things my way and hopefully that'll help somebody else who's kind of like me. So yeah, and in terms of just things changing, I think I think racial equity is so important. Hiring people of Color in leadership positions, not just entry level positions or as a diversity higher is very because you can't just hire one person of color and expect them to make all the difference for you. You need, you know, people in positions where they're able to make a meaningful change and they need to be in surrounded by other people who are also a part of that process, and so I think having that mindset is really important. Yeah, and I think also, like, in addition to that, there needs to be a clear path to leadership roles for those more entry level level, midlevel positions. So I think companies really need to spend time of also thinking about how can they actually promote those career paths within those organizations. And you know what you said about, you know, just making diversity highres that you can like that are prball. I think that's also something that our industry really needs to take a hard look at, you know, recruiters and and hiring managers, you know, really looking at the balance between finding talent that is diverse and giving opportunity to people that don't look like your typical creative industry leader, but then also making sure that you're not just hiring to make somebody a sort of a shiny new thing you can send to at you know. Yeah, you also need to create an environment where they feel comfortable and they feel safe speaking up when something is not going correctly, whether it is pointing out that something feels racist or something,...

...you know, insensitive. Those are positions that are very, very hard to have and I think putting that pressure on just two people of clever work with you or really is not it's not the way to go. It needs to be an open discussion that happens, where everybody feels comfortable speaking up. It just creates a better environment for everyone. Yeah, and I still feel like there's this expectation off whenever. You know, if we think about our industry, the the typical leader is is white and male, and so then everything else is other, and and and for this other there is a completely different standard that they are being held to. You know, you have to be perfect, you have to have ten times better track record compared to the men you can make. You can't kind of motion in your emails exactly like you're there's, you know, at work. Yeah, yeah, what again, like we're expecting those people to act like that one way of leadership that you already touched upon. So it's it's like it's about culture, it's about these like sort of like long term ways of thinking and not just like bringing people in and then they're facing like microaggressions. Yeah, I read something interesting recently about how when women are faced with a question that starts with hey, guys, they tend not to respond. And it makes sense, HMM, and that's something that I've been thinking about so much because I also use just guys. It's like a new tway too. Yeah, but it's like not a neutral trom thow H I. It's I'm not a guy. Yeah, I think you know. And it's like when I actively shift that in my head and I say hey girls or like, you know, hey ladies or something like that, it feels so different. It does confusing. I'm like what I'm being addressed? I know there's like this with this conversation. There's like so many things that you also have to rethink as a contributor in this industry, just because, you know where we'd been so conditioned to work in a certain way, respond, behave in certain way and accept certain types of behavior that really it's going to take a while to dectle all of that. I feel like things have already gotten a lot better from my personal experience. I know, like I'm sure you've heard of the term boys club in advertising. It's like a phenomenon that unfortunately that and I understand why it existed, but I think things are getting to a place where I've felt incredibly supported by, you know, the friends that I have in the industry, R feme that WED each other. We listen to each other. We're very open to each other about how much we make you know what, like things that you would normally not talk like. These things need to be talked about because we it's the only way we can like help each other out, and so I really value having that community and that a sense of openness and honesty great to have and hopefully we'll see more of it. Yeah, absolutely, and I think one last kind of point on this, is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately, is also how do we involve the you know that, so the people who have benefited from this structure. So let's think about like white men, who, a lot of them, are feeling very, you know, scared and fragile right now. Will anybody ever hire me again because I'm not the profile that this company would like to promote. So I think we also need to find a way to include them in the conversation and kind of, you know, say that there actually is room at the table for everybody. Making room for everybody doesn't mean taking room away from anybody. Yeah, yeah, but I think like some recruiting departments are doing a little bit of that, where they're just kind of like, like, we just need to find a higher that looks good pr wise and that's the end of the story. So, but it was always the same, but opposite, though exactly. It was in reverse where, yeah, and sounded Muslim, you couldn't get a job. Yeah, you know, if you had an ethnic, sounded sounding name, you would have opportunity. Or if you come from a different country, like I do, and you do, yes, perfect English, you were unlikely to get a job working in writing or like.

There's a lot of factors, though. Absolutely, Yea. Yeah, yeah, if you're Sir Right, that I'm on a visa has been a factor where it's the thing that I have to think about and I feel like, Oh my God, I old this company something because they hired me, but like no, I deserve this job because I got it. It has nothing like the my visa, that it's is nothing to do with anything else. Yeah, exactly. I'm I came in the US on a visa as well, but I had to tell so many people or explain my, you know, writing capabilities as a copywriter. So I completely understand there's like a lot of work needs to be done, but I feel like we're already in a better place than what we were like just a couple of years ago. This has been such a fantastic conversation. So for everyone who wants to find you, two things. Where can they connect with you and where can they buy this amazing serial? Great questions. You can find me on Linkedin if you just google my name. I'm also on instagram. I'm at traveling chair. That's to else colonial spelling. And then I'm also a mentor with this collective called thirdee collective. It's a group of Saltasian professionals that are helping make room for other Salt Asian creatives and to help nurture talent. So if you are a salt Asian creative and you want to join as a member, you can do that and you can book mentorship sessions with a variety of different really talented people in the industry, which is great, just in the creative industry, not just advertising, and also for any creative for color. If you want any kind of help that I can offer, I would love for you to reach out. You can just email me, first name, last name, at Gmail, which is DA childre at gmailcom. That's so fantastic. Thank you so much. This was a great conversation and good luck with your NIMRODIC launches. Well, I forgot to mention magic spoon. If you just google magic spoon are you go to Maddispooncom. You can buy our cereal there. I'll definitely keep an eye up for those new products. I want to try them. Yes, I'm so excited. Can't wait. Great. Thank you, Dia. Thank you so much. This is so great. You've been listening to brand side. If you like what you heard, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about creative production automation, is IT SELTRACOM? Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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