Staff Reporters
Apr 18, 2024

Creative Minds: Himanish Ashar on trolling people on the Internet and his love for music

Leo Burnett's Himanish Ashar shares how he spent his younger days creating fake news and chasing his favourite band around Europe.

Creative Minds: Himanish Ashar on trolling people on the Internet and his love for music
In Creative Minds, we ask APAC creatives a long list of questions, from serious to silly, and ask them to pick 11 to answer. (Why 11? Just because.) Want to be featured?
Name: Himanish Ashar
Origin: Mumbai, India
Places lived/worked: Mumbai, New York City
Pronouns: He/Him
  • Senior creative director, Apollo 11 (Innovation Lab)/ Leo Burnett Mumbai, (2022-present)
  • Creative director, Apollo 11 (Innovation Lab) / Leo Burnett Mumbai, (2019-2022)
  • Creative strategist, Apollo 11 (Innovation Lab) Leo Burnett Mumbai, (2016-2019)
  • Creative, Leo Burnett, Mumbai, (2015-2016)
  • Creative intern, Ogilvy, New York, (2015)
  • Creative intern, J. Walter Thompson, New York, (2015)
1. How did you end up being a creative?
I was born in Mumbai, but raised on the Internet. I spent most of my 20s trolling a million followers on my Facebook page with FakeNews, long before Trump even popularised the term, by the way. I wanted to take that to the next level; so in ad school, my art director, a coder and I executed one of the most viral stunts of the last decade involving a Bollywood superstar, a political party, 4.5 crore impressions and a few death threats along the way. Other than that, maybe a ninja. 

2. What's your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?

The piece that stands out after all these years is still Roads That Honk - the world’s first anti-collision vehicle management system for dangerous hairpin bends. India, unfortunately, ranks high on the list of countries with the most significant number of road accidents.

Most of these accidents are reported on mountain roads and highways in a bid to minimise fatal accidents on these difficult terrains. Our team innovated Smart Poles to help indicate speeding drivers on sharp hairpin bends to slow down by honking. 

3. What's your favourite piece of work created by someone else?

While W&K are known primarily for their groundbreaking work on one of the world’s biggest sports brands, I have been following one of their accounts closely for almost over a decade. As an avid gamer myself, Supercell’s Clash From The Past isn’t just revolutionary, it’s a deep-dive into the mindset of every gamer out there. It’s relatable, cheeky and effortlessly brave. 

4. What/who are your key creative influences?

I’ve always learnt a lot through sport. Like how when the team’s down, all it takes is a strategic change to help the finish. Or how solo players are the most vital during pitch presentations. You win, or lose - the team’s always together. In my eyes, everyone has a footballing role in advertising 

5. What kind of student were you?

I’ve always been a backbencher. But when Miami Ad School came around, I found my calling. I would never try to be the best, but instead, try and make an impression. If I had the worst idea in class, I’d nail the presentation. If I didn’t know the answer, I’d made the class laugh. Advertising felt like a natural calling. Even nine years in, I still consider myself a student to the industry. 

6. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Remember when the Mayans deemed us all dead over a decade ago? December 21, 2012 to be precise. Well, I couldn’t take the chance, so I took a solo trip to Europe catching all my favorite bands perform live.  

I even sent all of them emails and DMs on Twitter with this story. 5 out of 6 of them found it so funny that they responded back and insisted on meeting. Here’s a group pic I snuck my way into with the London band, Archive. 

7. Do you work best under pressure, or when things are calm?

It depends on what day of the week it is. No, but seriously, I’ve grown up being a solo player. So working under pressure has been one of my strongest suits, but over the years – I’ve managed to build a strong team called Apollo 11 at Leo Burnett, Mumbai. These guys have changed my life. They're like my fire fighters who're equipped to take out flames from the deepest corners of hell. They’ve brought out the calm in me. 

8. What really motivates you?

What scares me also motivates me. And the pace at which the industry is heading, the younger creatives have their fingers in every pie - be it crypto, NFTs, or even Rihanna’s latest hook steps. In an era of Vision Pro, I don’t wanna be Pokemon Go. 

9. Tell us about an artist (any medium) that we've never probably heard of.

If you’ve been on Tumblr back in the 00s, you’ve most definitely seen this image floating about. Let me introduce you to a legendary work of art. The English rock band Joy Division didn’t just create a genre with their debut album, but the album cover was inspired by a simple line diagram on a page in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy. Peter Saville, the band’s art director redesigned this page to create Rock’s most iconic cover – Unknown Pleasures. 

10. What's your favourite GIF/meme, and why?

Remember when The Queen wore that Green-screen outfit? 

11. What makes you really angry?

Watching others watch movies that are made for IMAX, but instead being watched on their pocket screens. 

Campaign Asia

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