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Advertising

As a Chief Executive Officer, if you hire lions like Pablo Picasso or MF Hussain to create a corporate emblem for your company, would there be any point in getting a bunch of giraffe Vice Presidents and General Managers to meddle with his final work? Define a target and a budget, and let the agency have a free hand.

As a trainee cub, join an ad agency if you love irregular working hours, midnight escapades and hobnobbing with the hoi polloi of creative geniuses whose king (or, queen) size egos need to be managed at all times, with clients’ deadlines looming large over your work horizon. Depending on your skill set, you may gravitate towards copywriting, production, media planning, or client servicing. In all cases, creativity under pressure should be the motto of your life.

(Excerpt from my book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’)

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AdvertisingAs a Chief Executive Officer, if you hire lions like Pablo Picasso or MF Hussain to create a corporate emblem for your company, would there be any point in getting a bunch of giraffe Vice Presidents and General Managers to meddle with his final work? Define a target and a budget, and let the agency have a free hand.

As a trainee cub, join an ad agency if you love irregular working hours, midnight escapades and hobnobbing with the hoi polloi of creative geniuses whose king (or, queen) size egos need to be managed at all times, with clients’ deadlines looming large over your work horizon. Depending on your skill set, you may gravitate towards copywriting, production, media planning, or client servicing. In all cases, creativity under pressure should be the motto of your life.

(An excerpt from the book ‘Surviving in the Corporate Jungle’, published in Portuguese recently)

BookFrontCover

Se fosse um diretor-geral, e contratasse um leão da estirpe do Pablo Picasso ou do Andy Warhol para criar a imagem da sua empresa, faria algum sentido ter uma manada de girafas vice-presidentes e quadros intermédios a meterem o bedelho no trabalho final dele? Defina um objetivo e um orçamento e deixe a agência fazer o seu trabalho à vontade.

Enquanto ‘cria’ estagiária, vá para uma agência de publicidade se adora ter um horário de trabalho irregular, ficar no escritório até altas horas e misturar-se com uma turba de génios criativos cujos egos gigantescos têm de ser constantemente bajulados, e com os prazos dos clientes a ensombrarem ameaçadoramente o seu horizonte de trabalho. Consoante as suas competências, poderá optar pelo departamento criativo, de produção, de planeamento de media ou de gestão de clientes. Seja como for, a criatividade
sob pressão será o seu lema de vida.

(This is where you can lay your hands on the book:
(Related Post:

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We appear to be living in an age of profanities and vulgarity. Be it our advertisements or movies, the content is becoming increasingly bold. If self-restraint does not get exercised soon, we could end up becoming a society of the most frustrated youth, forever on the lookout for an easy outlet for its innate urges and profane tendencies. The world-wide-web already has us in a thrall, leading to an exponential increase in the influence of these forms of entertainment.

Titillation and Commercial Success 

Cinematic content these days makes one rather immune to all the dare-and-bare acts. After an overdose of cleavages and thunder thighs, one only carries a feeling of contempt and disgust. Show of skin has become a necessary evil, the language has become expletive-laden and the lyrics somewhat soul-less. Titillation leading to commercial success is surely the name of the game today; social mores and cultural values appear to have taken a back seat.

From the days of delicate handling of romantic overtures (like Mughal-e-Azam, Guide and several others), we now have petite heroines mouthing profanities in movies like Who Killed Jessica, Ishqia et al.the-dirty-picture-02-s

In The Dirty Picture, in a particularly offensive shot, the heroine’s tummy is demonstrated to be effective in converting a raw egg into a half-fried version! Our hapless housewives who in the recent past were chasing a higher quota of subsidized cooking gas would surely approve of this environment friendly way of discharging their cooking responsibilities.

Lure, Offend and Succeed!

The advertising has become crude and offensive. In the 1980’s, Doordarshan used to beam the serial Ramayan into our drawing rooms. During breaks, it would also show a simple ad of Mala-D, a contraceptive pill for women. Once my daughter, all of four years then, was prompted to openly wonder if Sita-ji used Mala-D tablets to ensure that she conceived Luv and Kush only after a gap of more than fourteen years!

These days, we have enticing and naughty ads of condoms being promoted on some channels, depicting PYTs with hour-glass figures seductively disrobing themselves while sashaying down into a bedroom. One really pities today’s poor parents who have to answer a barrage of searching questions from curious children while keeping a straight face.

In the 1990’s, a Cadbury advertisement showed a comely nymph rushing into a cricket field and breaking into an impromptu jig, while another one promoting Liril soap was depicted dancing her way into our hearts under a waterfall. Now, we have a young Nokia user scaring an ‘aunty’ by displaying rash driving skills on his phone, while a Pepsi campaign keeps aside any pretensions of decorum and mocks the Indian cricket team!

Internet-ional Advertising

Entry of internet is proving to be a game changer. Marketing plans are increasingly being tweaked to use this platform, so as to reach the target segments more effectively. Despite the restricted availability of broadband in India, young and old alike are getting addicted to internet at a faster pace.

Increasingly, brands are getting wired to digital space. The creative juices of our advertising honchos now appear to be targeting social media platforms, and TV appears to be grudgingly yielding precious space and revenue to the web. Eventually, the two are getting together, offering a seamless experience to today’s highly connected generation.

According to YouTube sources, more than 70% of its viewers in India are less than 35 years of age. Also, 30% of its views in India are through mobile phones. This indicates the potential of penetration internet has in the marketing and advertising space.

Several prominent brands have faced the music over indecent content in their promos on the web. Smart ones have been quick to apologize and withdraw such content. Goes on to show that there is a limit to which sex and violence can help in selling products and services. The belief that higher ‘shock value’ results into higher sales in the long run is a doubtful proposition.

Is Audience Really The King?

Speak to either a movie maker or an advertising honcho, and the argument invariably is that they have a need to ‘connect’ with the younger audiences these days. But, can one really blame it all on the audience? For every “Rowdy Rathore”, a “Ferrari Ki Savaari” also hits the screens. There are several advertisements one can easily enjoy with the entire family.

According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), only around 121 million of 1.2 billion Indians are logged on to the web. Of these, only 2% 0r 2.2 million in rural India have access to the same. We are therefore talking of urban, young and tech-savvy audience which is said to be at the helm of defining what is popular in culture and content. One would rather admire today’s youth who have the courage of conviction to stand up for probity and justice for many of our social ills, much unlike their earlier generation.

In their relentless pursuit of higher visibility and better margins, most makers of movies and advertisements go for higher ‘shock value’ in their products. Our cultural values and a basic sense of decency appear to have gone into oblivion. Those who create content appear to be placing a higher premium on salaciousness and commerce rather than on civility and social mores.

Twenty Years Hence!

Twenty years down the road, when the babies brought up in present obscenity-ridden times become discerning adults, and when the youth of today assume the status of ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’, the trend may well reverse itself. The need for our dream merchants and creative minds then would be to ‘connect’ with a different profile of target audience, possibly brining in products which are more sober and decent in their content. One does hope for the same!

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ACCESSIBILITY

True leaders of men are always accessible to their team members, 25×7. Hide in an ivory tower and your people would hide their good ideas and also Accessibilitytheir problems from you, thereby stunting your own growth.

Follow an open door policy (especially when you work with a lady secretary!) and reap rich rewards in your career.

ADVERTISING

As a CEO, if you hire a M F Hussain to create a corporate emblem for your company, would there be any point in getting a bunch of VPs and GMs to meddle with his final work? Define a target and a budget, and let the agency have a free hand.

As a trainee, join an ad agency if you love irregular working hours, midnight escapades and hob-nobbing with the hoi polloi of creative geniuses whose king (or, queen) size egos need to be managed at all times, with client’s deadlines looming large over your work horizon. Depending on your skill set, you may gravitate towards copywriting, production, media planning or client servicing. In all cases, creativity under pressure should be the motto of your life.

AGGRESSIVENESS

A Chinese proverb says: “Pity is a sentiment that befits the lion”. If you are in a line job, aggressiveness is a must. If you are in a staff function, you can possibly afford the luxury of being docile and meek and still lead a team.

AUDITORS

An auditor’s primary function is to provide an honest assessment of the financial health of the company. In other words, to keep the investors well informed. In the long run, investors’ ire can be incurred only at the company’s own risk and peril. A correct assessment of the company’s finances also helps the operating managers to take corrective steps before it is too late.

Treat an auditor like an insider, share business plans with him in advance, and reap rich dividends in the long run.

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BEING UNREASONABLE

Taj Mahal was not created by a Mughal emporer who decided to be reasonable with the artisans. Great works of creativity, whether in the realm of science, fine arts or culture, did not get done by leaders in respective fields who decided to be mediocre in their approach. Nelson Mandela won over apartheid because he decided to be unreasonable and swam against the current. Of late, the Jasmine Revolution sweeping a part of our planet and the kind of social activism which we find blossoming within India, reflect social changes which could not have come about based on a doctrine of conformity and reasonableness. India can justifiably boast of business houses which have spurred the economy’s growth based on principles of fair practices in conducting their business and also a policy of pegging their business plans and targets much higher than what many would consider unreasonable in the present. The future is surely shaped by level-headed achievers who do not take “no” for an answer!

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

BEING AN OSTRICH

Most leaders operate on early warning systems. Those who do not foresee a problem coming up often repent at leisure.

BIG FISH IN SMALLER OUTFITS 

In a smaller outfit, one can get a closer view of the core business processes. If you have an entrepreneurial bent of mind, and love the unbridled authority, go for it.

Small enterprises are generally leaner and fitter; in fact, too bare bones for executive comfort. The idea is to hire a single guy when three are required. As a result, the exposure one gets is pretty rich and multi-hued. In comparison, larger outfits tend to accumulate more flab and less muscle.

Be aware that in smaller enterprises, authority flows from a single person (or his/her kitchen cabinet). Thus, the level of authority required at any point in time could vary depending upon the whims and fancies of the top dog (or bitch, if you like). In larger outfits, one could draw authority from multiple sources, and thereby enjoy better survival prospects!

BOSS – MEET HIM HALFWAY THROUGH

Amongst other things, you also get paid for keeping your boss’s BP under check. Pity the poor over-stressed guy and update himBoss - Meet Him Halfway Through before he thinks of any project assigned to you. In other words, meet him half way through.

If it is getting delayed, or worse, not getting done at all, make him an accomplice to murder by keeping him informed in advance. In case you are likely to meet your target, present him with a draft report/outcome before the deadline. In case the target itself gets upgraded or modified, it would give you a clear advantage.

BRAND BUILDING

Creating and maintaining a good corporate culture, giving employees a sense of ownership, is the first building block. Long term investment in R&D, quality and innovation is another sine qua non.

Trusting and empowering employees helps. So does having a numbers target for all departments, leading to easier evaluation and a transparent reward system.

BURN OUTS

A mental state attained by those who believe they are working very hard, thereby catapulting them to the category of those who are hardly working. Three clear signs of attaining this state are exhaustion, fatalism (leading to cynicism) and inefficacy. Causes could be an information overload, unrealistic targets and perpetual “busyness”.

The antacid cures for burn outs could be delegation, focusing on important rather than urgent and counseling.

BUSINESS SCHOOLS

The academic exposure is great, and leads one to visualize the impact of one’s decision across varied functions. If one believes that academic brilliance translates into business success, one is miles off the mark. The former is directly proportional to one’s IQ and the latter to one’s EQ levels.

Formally educated managers often suffer from the Analysis Paralysis Syndrome. A smaller company hiring more than one MBA is quite likely to go bankrupt. A larger behemoth can surely afford the luxury, and cannot do without quite a handful of them.

When it comes to creativity and innovation, they could drag you down. HR departments need to remember that Newton and Einstein never went to a business school. Had they done so, we might have never heard of them.

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