“Just Do It!” | Sunday Observer

“Just Do It!”

17 January, 2021

Just last week, Nike released a promotional ad campaign in Vietnam featuring Sri Lanka’s very own Lasith Malinga, along with sports legends like Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and Christiano Ronaldo on the iconic Nike Swoosh. Created by Vietnam based Sri Lankan designer Chandu Rajapreyar, this campaign and its creation was a proud moment for many Sri Lankans. In an interview with the creator himself, Chandu explained to us the creative process behind it and some personal history of his career as a Creative Director.

Q: How would you describe this project? What was it promoting?

A: It’s a project for the 50th year celebration of the Nike Swoosh logo since 1971 and to celebrate the JUST DO IT philosophy of different sportsmen and sportswomen with unique maverick abilities.

Q: Did you have any specific message to convey with your design?

A: The most difficult sport moves are the ones that are made in a curved, swoosh motion… Be it the bending shots in football, swing balls in cricket, slicing shots with a spin in tennis or any sport.

There are very few who have mastered these maverick moves in sports and they JUST DID IT. But what it leaves is a generation that comes after in their respective sports and better it with their hard work. This project is in celebration of those sportsmen and sportswomen who perform to that JUST DO IT philosophy.

Q: Was there any special reason for you to choose these specific athletes over others?

A: Well, there are specific reasons, and they are their own uniqueness that they bring to each sport. We just looked at the different sports and signature moves of those sports and tried to incorporate the people and their moves in our designs. We have done one for each sport and specific to different countries and the stars as well. All waiting to see the light of day, if it gets released as a global campaign.

Q: How long have you been working in Vietnam?What exactly is your role there?

A: Well, it is almost two years. I am an Art based Creative Director. This is a job where roles keep changing from job to job everyday…

The role you play on big brands to smaller brands are very different. But I am happy that I have been able to roll up my sleeves, get my hands dirty and play very different roles in my job… here and even when I was working in Sri Lanka.

This makes my job more interesting. Makes me look forward to waking up every day to something different.

Q: As a Creative Director, what kind of involvement did it entail in the creation of this campaign?

A: Specific to this project, ideation and art direction is where I have played a significant role. Even though I am a Creative Director now… I was an Art Director 19 years back… Positions don’t change the work we do in advertising. Once an Art Director always an Art Director… I never let go of my art direction skills even though I rose in rank in the industry in 20 years.

Q: What has your history with design and advertising been like before Vietnam?

A: I have done a lot of work in Sri Lanka in my 20 years of being in advertising.

Two years back, I was a Vice President and Executive Creative Director with MullenLowe Sri Lanka working on many big brands. There are many things that I have designed in Sri Lanka which are still there alive as logos for brands, some as messages for some big brands and what they stand for today in people’s minds. I have also won a lot of awards for the work I have created in my 20 years in Sri Lanka.

Q: What other high profile promotional campaigns have you been a part of?

A: Well, answering this question makes it look like some brands are bigger than other brands. But there is much significant work I have done while I was in Sri Lanka in 20 years. The last significant one was LEDA LEDA for Soft Logic done in 2018. Currently, I’m working on brands like Heineken, Tiger and Samsung and there is a lot of work in the pipeline which I can’t discuss till it comes out.

Q: How has the reception to this been relative to other ad campaigns you’ve been involved with?

A: This is the best response I have got in my 20 years of working for different people from all over the world. We work in a very subjective industry with highly opinionated individuals, so I am really surprised that pretty much everyone loves it. I am humbled by the response and happy that this idea found us and not anyone else in this 50-year existence of the swoosh logo. But personally, I believe there is always something that could be bettered. We are doing those small changes on the other pieces.

Q: What makes a successful promotional campaign?

A: There are many things, but the start of it all would be an open-minded client who wants to do something significantly different to stand out of the clutter. In my honest opinion… that kind of client also would need an agency or a team that shares the same passion. It takes two to tango.

Q: How would you describe your approach to design? Are you a perfectionist?

A: Design is just design. But when design is done with an idea it makes a world of difference in how people absorb it and what it communicates. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to thinking. But I try to be a perfectionist when it comes to execution. Somehow, this word seems to have less value in today’s context because many don’t think it’s a progressive word any more in this fast-paced world.

Q: What kind advice do you have for anyone looking to get into advertising or design?

A: If you can work harder than the most hardworking then you will shine, if you want to be more knowledgeable than a lot of smart people, if you want to see your beautiful thinking preached, If you want your amazing talents to be seen by millions and finally, if you want to wake up every day and do something different from the previous day.

Then, this will be a great career option. But please remember, some make it early some make it late in this industry, but the joy is the same and it is also something that cannot be compared with anything else.