Film Director/ Creative Consultant/Former Chief Creative Officer Ogilvy South and South East Asia / IAA Creative Leader of the Year.
Sonal Dabral, a creative consultant based in Mumbai, India, is the former Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy South and Southeast Asia. He recently went independent to pursue his love for long form storytelling, writing and film direction.
Deeply passionate about advertising, blackjack and single malts, Sonal was born in India and studied Visual Communication at the National Institute of Design. Over a 30-year career, Sonal led agencies to creative glory in three different markets across Asia.
At Ogilvy Mumbai in the '90s, he helped drive the agency to become India's No.1 creative agency. He did the same with Ogilvy Kuala Lumpur leading the office to become the most awarded in Malaysia. Ogilvy Singapore was next, where he led his team to become No.1 in the Creative Rankings in Asia, and the third most awarded office in the world at Cannes Lions 2007 – a first for an Asian agency.
He returned to India in 2011 to head Bates, followed by a stint at DDB Mudra. Having spent a significant part of his career with the Ogilvy network, September 2017 saw a homecoming for Sonal when he re-joined Ogilvy India.
Sonal is also passionate about teaching and mentoring young creative talent and is a visiting faculty at some of the top institutes in India. He has been a coach at LIA’s prestigious Creative LIAisons mentorship programme and has also been a mentor twice at the 'See it Be it' programme at Cannes Lions.
A popular speaker, Sonal has spoken at major festivals and events and other speaking engagements across the globe. Sonal has been invited to speak at the LIA Creative LIAisons Las Vegas, Rebels and Rulers conference in Bucharest, Dubai Lynx, Kancil Fest Kuala Lumpur, Spikes in Singapore and Ad Stars Fest in Busan Korea amongst others. He once successfully woke up a sleepy audience in Taiwan by singing an impromptu Bollywood song during a seminar.
Sonal's is also a respected jury member and has judged or chaired almost every major international and regional award show including LIA, Cannes Lions, D&AD, the One Show, the ANDYs and Spikes Asia. He was also named as the Direct Lions Jury President for Cannes Lions 2020.
International Advertising Association (India chapter) picked Sonal as the Creative Leader of the Year for the year 2017.
A jack of all trades, in an earlier avatar Sonal has been a favourite TV host on prime time television. In November 2017, Sonal also debuted as a playwright when a play written by him was staged in Singapore.
Sonal has just finished directing his first feature film. Based on Twinkle Khanna’s original story ‘Salaam Noni Appa’ this film will see Sonal debut as a feature film director in 2023.
Sonal also hosts a chat show on creativity, advertising, marketing and beyond, called ‘Streaming with Sonal Dabral’ which can be found on his YouTube channel.
His post retirement plans include being a filmmaker on weekdays and a pro Blackjack player on weekends. All along sipping his favourite single malts.