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Guest Column: Going to a war alone is useless

16-August-2013
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Guest Column: Going to a war alone is useless

We are in a world where we must work together. And I use the word ‘must’ not so much as an ‘ought to’ but as a ‘should’ There are advertising agencies, marketing departments, sales offices and so on and so forth. In the best case scenarios, there are none of these. There are just people with passion coming together to resolve hard challenges with openness.

At the end of the day, it’s our business to aid business. Else, we might as well be painting canvasses. And if a product is not selling, if it is gathering dust on a shelf, our job is to blow the dust off, squeeze some water on it, gloss it up, and make sure it goes off the rack as quickly as possible. We should make sure all businesses are Fast Moving Consumer Goods businesses.   

Now that builds up the pressure at various levels. Our information levels, knowledge levels, passion levels, ambition levels are all varied and everyone is trying to put in their two-bit to create some aid, which they think will make the difference.

A lot of times, we tend to think that what we have learnt is everything.

What a writer learns from the Copy Book (the authoritative book on persuasive writing in advertising), the art director learns from his art school, where he spends four long years figuring out negative spaces, amongst million other things. Then there are the B school graduates, who pick up a host of case studies about the business and management of it.

Our learning does not stop there. We continue to pick up lessons and keep learning through our professional lives. Our experiences at different offices, work environments, different markets, all sort of take root and form our opinions and beliefs.

When we are faced with a certain challenge, we unconsciously go back to our experiences and what we have learnt all of our lives.

There are times, when I have seen people talk of how a certain brand has resolved the issue in a certain market. They tend to believe that the same thing might work in our markets too.

What I am trying to get is that there is no point being unilateral. The bible says, go to war, well advised.

So in my experience, I learnt that the best clients are those who keep no walls. They communicate. And by communication, I mean engage in a dialogue. And I try my best to hear everything they may have to say about a certain problem they are facing, a peculiar challenge that may be ahead of them.

I respect that; because the information, the knowledge that they have is helpful. Often, as an industry, we try to give solutions that may have little relevance to the challenge our clients may be facing.
 
I work with several clients. And each time, it’s a very different experience. You learn different things; there are different challenges all the time. And you can’t apply the same solution to all the problems because each one is unique and needs a special understanding.

And I think listening makes a huge difference. Listening and understanding. It is essential to know the fruit before choosing a knife to slice it. A pineapple and a banana need different skill sets to peel.

And as I said, I truly believe that going to a war alone is useless. I might be dogmatic about certain creative idea that I think may rock and change the world, but I really need to see if it will remove the dust from that product waiting pitifully on the shelf.

That’s our business. And the more we come together, our clients and us, the more chances, that we get the product off the shelf.

The author is National Creative Director of Dentsu Marcom

 

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