Saturday, June 27

Jockey full of bourbon

If you are in advertising, is it almost impossible to be an optimist?

In an interview, David Droga, resident ad-world genius and founder of Droga5, the agency any creative worth her/is salt wants to work in, said he was an optimist. Which, if you consider how long he's been in the game, seems a staggering attitude to maintain.

It got me thinking. Has Droga's approach anything to do with the fact that he is a genius (albeit an incredibly hard-working one), whose ideas usually translate into wonderfully effective and memorable (is there a difference?) advertisements? He was born in Australia and started working there. Did that help mould his attitude and craft?

This exercise could go on forever and there's no chance I can distil the elements of his success. And yet, being an optimist, a cheerful person, having a positive outlook on life may be critical to one thing - wanting to wake up and go work in advertising.

Because the average Indian agency attitude goes something like this:

Servicing folks are reviled for being brainless, spineless, client-lovers, simply transporting work and feedback from client to creatives

Planners and their strategies are considered less useful than the greenish fungus that visits the back of the fridge annually

Creative people are assholes, who simply won't make what the client wants, or worse, create something so horrible that Oppenheimer himself would nod in approval

Management is either hated or pitied, depending on how accommodating they are, and to whom
Clients - there are no words

The daily levels of negativity, the machinations, the disappointments and frustrations, have to be experienced to be believed. Even at the agency I work, which is not a bad place to be at all. And yet, people are quitting it. Why?

Industry-wide, we are all just ordinary people. With other talents, other dreams and many worries just like anyone else. All of which have been put on the back-burner so that we work late nights and weekends on minuscule salaries so that advertisements can be made.

Only to find that the end product is usually criticized fiercely by morons who sit on their high horses spouting logic and philosophy on Twitter, or that modern day horror, the Open Letter.

Or worse, completely ignored (Dave Trott estimates that it happens with 89% of advertisements in the UK).

Or, horror of horrors, is absolute shit. 

An ex-boss used to say "You're only as good as your last campaign". Think of the number of ads that get made on a weekly basis and you'll understand the stress inherent in that statement.

Maybe it is better to be like Droga or Piyush Pandey (apparently, a man who keeps the room in giggles all the time). But, mimicking their advertising talents seems less troublesome than being as optimistic and cheerful as them.      

Song for the moment: Got a right to sing the Blues - Cee Cee James



Anonymous said...

Would love to hear why exactly the Open Letter is a modern day horror. Don't get me wrong, I am with you, and I have my reasons to hate it. Just wanted to hear yours.

G said...

I find most of them to be contrived and inane. Letters for the sake of making the news, and nothing more. And the tonality - "You are wrong" rather than "Here's my POV". For me, most open letters don't serve any actual purpose.

Anonymous said...

Yea, kinda why I don't like them too...I just don't believe they're genuine. However, I am OK with the accusations themselves. At the end of the day, it is a letter written by someone; it is their opinion. So the whole thing is someone's POV...and their POV happens to be you are wrong". As for them serving a purpose, well, they might not do what they're supposedly intended to to. But I am firm believer that anything that sparks a discussion without causing too much collateral damage needs to have a place in a civilization. Although almost every open letter I have read till date sounded fake, and in some way, self serving, I am still not completely sold over whether I'd want them done away with...

G said...

I completely support the freedom to have any discussion. So, I wouldn't ban open letters. Guess I'm more irritated that the format has been hijacked to drive clicks.