Staff Reporters
Jan 6, 2022

Creative Minds: Swiftie Chaithali Rai finds a tailor-made career

The content and innovation executive at Essence India answers 11 of our questions. Find out about her admiration for Taylor Swift, why she feels like a puzzle piece, her proudest work and what she regrets.

Creative Minds: Swiftie Chaithali Rai finds a tailor-made career
In Creative Minds, we get to know APAC creatives through their answers to 11 questions, ranging from serious to silly (Why 11? Just because). Want to be featured?

Name: Chaithali Rai

Origin: Manipal, Karnataka, India

Places lived/worked: Manipal, Mumbai, Bengaluru

Pronouns: She/her


  • Senior content and innovation executive, India, Essence (2021-present)
  • Content and innovation executive, India, Essence (2020-2021)
  • Content and innovation intern, India, Essence (2019-2020)

1. How did you end up being a creative?

I have been in the creative space since I was young. At the age of four, I started participating in stage dance performances and choreography, and continue to do so today. Hence, even if I did not ever figure out what exactly I wanted to do when I grew up, I was certain it would be where my creativity was nurtured and supported. Getting a creative role in this industry was like fitting into a jigsaw puzzle that was meant for me.

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

I would like to highlight an amazing project that I was a part of in recent times. Essence collaborated with Google India and NDTV on a 13-week integrated campaign, including to create a show ‘Vaccinate India’ on NDTV’s television and digital platforms. I was involved mostly in the execution and it was honestly an honour to be related to this campaign.

Building awareness, eliminating misconceptions and addressing concerns around vaccination were crucial to curbing the spread of Covid-19. Vaccination drives were given a lot of emphasis by the government, as many in India were still hesitant. Google undertook the responsibility of providing people with verified information from credible sources such as the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation on its search platform.

The partnership kicked off with a two-hour live show, with key opinion leaders such as doctors and healthcare workers informing people about vaccination drives. It showcased information people could find on Google, such as ‘Vaccine centre near me’ integrated on Google Maps, daily updates on vaccination drives, and key statistics and frequently asked questions on Covid-19. The partnership brought together experts to highlight facts, share relevant news, debunk myths, and demonstrate how to access verified information on Google. The show was heavily promoted across NDTV’s network and websites, while promotions, widgets, and channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube were utilised to provide people with access to accurate data and motivate them to get vaccinated. The content was constantly refreshed, in line with the dynamic real-time situation and market context.

We observed a week-on-week positive trend on television on the key performance indicator of trust for Google related to Covid-19 information, and achieved a significant lift in usage intent for Google. And in just two months, vaccinations in India almost doubled, with the narrative around vaccination seeing shifts. With the success in India, this campaign has been scaled in APAC and is ongoing in Southeast Asia.

3. What’s the one piece of work you most wish you’d done? 

From the work done by Essence, I wish I had worked on the award-winning partnership for Google Home with popular talk show Koffee With Karan in India.

Smart speakers were new to India and there was limited knowledge about the category. The objective of the campaign was to build the category and get consumers excited about bringing home a Google Home. The product was integrated seamlessly into two segments of the talk show - in the iconic rapid-fire segment, and during the show to trigger engaging and entertaining conversations around celebrity photos, videos, music preferences and more.

It seemed like the best example of content integration where there was seamless product usage that made an impact.

4. Who’s on your dream dinner guest list (alive or dead)?

Taylor Swift. Being a huge fan, I want to listen to her take on life. I feel that even though we come from completely different walks of life, we both have a very similar approach to dealing with things. Every one of her songs talks about a specific feeling or emotion that I have an epiphany of only when she sings it. I want to know how she does that, what she would do in morally confusing situations and what her take is on some of the unpopular opinions about herself. I would also tell her that we both have the same personality type: ENFJ.

5. What advice would you give to a 10-year-old you, if you could?

Just be. Be what you feel. Whether you are angry, sad, ecstatic or embarrassed, just be true to yourself. Do not waste time being someone you should be, but instead spend time being who you want to be.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Putting Taylor Swift’s albums on repeat. I would not categorise this as a ‘guilty’ pleasure as I am a proud Swiftie. I want to cherish that insane headrush and overwhelming feeling I get every time I listen to a new Taylor song or album. To me, she is an inspiration and a songwriting genius.

7. Do you have a nickname? Why?

Back when I was in school, I gave myself a nickname: Ashley. Why, you ask? Because thanks to my dad who is a fan of detective novels, growing up, I was obsessed with the genre, and characters such as the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, and the infamous Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley. When I was 12, I also wrote a two-page detective story that never caught anyone else’s eyes except mine.

8. What makes you really happy?

Genuine acts of love and kindness, when someone does something for no other reason than to see another person get better. Nothing makes me happier than that. At the same time, it shines a light on why we call ourselves human beings, the art of being collectively human, and the feeling that anything one does out of one’s need for gratification, is collectively good for them. After all, only when one feels good, can one help someone else feel better, as one cannot pour from an empty cup.

9. Who is your 'hall pass' celebrity?

Chris Evans, I mean, he is Captain America!

10. Cats or dogs?

This needs a preface. While I respect all animals, I am not a fan of cats and I really like dogs, but truth be told, I am afraid of being around animals in general because I find them unpredictable and they leave me anxious. I am working on it though, as I want to be able to adopt a pup someday. Adopt, don’t shop!

11. Any regrets?

Not standing up for myself. Making others feel comfortable at the expense of my mental well-being. But every day is a new chance to not repeat what I repent.

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