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Opinion and Insight

In Conversation with… Ronojoy Ghosh, Creative Director at whiteGREY

Award-winning creative on his ‘live theatre ad’ for NZTA and his true passion for writing children’s books

In Conversation with… Ronojoy Ghosh, Creative Director at whiteGREY

An award-winning creative with 18 years of industry experience, Ronojoy Ghosh is currently creative director at whiteGREY in Australia. His work has been recognised by Cannes Lions, The One Show and CLIOs, and in 2010 he helped Clemenger BBDO Wellington pull off a world-first with a ‘live theatre ad’ for the New Zealand Transport Authority. But while he’s an accomplished creative director, his true passion lies in writing and illustrating children’s books – something he started doing to help his son go to sleep.

LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with Ronojoy to find out more about his past work, his series of children’s books, and how he keeps his creative gears turning. 

LBB> Can you tell us how you got into advertising?

Ronojoy Ghosh> I never wanted to work in advertising. My whole family was in advertising and my father started one of India’s biggest independent agencies, Contract. I wanted to be a farmer, but then I realised I’d have to study a lot to be one, it’s not as simple as planting some seeds in the ground. So, I took the easy way and started working in the agency my father started.

LBB> And you've lived all over the place - India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand and now Australia. How do you think the creative industries differ across these countries? 

RG> People in the creative industry are very similar. We’ve got this passion to make things, make them better and to make audiences fall in love with our brands. What changes are the cultural nuances in different countries. Asian countries can be more challenging to work in as they have cultural sensitivities that places like Australia and New Zealand don’t.

LBB> What's a piece of work that you're most proud of?

RG> We’re doing some great work for our clients The Rocks and Darling Harbour, it’s fast, it’s fun and the clients are lovely. It feels good when everyone comes together and makes work happen. I’m also proud of our agency making ‘Hello in Elephant’  – an amazing idea that translates English into the elephant language. It’s the type of work that gets me excited about what this agency is capable of.

LBB> And in 2010, you wrote a short play for the New Zealand Transport Authority. That's pretty unique! Can you tell us a bit about that project?

RG> I thought theatre was dead. 

Growing up in India theatre was big, and it was used as a medium to communicate social messages to people who didn’t have access to TVs or radios. It was captivating and entertaining, people opted in to see your message.

15 years later I’m working in Wellington and I see a theatre opposite my office and the crowds that gathered every week to see new plays. It felt like the perfect opportunity to bring our message to life. We approached Tim Spite and worked with him to create New Zealand’s first ever theatre ad.

LBB> What do you do outside of work to cool off?

RG> I am working on a few children’s picture books at the moment, so no cooling off for me after work. Just more hard work, punctuated with some time with my lovely wife and son.

LBB> And how did you get into writing and illustrating children's books? What inspired you to start this? 

RG> My son. He refuses to sleep at night until he hears a story!

I wrote my first book (Ollie and the Wind) for him and approached a publisher to see if I could get it printed. I got very lucky and am on to my sixth book now.

LBB> How do you keep your creative juices flowing?

RG> By not stressing about things. My boss the ‘Chad Wagon’ has an amazing mantra: “If we’re not having fun, we’re not doing it right.”