Gone are days when you’d get up in the morning to cherish the ‘quote-of-the-day’ over a cuppa morning ‘chai’. In today’s newspaper there is no wisdom left and they do not report any news about those lost wise men. One such bunch of eccentric wise men used to work in the glamorous chic offices called the ‘Advertising agencies’. These folks were called the Creative department – long bearded baldy creative directors, pot-head visualizers and the alcoholic copy boyz. Somehow these talented men, worked hard nights to produce the ethereal and fresh ads for the morning paper. The colour ads stood out in the B&W newspapers not because of their obvious pale hue but because they were filled with words. Words that made sense, words that you could feel and words that made you think. The inspired thoughts helped you to go on with you life and face the world with a faint smile under your belly.
Advertising then, was an ‘art of selling’. And the creative teams were the self professed artists, living an enviable life. Other departments hated them, for they had to report on time, dress appropriately, attend meeting and prepare never-ending-presentations. But the creative team, sauntered way past the official time and entered directly into a discussion with smoke buddies over 20 cups of chai. The worst day for a client servicing guy was when the brand guy did not buy a particular creative campaign. The creative director would take his polished sword and slit the client into two exact halves with precision, well not literally but literary, for his words would casually and suavely suggest that the brand guy is a nincompoop and has no taste for art. His daft brain located in the corner of his left kneecap cannot fathom what the creative guy has envisioned for the brand.
It was fun to watch those fights, or let us say the advertising discussions in board rooms. Today nobody fights and nobody has to, every brand has a creative brain of its own and the creative team are now so educated with the corporate mumbo jumbo that they even copy-read the ‘balance sheets’ for the next quarter.
Today’s advertising is about price and functionality driven. That’s why you see the morning newspapers begins and end with sales ads with the lowest prices offered, combo offers, new added features and at times some celebrity showcasing the product and swearing on their endorsement fees about the functionality of those products. No funny one-liners, no catchphrases, and no prose and forget the poetry… It’s not about the reducing advertising budgets, because the media rates are continuously increasing and so has the number of ads that are placed in the newspapers. Like ATM’s, advertising agencies have mushroomed in every other street of the city. All of them competing to please the same client and woo the same customer, creating yet another banal piece of copy at super lightening speed. It’s raining offers, super discount packages, pick-up before anyone else does and 20 other versions of the same thing. The quality of ads no doubt has seen a sharp decline over the years. Is it in the quality of advertising or in the quality of consumers, who consume those ads? Its hard to say.
If you are not admiring, encouraging or creating art, why the hell do you exist? It is true that every brand needs an artist to sell its product because that crazy lunatic (agency creative person) is more ambitious about the idea of a ‘brand’ than the brand owner himself. Thus he envisions something bigger than just a mere product; an idea that resonates with its audience. It gives them hope, dreams, aspirations and encourages them to change, change their current lifestyle, their preferences and their outlook towards life. And somewhere in that change the product comes into the picture.
Advertising is a tough business of creating art; art that is used to sell products. But not like a sales pitch but as a story that talks about the trivial truths of life, its purpose to inspire the nation, it is an emotion that reckons the need to change. But where is that art gone? And where have those revered rebels disappeared?