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When the deadline is tomorrow... or is it yesterday!

27-February-2009
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When the deadline is tomorrow... or is it yesterday!

Unrealistic deadlines and crazy working hours are things that an advertising professional learns to live with, these being intrinsic parts of the advertising industry. We have often heard the agencies complain about the clients dictating unrealistic timelines leading to agencies working at unearthly hours to be able to meet the deadlines. Are the deadlines as monstrous as we get to hear or is there more to it than what meet our eyes and reaches our ears?

It is wanted yesterday

“I think that the oft-heard timeline is yesterday and not tomorrow,” said Ravi Deshpande, Chairman and Chief Creative officer of Contract Advertising. “Mostly, people are in a hurry to get things done and want the delivery faster. This is the nature of our industry. In our case, we try to gauge the situation and if we feel the timeline is negotiable, we try to do that. There are times when it is imperative to come out with communication quickly, which then can’t be avoided,” he explained.

The demand for faster delivery probably also comes from the knowledge that one is technologically empowered to do things in less time as compared to the cumbersome procedure earlier. As pointed by Pushpinder Singh, Founder, Saints & Warriors, who is of the opinion that technology makes it possible to accomplish things faster, which is probably a reason for clients expecting things to happen faster, He, however, rues the fact that many agencies were still living in the past and hence, not competent to meet the demands of the client.

He added, “Perhaps the demand for overnight deliveries is more in some sectors like retail, which are driven by ever changing market demands. If there is a client who shares a long-term relation, he does not necessarily ask for such unrealistic demands.”

This sentiment is also shared by Rohit Ohri, Senior VP, JWT, who said that as their clients included several MNCs who chalked out their plans 6-8 months in advance, this minimised the need for such deadlines. He added, “We have a large pool of resources, so if such a demand arises, we can pull it off easily.”

Adrenalin rush for agencies

Priti Nair of BBH has managed to deliver an entire campaign in three days straight, including the filming of the TVC, executing print innovations and outdoors. She actually enjoyed the energy flow because of the time shortage and the adrenaline rush to deliver ‘now’. She did add, “I think clients have become far more reasonable now and understand that a good creative needs time for ideation and execution. Hence, less and less partners now come up with unrealistic deadlines. Having said that, I think it is true for our country to have shorter deadlines and also limited resources. Probably because of these limitations, we as Indians are able to be far more efficient, which the world is also recognising now.”

Creative agencies are not factories

We have heard the agencies, but what is the take of a client of these short deadlines? Lloyd Mathias, CMO, Tata Teleservices, said, “I think that creatives are justified in complaining about clients coming up with unrealistic deadlines. But it is also a fact that many times, because of market needs, one has to deliver at a faster pace. If there is an understanding between the client and the agency and such demands are stray incidents and not a norm, then I think the relationship allows for accommodation.”

He further said, “Clients have to respect the creative process and understand that quality suffers if one wants quick communication solutions. At Tata Teleservices, we plan our communications on a quarterly basis. Thematic and long term communication thus is planned ahead. Tactical communication may happen at short deadlines, but one needs to understand that creative agencies are not factories which can deliver without any thought process. This short term approach should not be the foundation of agency-client relationship.”

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