Friday, September 10, 2010

The falling rise story.

Fall came with falling grace,
I thought about free falling,
Got a call, someone said,
Fall is here to be.

Rise with the fall, rise instead,
Rise with the rising costs,
For if you stay free falling,
You’ll only be seen as lost.

So with them, I discovered,
What rising was all about,
To rise with us, you must only
Fall in line, or fall out.

So I fell out, and I’m free
Free as free could be
Fall comes, brings with it
More offers to rise with thee

But free I was, free I am
Free is all I have.
Free to think, write, express,
And travel the world a tramp.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


The first time I saw this, I was in school. That was the first time I realized the power of words. The power these words had on me.

They made me feel powerful.

And they weren’t written by an acclaimed writer. They were written by someone not known for writing. They were from a world-champion boxing legend – Mohammad Ali. And no, he didn’t pen these for Adidas.

Those were times of finding myself. I was enrolled into science, with plans to be an engineer. I had been writing for as long as I could remember. A release of poetry once in a while. An occasional practiced short-story.

The day I saw these words, I wanted to pen something similar. Something this powerful.

On closer analysis I realized, it was the thought behind the poster, said in simple words of raw energy, that made the line so impactful.

It was superhuman. It was human. It was eye-opening. It was embarrassing. It was inspiring. It was irrefutable.

But it didn’t make me want to buy Adidas. It didn’t make me dream of sports all day. It made me want to become that man behind the words with which millions would find resonance.

It was the start of something new in me. Four years later, I dropped out of engineering to become a copywriter.

And that’s where my Ad-iction began.

Frequently Wrong but Never in Doubt

Got an interesting email from a smart guy. It said – ‘Frequently Wrong but Never in Doubt’. And it hit me how far I’ve come away from that.

The problem with being wrong in a day job is, sometimes, you can be penalized for being wrong. Often, you are. So the motivation to make mistakes and explore new possibilities loses air faster than a football deflated with a pointed heel.

Making mistakes in a job affects one’s growth. Making mistakes in business catalyzes one's growth.

That’s the irony of doubt.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Brief Ad Story

While most briefs portray lofty, and often manifold ambitions from an ad, most ads in the newspaper merely do a good job of informing. No paradigm shift in consumer behavior, no ‘creating a buzz’ by an old offering because ‘we tweaked it a certain way’. Just information. And how some of them are better suited to fit your requirements.

A new laptop from Lenovo promises to have an 8hr battery backup for SME users. A news story (read, PR) talks about Apple’s new line of iPod Touch, Nano, and TV. A full-page ad of IDBI talks about savings account that doesn't charge banking fees.

Now the IDBI ad might create, to some extent, a paradigm shift. Which is to say more shifts to the said bank. It’s the offering that is great, and the ad carries it in a fluid manner. There is a little mess in the boiler-plate area, but that can happen anywhere given the last minute tug-of-war between the client and the agency, so I will give the said agency a pass on the blame.

Were there lofty expectations from the brief? Only a small team in a certain commercial building can tell. But the way most briefs come to agencies, it probably did. And it is probably this reason that explained the next move.

O&M made the ad, and they chose to put the same full-page ad in two pages back to back. Wasn’t the front full page impactful enough, that you had to repeat it in the very next page? Why waste client’s money? For your 15% media-buying commission? Or to make up for a good creative when you promised a great one? So you said, repeating the ad will take them closer to the lofty expectations from the brief?

Advertising isn't what it used to be. It’s not a good hearted information exchange. Instead, it fights for your attention in any nasty way it can find.

But then what is good advertising? Ads that are lost in obscurity? Ads that are plain vanilla and good looking, and are done at that? Any business effectiveness reviewer will tell you, they are failed ads.

Good ads are good if they can be objective about the expectation and capabilities of an ad, and drive it solely by measured reason from the beginning to the end. This is especially difficult to do if you’re trying to justify to the client what you’re trying to do all the time. As for clients, time is money, but money is not emotions, guys. And adding pressure will only, and surely, translate in creative compromises.

But as any successful agency will tell you, reason will often be a hindrance to growth. The client-agency relationship growth. The agency’s financial growth. It’s the art of persuasion that works. And if, in the process, business goals go against reason, so be it.

So be it.