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Guest Column: Shorts maketh a creative person. <i>Not</i>.

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Guest Column: Shorts maketh a creative person. <i>Not</i>.

There was a time, not very long ago, when creative folk dressed like hungover dingbats. And if you had the cause and the inclination to step into an advertising agency, you would know this to be true.

The creative department always stood out. Not just because of the hullabaloo they made, but because they were the only ones in shorts, chappals and baniyaans. Their hair uncombed, their faces unshaved, their mouths smelly.

And that was cool.

Back then.

They were creative guys. Guys who worked the magic behind the scenes. Guys who never actually met the clients themselves. Guys who didn’t have to face the public eye.

This fashion (or it can be argued, the lack of it) quickly spread. Soon freshers and interns felt they needed to look a certain way to be called ‘creative’. It was funny really, because here were these kids out of colleges dressing up like junkies, to be taken seriously as creative.

Some wore bandanas to work; some toddled in wearing mirco mini shorts; some in their pajamas. I remember one who used to wear an afro wig to work. I never could understand why.

Point is, if you had the inclination and the good humour to walk into an agency today, you’d see for yourself (and if you were an obsessive compulsive diarist, you’d make a quick note of it) that things have changed.

It is hard to distinguish the suits from the eccentrics now. It’s hard to tell which witch is which. Because the creative don’t really look like creative anymore, do they?

The shorts have been put away for a better time and place (a picnic perhaps?) The bandana has (in all probability) been burnt to ashes. The mirco minis have been exchanged and a good discount gotten on a smart pair of trousers.

And here is why, I think.

The roles of advertising people in general have become a little blurry. The servicing bloke brainstorms with the creative guys. The creative guys find themselves bundled into a cab, off to meet the client. The planners, well, plan lunches.

A creative person is not expected to be a maverick any more. He’s expected to provide solutions for the business he works on. He’s expected to know his data, the competition, what the client needs, etc.

He’s not expected to be sitting around in office trying to crack that big idea in his boxers that will change the world. He’s expected to solve things, fix things, better things. He’s expected to hold serious discussions with his client counterparts and talk solid sense.

A little hard to do that wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts, a T shirt that says ‘Screw you, I’m creative’ and an afro wig, no?

The author is Associate Creative Director, Grey Worldwide 

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