In a panel discussion called at the occasion of the Mumbai launch of Sandeep Goyal’s ‘The Dum Dum Bullet’, names like Shanta Kumar, Geetanjali Kirloskar, Sunil Alagh and Kamlesh Pandey shared their views on the most common issue doing rounds in the advertising circles presently – whether the ‘fun’ has gone from advertising? O&M’s Geeta Rao moderated the discussion.
Rao warmed up the session explaining that the situation in the 80’s and 90’s portrayed advertising agencies as glamorous and highly paid profession and many people switched to be a part of it. However, somewhere down the line, the scene has altered and professionals today, constantly complain that the fun has gone from advertising.
Taking the cue, Kirloskar opened the discussion. In her position, where she knows the industry – both as an insider and an outsider, she expressed that every five to seven years the advertising industry needed an issue to bother itself with and this was the latest one. Said she, “A few years back it was whether advertising was not professional enough and then it was the in thing to be creative and not to look creative. Now it is this. Everywhere I go, I meet people talking about this, writing books on this but I think it’s just another issue we want to concern ourselves with.”
Giving it a different light, Alagh quested whether fun has gone out of ads or the process of advertising. He stated, “To a large extent, fun has gone out of the process of advertising. Professionals today have lesser self-belief. It could be because of cutting budgets but today the fun of taking a risk and having one’s own conviction has surely gone from advertising.”
Pandey took the discussion forward from here saying that ‘fun’ really had not gone away from advertising. “If you remember even in the earlier days, there were just a given number of people having fun,” said Pandey, “Today, it is the same number having fun. In that sense, nothing has changed. What has changed is that while earlier, it was all about being a writer or an art director, today it is all about designations. These things have begun to matter more than the essence of what the professional is doing.”
He explained further that today, the scene misses an account director who had faith in the work of his creative and tried hard to convince the client. This brought to fore Kumar’s argument that the competition has changed in today’s scene. “You took risks then, when the competition was not so stiff. Creative people don’t want to take the responsibility of the creative work that sells today. Most advertising happens in the months of December and January. As a profession, the fun hasn’t gone from advertising. But it sure has gone away as a business. Today it’s all about covering your ‘a’. Advertising is about people. It can’t be boring.”
With this, Kirloskar also reiterated that today it was very important to not lose the client. She said that a reason why people didn’t take risks was because they ran the risk of losing if not the client than a significant portion of the billing. Kumar added, “The consumer too somewhere had just became a number for the professionals than a real face.”
Alagh finally added, “Professionals today are not seeing the real world of the consumer. They are not traveling by trains and busses to see what the real consumer is all about. Advertising is about story telling. And you have to be experienced to understand the real environment to tell a good story. That is what is constantly going away from advertising.”
With this, Rao ended the discussion saying that while there were such diverse opinions on the subject, she was one of the professionals of today who still considers advertising as the most fun profession one is in.