Thursday, April 12, 2007

What the F**k am I doing in Advertising?

Thinking back now, I am totally stumped as to why I chose advertising. And to top it all up I chose to be a writer. What was it that made me take such a suicidal decision? Why couldn’t I have just taken up engineering and gone on to be a marine engineer like my brother? Why couldn’t I have chosen to become a physiotherapist like my cousin? Why didn’t I just take up a BPO profession and earn a fat pay like my sister? Or I could have even followed in my dad’s footsteps and become a sales person. Of the millions of career options I had, I had to go and pick advertising. Well, guess what…I screwed up. Now there’s no turning back.

There’s at least one minute in every day that I regret having chosen the field I am in now. It’s been almost six long years, of waiting and hoping that things will get better, almost six long rigorous years of stretching my patience to unimaginable limits. But now I feel I am at the edge. I am hanging on by a finger over a bottomless trench. I am in a situation where I can neither pull myself up nor let go and fall.

My problem with advertising is not the pay or the inhuman amount of work. If left to myself I am just fine with it. My problem is with the whole machine-like work culture it’s heading towards. Agencies are no longer places that people covet to be part of. They are no longer places where gods and goddesses create new brands and ideas that change the face of humanity forever. They are just factories churning out precisely detailed pieces of communication that are written, designed and approved by clients. Over the years clients have become the creators and we simply their tools. The Indian advertising industry has reached maturity and is ready to die.

I find it so difficult to write when I am told…”we need a headline of five words and it has to have the words ‘Price’, ‘offer’ and ‘business’.” What am I supposed to do in a situation like this? How can I claim that I am a creative writer when all I do is fill in the blanks? To tell you the truth, I feel absolutely cheated. My dreams have crumbled before my very eyes. Advertising as an industry has failed to provide me the satisfaction I sought. In recent years, we have seen many veterans from various departments of the advertising world, walk out of the industry forever. Why? Their patience ran out, their thirst for good work could never be quenched. They realized that advertising had become an ever obedient slave to its master - the client.

Is there no way we can recreate the charm that advertising used to have years before? Are we spineless yesmen to the client? Are we just people who spare client’s time and money by saving him the effort of learning Photoshop, Coreldraw and Grammar? What does creative really mean in today’s agency? Oh yes, you might question me about the thousands of wonderful work you see in the archives and magazines like that. Well brother, wake up and smell the coffee, have you ever seen any of those actually in the papers or on TV? Other than a few of them, all are scam work. The real work is mundane, boring and most often so powerfully uninspiring that over certain duration of time it could make a creative person lose the ability to think laterally. You get so tuned, you become a one track mind.

This maybe the only reason why employee retention in the advertising industry is either really low or even non-existent. People jump agencies before you can say 3. People jump with hopes of working on better brands, of working with more open minded clients. But this seldom happens. The grass always seems greener on the other side.

What do we do? How do we boost the morale of the creative lot? How do we bring back the glory days when clients knew that agency people know their work? How do we tell the fat man in the MD’s chair to keep his personal fixation on blondes restricted to his bedroom and not let it loose in his company’s corporate communication?

Many in the industry today feel that advertising is a service. That we provide communication services. Pardon me for thinking otherwise, I for one think we are creators, and that we should be treated with the same respect and reverence that used to be given to artists like Michael Angelo, Piccaso and their likes.

Do you think that day will ever come again when we will draw ‘Ahs’ and ‘oohs’ in a crowd, when we mention our profession? Well, till that day arrives, I am still going to be hanging on with my finger over that bottomless trench, because I don’t know what else to do.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the author are solely his own and are not meant to intentionally displease or hurt the personal opinions of any person or organisation.


reena said...

Hello there...nice blog you have... I like advertising...! haha...I'm Indian as well...I'm from Singapore...
Well take care...

Anonymous said...

grass is alway greener on the other side. India Search