I’m never out of words when it comes to expressing my opinions about advertising. Why should I be? I deservingly belong here. This is the sundry world to which I’ve dedicated five years, exactly a fifth of my life. Okay, it might not be as long as the decades that some other people have devoted to the industry, but every person who has survived this righteous mess (read advertising) deserves a round of applause.
A sizeable number of able professionals saw beyond this creative chaos. These are the ones we recognize, the ones we see at award functions, the ones who believed they could survive the struggle. The ones who made their late-nights count, who weren’t intimidated by shrewd competition, who walked that extra mile to be where they are today, and eventually, experienced the gratifying, comical and privileged face of advertising. And then there are those who gave up, those who couldn’t find the method to the madness, those who could never get themselves to see, enjoy and internalize the amusing, crazy, eccentric side of the industry.
You may have known – and if not, let me tell you – that an advertising agency floor is nothing like any corporate office. These are two different worlds. One gets you to effectively hibernate at the desk and the other keeps you on your toes. One gives you acidic bowels, due to the unique blend of cocktails and dairy products, and the other gets you home in time for a sit-down meal. Of course, by now, you have guessed which of the two is advertising.
Here are some incidents and moments that are possible only in an ad agency:
* Here, you can walk in wearing a soiled pair of jeans and be assured you won’t be judged by your appearance. Your work speaks for itself.
* Here, when you have a disagreement with your art partner, you fling a Chyawanprash bottle at him across the office. In the evening, you take him out for a drink (true story!).
* Here, you’ll come across national creative directors who will get their teams to run behind him and present ideas while he’s on his evening jog at a park.
* Here, you can watch Bollywood videos on YouTube all through lunch, enact them, laugh your intestines out, and still have nobody question your work behaviour.
* Here, the well-dressed client servicing executive (that’s how they need to maintain themselves) and the most shabbily (read ‘trendily’) dressed creative are smoke-buddies.
* Here, if you’ve slogged at work till 2.00 am, you are allowed to walk in at 2.00 pm the next day.
* Here, you can walk out for as many tea and smoke breaks as you want to. Provided your work isn’t affected in any way (does the victory dance).
* Here, you have freedom of speech. Trust me, we do. Using the most obnoxious, inane and unmentionable words that may even lead to termination in corporate offices are not frowned upon.
* Here, you can watch football and cricket matches on the TV that is right opposite your branch head’s cabin. Daredevilry? No, but because he/she is watching with you.
* Here, after a furious creative debate in the conference room, the art guy, the copywriter, along with their servicing counterpart will go bar-hopping.
* Here, the seniors eat lunch at their juniors’ desk. They don’t feel any less about their designations.
* Here, in case you face a creative block, you are allowed to aimlessly stroll around blasting the music on your iPod or throwing paper balls at your colleagues.
* Here, your management throws you a cocktail party because you’ve bagged a new client.
* Here, sharing hangover stories with your boss does not make him/her judge you.
* Here, you can strum a guitar at your desk, and everyone else will join you for a song.
This list can go on and on, but, I’ll stop here.
So, basically, this is my advertising life. And I’m proud to have survived it. This is the industry that has taught me to fight my fears, to speak out loud, and helped me meet some really talented and full-of-life people. This place, advertising, gives you as much in return as it squeezes out of you. All you need is a heart and intestines of steel to survive.
A writer by profession and a copywriter by chance, Rachel Pilaka is a copywriter at Setu Advertising, and Content Lead at Underscore, a content development agency. She is in awe of the changing faces of the advertising world and is still experimenting with the medium. She tweets at @CuttingPilaka.