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How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.

How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.


Swapan Seth, Co-CEO, Equus Red Cell

THE DEVIANT AGENCY " But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn like fabulous Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centrelight pop and everybody goes "Awwww!" JACK KEROUAC

I must confess that to a large measure I stole the headline of this piece. But each day of my life, I pick up and read a book on leadership, the changing landscape of business and thinking just to check whether some of the things I lead my life by and some of what our agency stands for, have some method to it.

The Deviant's Advantage is one such uplifting book.

In page number xv, it sets the tone and tenor of the book by defining deviance in its purest definition: something or someone operating in a defined measure away from the norms. Of course, it also pre-plates the deviance by focusing on positive deviance, which it yet again defines as the kind of transformational change that moves fringe ideas and morphs them into mass markets.

Historically, it is the job of; first society and then business, to either tame the deviant and harvest the fruits of his labour or to altogether eliminate him. The good news is that the deviant genie, so to speak, is out of the bottle and attempts to recapture it are plain futile.

The bottomline is that the odd man out is in.

I have always believed that increasingly, in any business, more so from my experience, in advertising, this is a wonderful time for a deviant agency. Deviance is the pulsating drumbeat of commerce, the very salsa of innovation that drives wealth creation and defines attitude. Deviants by genes are gung-ho fiefdomers. Guys who don't play by the rules. Equally guys who don't even break the rules. Instead guys who simply make their own rules.

The Deviant Agency does not just do things differently. It just does different things. There was a time when we were sourcing new business potential on the back of established brand values for an established fabric brand in the country. A complete consultancy play in my estimation. At another time, we were identifying hotels in Europe and the United States for a client to buy. Historically, not an advertising agency's strongest suit.

Certainly a Deviant agency's.

As we compete morning after morning with the largest and the finest I have come to the wonderful conclusion that most conventional CEOs, having made their might on the back of established markets and consistent behaviour, are being forced to make magic in markets that have just moved on. The truth of the matter is that all around us the world is spinning and in this spinning world, the Deviant, devoid of the baggage of tradition and bereft of the crutches of convention is beating the hell out of those still waist -deep in tradition.

There is no room for a traditional agency that would hum along like a well-rehearsed lullaby. Everyone's required to be wide-awake these days. That leaves no place for that lullaby.

Instead, the Deviant sings within. Within the cathedral of personal ambition and hard work, he sings the hymn of victory. The deviant is inner-directed. I remember Brand Equity likened us to be like a fox: sly, prowling, and introvertish. Spot on.

The Deviant is also bereft of size. Lee Daley, who runs Red Cell, put it so aptly: it's not the size of the hammer as much it is the sharpness of the nail. The Deviant is not about scale of operation as it is about scale of ambition. The Deviant will work with large clients who have large aspirations. The Deviant while being comparatively small will actually be much larger than the conventional large agencies.

The Deviant also abolishes context. I see it each day. In several instances, we work for clients who have other agencies as well. Sometimes, very large ones. The Deviant abolishes the context in which its competitor operates. I believe that we have entered The Post-Information Age: an age where the culture is characterized by constant, relentless and all -encompassing change.

St Jude put it amazingly when he said, " The past, present and future have never been so moshed together. And since the future seems closer, it seems more malleable. The future is the ultimate plastic medium for us sculptor wannabes. And we are going to hammer the hell out of it.

Finally, the Deviant is not encumbered by his situation. It's like the bumblebee. Aerodynamically speaking, the bumblebee cannot fly. But the bumblebee does not know that. So it continues to fly happily. The great thing about deviance is that it does not think it deviates. It believes that the path it chooses is the one. It's the others who seemingly deviate.

 
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exchange4media has been calling me for my Viewpoint, but like a true advertising person, I have no time! So I decided to write it in sleep (if you can walk in sleep why can't you write in sleep?) If it hurts your sensibility or you disagree with my views, please disregard this as a piece of junk - because I know it is impossible to pour water in a glass full of water - to give gyan to advertising gyanis.
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