To most people, advertising is what interrupts cricket. But if you ask me, advertising is actually a lot like cricket. Both fields rely heavily on talent, have lots of fame and pots of money. And of course, there is that inevitable connection between cricketers and agency folk when it comes to building brands. The similarities make it a fair analogy. So let the game begin.
A player cum coach
I strongly believe that if you are a coach and a player of the team, you get a better understanding of the game than, say, an armchair coach. From the stands, you can only shout. On the field, you get to be more hands-on. Because, unless you step on the wicket, you can’t play and show how it’s done. You have to face the ball, and see for yourself if it’s reverse swinging or coming in at 142 kmph. No technology can help you understand it better than being out there. And don’t forget, most clients come to you because they want you to perform and lead from the frontfoot. They are betting on your skills and scores.
Where do you stand?
Where you position yourself in the minds of millions. Your approach, your identity, your game plan. It’s like a mind game probably as important as the game itself. So for entrants (the Netherlands and the Irelands of the game) it’s better to decide what you want to join in as. You could choose to be the sledging Australians, the hard-working Sri Lankans or the unpredictable Pakistanis. Tell the world what kind of a team you are once you take to the field. Because when you’re just starting out, there are many who’ve done it all and won it all. It’s extremely important these days how you win it, similarly in our field too, it’s very important to have a culture, a character for your agency. It will automatically reflect on the work you produce, the client list, the hiring, the atmosphere. And finally, that’s what will take the agency to the next level.
Once you decide which way to head, invest a considerable amount of time and energy in choosing the right set of players. Ultimately, it’s the players that form a team and it’s the team that makes or breaks on the pitch. It’s difficult, almost impossible for an individual or two to sustain for too long without a good team. One is bound to get exhausted or run out of ideas. It’s imperative to have a sturdy, reliable middle-order and also a tail-end which comes in handy on days. Finally, the game and the business are both about promising talent. A good set of young creative people is what every team needs.
Pick a format. own it
What do you enjoy playing the most? A 20-20, One Day or Test game? Selecting it right helps you work on your strengths, it sets the tone for your game. Rest assured, there is enough money in every form of the game. What you and your team enjoy playing the most will become your type. So focus on that strength and keep winning in that area. Make it yours, and make it big. And slowly as you grow, you can master multiple formats.
The 50s and the 100s
No matter what format of game you choose, you got to play the occasional big innings. Keep hitting the big ones at regular intervals as people have short memories. In order to be top-of-mind, you got to keep entertaining with timely knocks.
The fitness test
The game is all about young people. It’s that insatiable hunger and infectious energy that youth brings with it. Today, it’s the young cricketers that are ruling the world of cricket compared say a decade or two ago, where seniors were given more preference. Advertising is no different. When the average age in a 1.2 billion nation is 24 and when you’re talking to them, you better talk to them in a language they will understand. That’s why every agency needs more youngsters or seniors who think and behave young. So it’s a constant challenge for the seniors to stay fit (think young).
Sometimes, well left is well played
Pick the series you want to play and those you want to opt out of. More cricket obviously equals more money but you have to balance it out. So decide your capacity and play smart. If you feel there’s too much cricket, drop out of one inconsequential series and it might actually do more good than harm. Cricket teams and network agencies both have boards to answer to but remember that you don’t. It’s difficult to say no but it often helps. Refuse some pitches and win some.
(Santosh Padhi is Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder of Taproot India.)