Sacred Games Season 1 – A quick review

Pinch me, for i must be dreaming. Or am i? Nope! This shit is for real. And I’m fucking ecstatic.
To the uninitiated, Sacred Games – the show, is based on Vikram Chandra’s book by the same name (Go read the book as well). In essence, it’s a crime thriller, about Bombay, grounded in so much human social reality & truth, it will leave you humbled. Also, every charachter is so deliciously Machiavellian, that it warms the dark cockles of my cold heart.
I consume an abnormal level of content, mostly in video form. I create content, in video form. And i have been reveling in the afterglow of the golden period in western television genre. Hannibal, Community, GoT, Westworld, Rick & Morty, Breaking Bad, the list will go on for quite a while if i will let it. But if you haven’t noticed, there isn’t any Indian content in there. And that’s because, to my extremely biased and somewhat earned opinion, Indian TV sucks donkeyballs. In terms of production, storyline, script, cinematography talent, craft, or pretty much any parameter you judge video content on. Until, Sacred Games.
You know, we grew up in a society where Tamas was a thing, where legends like Gulzar & Benegal made TV. We tuned in to find quality, substance and learning from TV. My whole life has been in the love of the screen, thus i grew up to become a writer. Albeit, in advertising, so i won’t judge you if you saw corruption in my soul. But i come from Dekh Bhai Dekh & Mr. Yogi & Hum Panchii ek Chaal Ke etc. There was actual talent in the small screen. And somehow, while i was intently looking & learning from the global makers, those spaces here got filled with charlatans & Kapil Sharmas of the world. Add to it, the lack of spine on the channel’s side to try anything new, and the audience inertia; combined with a culturally digressing society with it’s new decency laws & censorship programs, and you have the toothless, characterless, mindless entertainment that beams through our idiot boxes.
And there comes Sacred Games, and fucking blows my apathy out of the park so hard, that it actually changes the game. Okay, listen, before you think I’m blowing that show too hard, please know i have a lot of nitpicks with the narrative. I have continuity issues, and i have issues with some of the casting choices. But i will look past that, i will look the right fucking past all that. And into why i think it’s a momentous occasion for Indian creators, and way of me apologizing for have had doubted that oppression of any kind, will result in either violence or artist expressions something fierce. And Sacred Games is, it’s fierce, it’s unapologetic & it gets nudity right. Not sleazy, not the usual Grade B Bollywood shame fuck.
I like the social commentary, i like how it shows the Indian landscape, i like the naturally flowing dialogues that don’t reek of mediocre writing, or cheap innuendos. It’s blunt, it’s abrasive, it’s violent, and did i tell you about the swearing, i fucking love it! I guess we have Netflix to thank for the workaround the show creators got to bypass the stupid ass censorship laws we live under. And come up with our first ever globally bingeworthy TV show, on the same levels of Narcos. Which is a tall praise.
So good fucking job, Phantom Films; good fucking job Vikramaditya, Good fucking job Anurag Kashyap (loved your portion of Lust Stories as well). I’m relieved to say, i look forward to Season 2, don’t fuck it up! 🙂
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#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 6 (Pepsi)

You can download the file from the link at the bottom of the article.

Reality comes at you from various directions. Sometimes it’s serendipity, other times it’s not. The complete restructuring of the brand team at the client’s end, a week after presenting the annual branding through content route, is not something one can plan for.  This was circa 2015, and Pepsi was struggling to connect with the youth, mostly because of their traditional approach to media, advertising & budget allocations. ‘Oh Yes Abhi’ as a campaign failed to impress the new generation, who were too taken by Coke’s communication, or were getting off the fizzy carbonated drink wagon for good. That was the marketing challenge – How to hold a conversation with the youth, in a way that they would find it interesting.

The clear & obvious answer was content. Subtle, entertaining, engaging content, not the kind that reeks of marketing. I have a formula for good content with potential for traction, and I use it every day. I believe good content should either – ‘Educate’, ‘Entertain’ or ‘Engage’. Any combination of either two is good content. If you have all three, you have a ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ or a ‘John Lewis – Bear & The Hare’. That’s greatness.

(Note to young creatives: Try and use this scale for the content you make for your brands, see if what you made Venn diagrams itself into any of the three, or of the three categories. It will help you stay self aware of what you are creating, and will help you sell your ideas to the clients. I cannot impress of this enough, most of the client’s trust comes from your confidence of the idea.)

Now coming back to the deck, and the idea behind it. The plan was to create a Pepsi-Verse. A universe where the Pepsi content lived, breathed and grew like any organic system. It was a place that directed the audience away from the clutter of the social media pages (This is the way fwd for all content now, but it was sacrilege in 2015, to go a client as big as this, and say, let’s get OFF Facebook, and not ON it. Let’s create our own universe of content, that people might actually be interested in consuming. Let’s use Instagram to connect, and say something worth listening to or paying attention to. The client understood. We also used the existing baggage of the brand communication to branch out from it.

(Another note to young creatives – Try and stay in the client’s comfort zone, don’t try and reinvent the wheel, unless asked. Your talent is to take what is given to you, and polish that turd in a way no one has polished a turd before. Bring to the table, a much better version of the existing than anyone expected it to be. Find value in what the brand has, and the brand will find value in what you have to offer.)

Also, you need some context, since a lot of build-up slides with market data, Analytics, Intelligence & Planning are missing in the downloadable file, for obvious reasons. They pretty much built up to the fact that, we need our own content platform, our Pepsi-verse. The strategy was to bring the youth away from their parent’s favourite social sites, and on to our own space. And since everything on our platform would be directly connected to all social platforms by default, it would be a good way to find traction on both ends, at half the marketing cost. I can go on, because i love the way this deck looks & feels. And that’s important in a world where all media is visual, or soon will be. It’s very important to make the client see what you see, what the brand will look like, what the end user will come across. It helps immensely if you show, rather than tell.

Thank you for your audience. Hope this helps.

 

If so, please leave a like or a comment, either here, or the place you came here from. Or not, your call. Don’t listen to anyone 🙂

 

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Credits:
Brand – PepsiCo India
Agency – IBS Unified
Planner – Manish Thanvi
Copy – Rasesh Patkar, Shivani Gairola

Art Dept – Anish Sundaran, Shruti Thakkar, Rahul Singh Yadav 

 

Digital Advertising in India – One ‘Un’ready Player

I like me a layered analogy. It gives context colour, and texture. In a world where everything is click-bait; a long-drawn analogy is required to help understand nuance. Because smart people look for nuances, it’s the understanding of the intricate that helps craft the elaborate. I feel so, you may not. And that’s okay.

Like you may feel that digital advertising is growing in this market. You might also be happy at the figures that they throw at you, making you feel positive about the future. All figures in green. But you would be wrong. There is something plaguing the advertising industry, and most agency heads blame digital for their shrinking bottom-lines. Gold-star, Cannes coming out of their ears sort of agencies have salary issues and hiring freezes for over a year. There is a lot of blame to go around too – The clients are not spending, revenue targets are not met, media percentages are disappearing, etc etc. They would be wrong too. The whole industry is. Mostly because there is never a want to break away and be itself to begin with. I have never heard ONE SINGLE CLIENT ever say they wanted to ‘create’ a trend, instead of ‘following’ one. And by trend i do not mean throwing money at the social platforms to appear in side list for a moment. Only to be used by clueless ‘digital’ agencies as screenshots for the next three meetings. Where everyone will pat everyone else on the back, and get back to being abjectly mediocre. In fact, most of the times, the brief is – Follow the trend, in some form or the other. Get on top of that one topical shit that people seem to give a damn about for literally just a second, and milk it. Hashtag chasers, i call them. This is why Selfies are a real marketing tool in many a brand’s kit in 2018 India. Selfie died two years ago. But what would we know? We are a mediocre market.

And speaking of mediocre, have you seen Ready Player One? Have you read it? Are you fan of Spielberg? Or Earnest Cline perhaps? Or maybe you are just a fellow nerd, drenched in whimsical pop-culture references, always the one to tell people around you the difference between Gundam, the Iron Giant and Optimus Prime. Are you a nostalgia whore?

And if you didn’t get, care or follow any of what i said in the last para. If your brain’s reaction to all those words was to trail off, and not be outraged at the mere comparison of manga with cheap American knock-offs; then you are a normal person. And today I talk to you. The normal. Ones who are fans of the popular sport, watch popular movies, use popular catchphrases; the ones every communication is targeted to, by everyone. What an assault of senses that must be. What a high it must be to always be in the middle of the wave. Not the edge, not the after-wash. The fucking middle. Always going where the wave goes, without a second of thought spared as to who is directing it, or why. I speak to you today, to let you know that you are being gas-lit, day in, day out. (Google ‘Gas-lighting’, and figure it out)

And i use the IP – Ready Player One, as an example to do so. And if you know anything about this cultural phenomena, you will know that this was the ring, to rule them all. This was the epitome of nerd culture, in the same way Pink Floyd was the epitome of what 60s had to offer to the world in terms of music. And we can differ in opinion on that as well. You would still be wrong, but we can differ, sure. But all this was happening in a market where branding, content, nerdism, geekism, had over half a century to ferment. The US of Trump. We didn’t. Like we never do. Like we weren’t remotely into with the PC revolution, before the smart-phone one washed us to its side. And we just joined in, like we join in on every wave. We hardly had any time to understand the internet, learn through it, before we jumped head-first into 50mbps broadband & 4G speeds. Like we hardly have the cultural learning, or appropriation to be interacting with the world, but here we are; social media in every hand, whether deserving or not. A major portion of our populous still doesn’t know what phishing is, or what cat-fishing is in terms of social spaces. We don’t know what PC culture is, we clearly as a country don’t have a proper understanding of personal space even in the physical world, why will be give a fuck about it on the virtual one?

What I’m trying to draw attention to, is the fact that just because two people have the same tool, doesn’t make them both equally adept at it. Especially if one of them has had years of training, is always at a home-ground advantage in terms of ownership of the platform, the language used. (Facebook will a very different place to us, a very different experience, if it was invented in Kanpur, had head-quarters in Delhi, and was also in Hindi)

But does that stop us? No. Because we as a society know when to get on board. We are in the middle. You understand? We shift as everything else shifts around us. We are in the wave, not on it. We cannot catch up to the ones who are directing it. The reason is, we are not primed. We are not ready. We never are. Mostly because we are lazy. Let’s face it, it’s way easier to use an app than to make it. So let those people make it, we will use it. No one wants to know how the fridge works, while everyone knows how to use it. We are that. Which is why, no cutting edge ever works here. We aren’t dictating shit. Mostly because we don’t have any unique perspective to offer. Everything we do, is a version of what’s already been done, and perhaps done better.

Like Ready Player One. For which btw, someone had to run a change.org petition online. Yes. A movie that made over 400$ Million worldwide, didn’t get a release in India till a month later, and that too after a lot of begging. By that time, i had already seen all the YouTube reviews, I learned about all the 300+ Easter eggs, etc etc. But that’s me, i like that sort of thing. I took two of my ‘normal’ friends to watch this movie with me, and to no surprise, they came out of it, underwhelmed. They would be, since they hadn’t the preparation time, or the intent that I did. I knew the nuances, i knew the references, i knew the point of the movie was the celebration of 80s pop-culture, and not the plot itself. I knew that to enjoy such a movie, to appreciate what was crammed into 120mins, one had to have over a century worth of global pop-culture knowledge ready to go. And my knowledge was second/third hand to begin with, and mediocre at best.

And that’s the issue with the Indian advertising industry. We are forcing our audience into experiences to which they have no context, no nuance. Mother’s Day is not something the Indian customer is emotionally primed into, or invested in. I am guilty too, of fanning that kind of fire, to make such a thing stick, so I do apologize. But we did it 3 years back, and I didn’t have this perspective. So i understand that we want our audiences to see the stars with us, without stopping to think that they might be flat-earthers, and that there is a huge learning curve that is integral, and missing. We have to slowly wean them into it. There is still a large portion of people in this country who have no idea Cambridge Analytica happened, that Fake News is an epidemic on Facebook, or that Instagram bots are a thing, and that those bots might be smarter than them.

In short, we as a market are unready. Unready to keep up. Not due to the lack of infrastructure, but due to the lack of context. We need to stop riding coat-tails, and find a way to shape our country’s approach to communication. We should stop throwing things at our audience to which they have no context. Doing the Ice-bucket Challenge, and understanding the context of ALS & social gestures in America are two completely different things. Stop following trends blindly. Stop, understand if that makes any sense to the Indian audience at all. Better still, know that a trend is like a mayfly, if it’s born, it’s already closer to death than life. Forcing your audience to consume stale ideas, just because you want a quick bump on the analytics graphs is a lazy fucking approach, and we are all guilty of it. Find your own conversations, ones to which the audiences here have had context to. Something that people will understand the nuances to. So that craft can exist. PaperBoat did that, i mean as a brand. They gave 90s nostalgia an Indian flavour. And it worked. It connected. It stuck.

So please try and avoid short-cuts. Too many short-cuts might get you there faster, but not often. Plus you’ve had completely missed the point of the exercise. Also, when the time will actually come, to prove your worth, it will be very clear who knows the terrain and who doesn’t; who put in the effort, and who clearly found a way to cheat. Like if you go and see Ready Player One, it’s very easy to spot fake fans, who hopped on the bandwagon after they someone told them that nerd was new cool. Don’t be that guy. Put in the effort, or get the fuck out.

 

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#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 5 (Vistara)

(You can download the file in the link below)

Note to young writers aspiring to survive this changing mediascape – Stop writing copy. No one reads copy. Think visual instead.

Note to all young art directors – Get your craft game up. In a world where any idiot can click a picture and make it pretty in less than 30secs on Instagram, ART is a valuable asset; but only if it reeks of your individuality.

Now coming to this circa June 2015 presentation deck, it is incomplete. At least in the form it is right now. Because i had to remove a lot of slides that had data, planning/creative tech ideas and interesting innovation of a reporting tool. But all that is the agency’s IP, which i cannot indulge in; so i wont. However, smart as those ideas were, they aren’t the most important missing part. It’s me. Or when i say me, I mean the presenter. For the creative bit of the pitch, it was me. And since you don’t have me physically sitting next to you, taking you through the romance we were trying to build, you don’t have the soul of this deck. It’s missing chemistry.

In other words, always make presentations which are incomplete without you. This will end the ‘mailing creative ideas to the clients’ bullshit; and creatives will have way more onus of what they do, what quality they produce; and an reason for the client to have trust on you. Also, rehearse your presentation. Don’t read from the slides during. It’s showmanship, and you are the star performer. Stop dialing it in, dial it up.

Finally, a word of advice to the new breed of planners & servicing folks – Stop using too many words in your decks, stop giving the client data unless the client has asked for data. Stop telling the client what they already know, stop explaining their own brands, demographics, industry cliches to them. Get in, do your job, get out; don’t take unnecessary time with 100+ sliders, when the job can be done in 10. Everyone likes efficient people at work. Everyone wants to be friends with them for personal benefit. Be that. Be smarter than your client, you are getting paid to be so.

Anyhoo, back to this deck. The idea is Uncommute* with the asterisk replaced with the brand logo. The idea was to bring back the joy of flying. Which seems to be missing from the stuffy, commuter laden travel option that we now associate it with. It was about making people believe that Vistara was a different approach, a younger better version of the good old past. And it had to show in the brand’s approach to communication & design. It had to be a freeing experience, and not a chore.

The client liked it, a lot. But i think the money men disagreed on a cost to idea. We didn’t get signed on at the end. It was a bummer. However, this was born.

Hope it helps! 🙂

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Vistara_Uncommute copy

Credits:
Agency – IBS Unified
Planning – Manish Thanvi
Copy – Rasesh Patkar, Shivani Gairola
Art – Anish Sundaran, Rahul Singh, Shruti Thakkar

#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 4 (Morphy Richards)

(You can download the deck from the link in the article below)

There are heavy, data-driven, strategy-first decks. And then there is this one. I adore this presentation, mostly bcoz of how it makes me feel. It was circa 2015, and this was my first all-content decks. It’s a mood presentation. This whole exercise is to make the client feel, what the client wants the customer to feel. This is an experience, this is a memory, this is good will through content.

The deck, and the content produced for that purposes (The videos are sourced, not original by us. Duh!),  is based on the idea of – My Boring Everyday. An approach, where the juxtaposition of absolute beauty, with something mundane was to create the most subtle humble-brag ever. The idea was to project that with the brand/products, your boring everydays, can be, will be, must be magical irrespective. This was done to elevate the status of the product, appeal to the ones who prefer not shouting, or showing off; and mostly to the ones who have a sense of good aesthetics over the masses. I have loved this idea, bcoz it’s my sense of humour through & through. It’s an understatement. And i truly believe, that in today’s world of communication, where everyone shouts all the time, understatements will really be a welcome change, and a lovely way to get into the audiences’ hearts, and wall feed.

Hope this helps! 🙂

 

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PS: Please download & watch fullscreen, for a better experience.
Credits:
Brand – Bajaj Electrical Limited
Agency – IBS Unified
Planner – Manish Thanvi
Copy – Rasesh Patkar, Shivani Gairola

Art Dept – Anish Sundaran, Shruti Thakkar, Rahul Singh Yadav 

#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 3 (LYCRA India)

(You can download the deck from the link in the article below)

We all have had that one really bad relationship, the one we never speak of. The one that makes you spaz out & cringe if traces of it accidentally floats by your unprepared psyche. The place i made this deck at, is my moment of shame, my biggest professional mistake so far. To a point, that i actually scraped off all traces of it from, not just my resume, but also from the deck attached. So this one is not quite as pretty as used to be.

And just like in any toxic relationship, there were moments of accidental brilliance to this job as well. The pitch deck for Lycra India was one of those. It might not be the most visually provocative deck, but it’s rooted in a very big idea. It’s tangled, merged & melted in the idea of motion. May it be social, national, patriotic, entertaining or marketing; it was all conceived in motion. Read the deck, enjoy the idea & form your own opinion.

 

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LYCRA
Credits:
Brand – LYCRA India
Agency – A really bad one
CCO/CMD – You dont wanna know
Planner – Rohitash
Copy – Shubhit Saxena 

Art Dept – Sanjeev Kumar

#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 2 (Reliance Telecom)

(You can Download the file from the link below)

I helped set up Whyness Worldwide around 2014, with the incomparable Ravi Deshpande, and the team. It was a lovely year, except i would almost always be sick, and had to fall out of the wagon, in order to get medical help. But while i was there, i learnt a lot. Mostly about how to get data visually correct. Ravi’s obsession with beautiful presentation decks helped me find traction with mine.

This was a Reliance telecom pitch, maybe around the time they were planning of Jio. No idea, neither am bothered. The idea of the presentation is Revival, because as of circa 2013, Reliance was at the sluggish end of the telecom spectrum. Vodafone had the dog, the zoo-zoos; Airtel had ‘Har ek friend zaroori hota hai’, Idea had Junior Bacchan. Reliance had jack. Their legacy wasn’t Jio, their baggage was 500/- mein mobile. And thus, ‘Revival‘. Not just of the brand, but also of the genre, the service, the perception. We approached it in terms of social transformation, cultural upliftment and talent based earned media economy. Or in simpler terms – Turn Reliance into the good guy.

(Note to new creatives – Never bring your personal opinion to work. Taking work as work, and not smearing your individuality all over it, is a fantastic work ethic, that i had to learn in many a hard ways, given that I’m almost always extremely opinionated. How much have i learned? Enough NOT to type my honest opinions here, since one day i might have to, or god forbid, want to work with that brand.)

So when you go through this deck, please pay attention to the data points, how they are presented. Pay attention to the graphs, and how they aren’t your stock PPT graphs. Pay attention to the flow. Because we did. The art people worked their ass off, the planners too. Ravi always presented better than me, and i hope i have bettered ever since. But this was a colossal presentation, for a client who wasn’t ready, evolved or smart enough to recognize the potential of a small creative tech agency – Whyness. It should had. But then, some people would much rather throw cash at the celebrities than actually do something worthy.

 

Reliance

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Credits:
 Brand – Reliance Telecom
Agency – Whyness Worldwide
CCO/CMD – Ravi Deshpande
Planner – Chetan Mane
Tech –
Pravin Babu
Art Dept – Gia Gernandes, Deepa Pol

#OpenKnowledgeSeries – Episode 1 (Adidas)

(You can Download the file from the link in the post)

 

Tribal DDB has had been a life long love for me. It’s also the alma-mater for me, when it comes to ‘Digital’ & creative tech communication. I don’t know what it is about that place, but it’s given me lifelong friends, and hopefully a lifelong companion. It’s also played a very pivotal role in my life when it comes to an upswing in my work talent, work ethics & work quality.

So I’ll also start this series, at Tribal DDB, circle 2011. I was the CD, Max Hegerman was my boss, Bobby was my CCO. We had a ball of a time, most of the times. And we were pretty much always working. Mostly bcoz work was extraordinary levels of fun. Like working on this Adidas pitch deck (We won the pitch BTW, leading to elevated pride levels).

Pitch work is always, almost the best level of work I usually do. It’s bcoz when you don’t have a direction, it’s easier to anchor yourself to the existing brand thought, and use your filter on it. That is what we did here. We took the brand’s ‘All In’ as the leaping point, and went, well, all in. Pardon the pun, but it was really fun.

Now let me also give you a context to the industry dynamics as to where it was in a 2011 India. Digital was still 4 years from hitting any kind of traction with any local clients, and 6 years from becoming the all encompassing media juggernaut that it is today. Adidas being the thought leaders globally, was easier to take bold steps on. (Sidebar: I’ve always found it funny how the younger brands/Start-ups in this market seem to have an inertia of media. Which is quite the opposite to Eurpoean or American markets. Maybe it’s the systematic fear or failure through chance that’s built-in, or the dependency on old-school marketing people, read experienced, to bring home the buck, who in turn depend on old-school marketing approaches to do so. I don’t know, but it’s always has bothered me.)

Anyways, this was a deck that had motion. It was important for me that we have that. Bcoz the brand had motion. We chose to visually show the ideas, to bring some life to as boring ass ppt, which is something i have since learned to despise, and justifiably so.

The idea of this deck wasn’t an idea, it was the execution. The challenge was how to create something using tech, visuals and human interaction in a way that elevates the brand’s core idea; and we were adamant that we will not be boxed in to a ‘Digital Agency’ cliche, and do Facebook posts, banners & emails. We were confident that good design & great execution cuts across media, and is the only thing that eventually matters. It is a no-brainer now, but at that time, we were considered by the ‘mainline’ people as arrogant for even trying to be anything else than what the world told us to be. I have Max to thank for that. And i have my team to thank even more for it. We literally took the thing from a website, to a film, to content, to merchandize and outdoor activations. And yet, everything circled back to digital at the core.

Note to new creatives: When working on a big idea, always write a manifesto. Maybe for yourself, maybe to infuse romance, and definitely for the client. Always visually show your ideas, the clients haven’t seen what you have, they have no context to where you are coming from. Screw the PPT, tell a story. Most often than not, the client’s confidence comes from seeing yours. Also, always go for the left turn, that’s where the real idea is. Everyone else is on the right 🙂

So hopefully you’ll like this. And if the feedback is good, I’ll start uploading more of these

Hope this helps.

 

 

Adidas

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Credits:
Agency: Tribal DDB Mumbai (2011)
President: Max Hegerman
Art Directors: Udisha Kumar, Kaizin Pooniwala
Writers: Rodlie D’Souza

The LinkedIn Epidemic of unending, incomprehensible job titles.

Let’s get this straight, if your title doesn’t fit in four letters or less, you are just peacocking. And it’s not just you, it’s pretty much every second profile on my wall, and I’m sure yours as well. 

‘Senior Resident Idea Manager, Digital First Empowered Content Curator, Chief Bullshitter of Operations, buzzword, another buzzword, followed by some more’, is not a title. It’s borderline self fellatio. Because informing people about who you are is one thing, dumping a bucket of words that you either made up, or borrowed from somewhere isn’t. You aren’t fooling anyone. Everyone knows what you are doing is fluffing up your feathers to look important, which clearly means you are not. 

Can you imagine how it would be to meet someone who just went on and on and on about their personality disclaimer on the first meeting? Wouldn’t it be a dick move? Then why do that on LinkedIn? Do you think people who are actually important walk around with a mile long ID card hanging from their neck? Do you? Does your actual business card say Mentor, Entrepreneur, Digital Evangelist, Shepard in Chief, Advisor to blah blah, This company bought my first company, That brand visited my office thrice in a week etc etc, all at one go? I know you know who you are. And i want you to understand that no one is impressed, at least not the ones you want to be. They are rolling their eyes at how needy you sound, how insecure you are about your achievements and how desperate you sound when you HAVE to tell everyone every single thing in one breath, at the first go. It’s annoying, you are annoying. 

I can go on and on, keep taking pot shots at you all, mostly because it is fun. But that’s not why I’m here, and that’s not my intent. It’s simple, if your job title has a tendency to not fit itself in that one coloumn, and is spilling over; stop. Relook at what kind of vibe you want to put out. If you have used words that sound great but mean literally nothing; stop, think about whether your professional career should hide behind a vanity tag. If you have, for some reason, given yourself a nickname; well then I’m sorry, I cannot help you because posturing is something you’ve chosen as a life decision, and that’s where I’ll leave it. 

No one wants to work with someone who seems to be either lying, or is delusional. No one wants to hire someone who is clearly over promising, and will surely underdeliver. In short, keep it simple. If you are talented, if you are important, if you are someone others will find value in; they will find you, and will be increasingly impressed as they peel your layers. Give them a chance, give yourself a chance, and most importantly stop influencing the clearly gullible who will be inspired by your profile, and the infection will stop. 

So, sit down, be humble. Or at least stop over selling yourself, no one cares for a hard sell. 

Advertising, or why Oglivy was right about the pianist in a whorehouse. 

​Marketing spoils advertising. In fact, marketing spoils everything. Marketing is the reason your newspaper is thicker in size and thinner in its concentration on actual news. Marketing is the reason you frequently change radio channels after every other song, just to avoid another annoying jingle. Marketing is the reason women need to take off their clothes, and men need to get on steriods. Marketing is the reason the streets are littered with hoardings blocking the sky, and marketing is the reason every social media platform today is a minefield of unwanted bot messages, targetted to you in person, without your permission. And that’s not just brand marketing, it’s politics too. It’s why people start TV channels, why they are still printing glossy magazines and why YouTube is the worst place for a content creator to be today. Because marketing is a cancer that spreads with no regard for freedom or the concept of decency. Aggressively too. Marketing is why people are demographics, and sentiments are mapped. Marketing is the honey trap, and you are the fly. 

Don’t believe me? Fine. Look around you, turn on any channel on TV, go watch any video on YouTube, flip through any magazine. It’s everywhere. It’s inescapable. And that’s by design. Look at what they are selling, how they are selling it, who they use it to sell it, and what language are they using. It’s all calculated. It’s all data, which could had been used to change things, but is instead used to keep things the same. Parity, is what they want. That is why all your celebrities are from marketing heavy verticals – Movies, TV, cricket. It’s either a mummfied Bachhan still clawing his way to sell you anything between cement to white goods, or an up & coming cricketer or some such. The ones who take a different route, is because that is also strategy. This is the reason there are terms like TRP, footfalls, viewcounts etc. These are quantifying metrics developed to breed mediocrity. The absurd rise of ‘planners’ is a testimony to that. 

Many big agencies, both advertising and PR, have used this tool under the guise of research. They have used data points, fake vox pop, staged consumer feedback to sell their utterly mediocre ideas. And the marketing manager has bought it. Because why innovate, when you can potate? Why let the creative sell creatively, when the planner can plan it for you. Why go to the corners of an idea when everyone feels safe in the middle. Why worry about morality, ethics, values, passion when you have excel sheets to circle jerk off to? That is the reason marketing is the worst thing ever, especially in India. It’s the antithesis of everything good. It’s the reason poitically correct exists, because the channels want those marketing dollars to run themselves, and those marketing dollars insist on pleasing everyone, there by pleasing none. It’s the reason risque is bad, vanilla is good. New is scary, so why go there. Just keep using the washed up, the trending, the morally corrupt, until the research numbers show otherwise, and then drop them like the steaming bag of you know what they are, and move on to the next teet. Sex sells is a marketing line. Conditions apply is a marketing line. Targetted marketing, social profiling, behaviour targetting are all marketing lines. And if you dont understand why those are horrifying, you have never worked in and around marketing. National pride is a marketing gimmick, politics is too. So is social trending, influencer marketing, and rural optimization. It’s the opposite of good, it’s the opposite of decent and it bothers me. It bothers me because today Penguin wont let young writers put their narrative in their language, it wont let artists express out of the lines of what they consider marketable, and that is the reason they will censor your movies, your songs, your content. Bcoz marketing has no balls, just like it has no spine, or shame. Marketers will use, manipulate, milk any issue if they could get away with it. That is why everyone of them panicked at the rise of social media, but they have that under control now too. Facebooks, Youtubes, Twitters of the world could give less of an eff about you or your freedom of speech if it meant they were losing on their advertisers. 

The problem is that wherever there are people, the salesmen will reach. And turn it into a market. Amazon is literally placing its bots in your home with alexa. There is no hiding, there is no running away. And I’ve been a part of this rut for almost sixteen years now. The rush is insane, the power you weild is palpable, and it’s very easy to forget morality when dealing with demographics & Target Audiences, that at the end of the day, what one is doing is mass manipulation on a daily, hourly basis. It took me a while to course correct and want to steer my ship towards pure creative. And thus it’s astonishing to me that David Ogilvy, saw this coming so long back when he said ‘Dont tell my mother i work in Advertising, the poor woman thinks i am a pianist at a whorehouse’. Marketing can really be that disgusting a place. 
Advertising is dead. Long live advertising.