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Ask the Doctor

10-April-2018
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Ask the Doctor

Dear Sir,
I have been working at a very large ad agency for the past 8 years now. I am an art director by training and am now a Creative Director. Most of the work I do these days is in film. I have done over 50 commercials by now besides a lot of documentaries, training films, audio-visuals and more. Besides scripting and ideation, by now I have learnt a lot of cinematography and film craft. I am especially very good with editing and graphics.
I have a very close friend who is in client servicing in my agency itself. He is
an MBA but is very good with music. He and I have done at least a dozen
commercials together and have great vibes as a team.
My friend and I want to start a film production house together. Our only fear is whether we will get enough business. So far while I did all the work on the
film, I never had to go looking for a client or go looking for an assignment.
My friend who will be my partner is also not very senior and does not have the outreach to get business from clients. If we get the assignments, I am sure we will be able to do a good job.
What do you think?
Arun V.


Dear Arun,
I think setting up a film production house with your friend is a good idea. You seem to have the necessary exposure and experience. Your friend and you also seem to have complementary skills and as a combination you could do well together. There have been many past examples of agency colleagues coming together to form partnerships and then have a good innings together in a film production unit.
I can readily recall the example of the now famous film producer Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra (of Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag fame) who used to work at Ulka Delhi. He was a client servicing guy. At Ulka, Mehra worked with a young copywriter called Vikram Oberoi. Together they worked on the famous, ‘Fill-it-Shut-it-Forget-it’ campaign for Hero Honda in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Mehra and Oberoi earned a lot of accolades for their work. They decided to partner together and set up a film production unit. They were immensely successful together till they parted and went their respective ways some years later. So, a partnership between a good servicing guy and a good creative guy can lead to good results.
As far as scouting for new business is concerned, your first hunting ground should be the agency that you currently work for. If your interpersonal relationships internally are fine, your current colleagues can be your biggest source of business. They know you. They know your talent. They know your competence. More importantly they know that you know the culture and clients of your current agency. My belief is if you handle it right, your current colleagues, the other creative directors at your agency will support you. Work on that.
Also, list out all colleagues who may have left your agency in the last few years and moved to other agencies. Worth visiting each one of them and telling them that you are setting up on your own, and need their support. You will be surprised by how many will actually help.
Last but not the least, go talk to all the producers you have worked with in producing the 50 commercials you say you have been involved with so far. Do not see them as competition. Instead see them as friends and mentors. Many of them may have projects offered to them which they cannot handle either due to pre-occupation or other prior commitments. They may pass these opportunities on to you. Of course, much depends on relationships.
Leads for work can come from anywhere. A young friend of mine who launched off on his own, got a project lead from the music director of one of his earlier projects who tipped him off on a new commercial for a client he was currently working on. Networking in the film business is very very important. Another youngster got his first project with the help of the equipment rental company. A client asked the head-honcho of the rental firm for references. This youngster’s name popped up.
Go for it. There is enough opportunity out there. Work will happen. Especially if you are good. 


Dear Sir,
One of the Account Directors in my agency quit recently. As one of the senior
Account Group Managers, I was handed over his portfolio of clients, in addition to the work I was already handling. This has been so for almost 3 months now. I took on the responsibility, and the challenge, believing that either this would be a temporary arrangement, or I would get promoted to Account Director. Neither has happened and I am really over burdened.
I am not being able to service the clients I already had because in the new portfolio I need to travel at least once a week to Pune and that takes away a full day. Also, one of my Account Executives has quit and I have no replacement. I have tried speaking to my VP but he tries to shrug off the matter every time we discuss it. I am now getting worried about both client satisfaction and timely deliveries at work.
Since ours is a fairly large office, there is a big fat layer of top management. I kind of hesitate to bring up my problems beyond the VP but as of now it seems no one is aware of my work load, or cares about my future.
I am very anxious and increasingly getting depressed. Do advise.
Ashwin P.


Dear Ashwin,
Work never killed anyone. It is all in your mind.
If I were you, I would take the enhanced work responsibilities with a smile and run with them. Your VP may be evasive but he has no choice but to reward you with a bigger title and better compensation if you deliver with the increased work load. You can be sure he is watching, and so is the rest of your agency management. Hence cribbing or crying will not be of any use. On the other hand, delivering the work to satisfactory levels despite a heavier load will get you rewarded, sooner rather than later.
What is happening to you has been happening in advertising for years and years. The first thing to realize is that agencies load extra work only on to those that they think can shoulder the extra load. The second thing to understand and appreciate is that those who succeed with the extra work assigned to them become fast-trackers in this industry.
Advertising works on the principle of the stress test. You pass the stress test and your future is bright. You don’t take the stress well enough, you are consigned to the rubbish bin. Simple.
As a budding youngster you must also realize that when you think you are not on the management radar, it is not necessarily true. Most managements watch the progress of young hi-potential managers quite closely without letting them know they are being watched, lest they come under pressure. The right thing to do is to give them higher levels of responsibility (and authority), and then let them function without too much visible supervision. It helps young talent do their best without fear of failure.
Think of yourself as ‘the chosen one’ rather than ‘the damned one’. Work hard. Enjoy the work. Results and fruits of the hard work will automatically follow. That much faith you have to have in ‘karma’.
So, buck up. Get yourself better organized.
For a while, just grin-and-bear it. Then it will soon be time to gin-and-beer it!

Address your questions at ASK THE DOCTOR to interact@exchange4media.com or to sandeep@goyalmail.com

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