‘Is that like how they show on the Mad Men series?’ a friend of mine asked me once when I explained to her an advertising campaign I was working on. I only cared to smirk, thinking that besides the obvious, (copywriters jotting ideas on whiteboards and corkboards, people hanging around with an overall fun vibe and enjoying the glamorous perks), there are behind the shoot scenes that add to the brand building.
From a bright sunny day to down in the dumps, a day in the world of an Ad Agency can be anything in between (and even more). And what we need here is not an isolated soul but a collective ‘chalk and cheese’ kind of brainstorming. Yes, here we need too many cooks to create the broth (read brand).
So let’s get going and give you a glimpse of what our conventional, a no 9 to 5 day looks like!
Scene 1: I swear by the Bible of Advertising, this was the brief!
Servicing: This is not what the client wants. I told you this will not work. Creative: Eh, that’s your job to convince the client. Maybe, you don’t know how to! Servicing: I told you not to use sweet and cheesy words. What I had asked was to sugar-coat it!
The creative guy now thinks that it’s probably better to bang his head against the wall!
If you see something like this, right early in the morning, you can safely assume how things shape up when the day at the agency ends.
Our customary day revolves around pitches, briefs, layouts and approvals (besides a lot of slangs, back to back cups of coffee and endless cigarettes). And the man who runs the show is the Advertising Account Manager. He is the link between the client and the entire agency team. His job is to lead the agency’s ideas presentation, ensuring the ideas remain faithful to the brief. But his other task also remains to deal with the so-called Creative Team and that’s where the day at a typical ad agency begins. When the entire loop from briefing to creating the content and the design is completed and the final thing is rejected by the client, everything boils down to the wrong brief and that the Servicing is good for nothing kind of an attitude. However, at the end of the day, after a lot of censored words going back and forth between the Creative and the Servicing, they pull the RABBIT out of the HAT.
Scene 2: Depending on my mood, I will see the glass half full or half empty
On the floor, if you see a guy sitting in a flamboyant glass cabin and wearing one of those polished suits - he is probably the Creative Director. Intelligent- yes, with a creative edge -yes, moody – well, YES (in capital letters). A Creative Director, in an ideal scenario approves campaigns and ideas and has over the years acquired the art of idea conversation along with a fair sense of market scenario and business needs.
Approaching him requires a lot of will power and a special skill to deal with erratic arguments. Most of the time, you will see a junior copywriter or a designer, sweating, hoping that this fellow buys his or her idea without much of a scene.
‘Today I am going to convince him that we should probably take this new route for brand communication’, this junior wonders. But when he goes into the cabin, the Creative Director is already in a mood to turn him down.
CD: Are you done with the brief that I gave you? Junior: Yes Sir CD: What about it? Junior: Sir, we can show a big house and the couple standing there joyfully. CD: Maybe, but a car will make a difference. Junior (not knowing how a car will make a difference): Yes Sir CD: Good, so get this rolling and tell them about my big idea. Junior: Sorry Sir, which idea? CD: About the big house, the couple and the car! Junior: Oh yes Sir, your big idea.
While walking out of his cabin, the junior gives his co-workers, ‘Today I am going to visualise him on the dartboard!’ look.
But besides some light humour, the Creative Director is one of those guys who will tell the juniors to fall back on him when they feel it’s going nowhere. You will see him on the floor constantly engaging and encouraging the team.
Scene 3: Maybe a penny more, but not a penny less
A usually chirpy office (music and lyrics that you can’t reckon, telephones ringing, Servicing and Creative arguing for the fifth time since morning) when suddenly goes quiet, you know who is walking down the floor! Of course, pitches, brainstorming and briefing sessions are important, but so is the collection!
So you have a boss who will make you have free beers, will give you extra perks and once in a while tell you what great work you are doing. But other than that, he will go awry when payments from the client’s end are delayed or when he will feel that the Account Managers or the Finance Team has settled for a laid back mood (most of the time he will see the latter).
And a typical scene goes something like this where the boss will make you count everything - how many beers you had in the last annual meet, even how many you did not after ordering and wasting money.
Boss: Do you know how much the electricity bill cost this month? The Account Manager wonders what has this to do with my client’s payment. Boss: This new coffee machine costs a ton. Do you even realise?
The entire office including, these guys who are on their death knell are sure his wife probably haven’t liked the anniversary present.
Well, Advertising is one such challenging profession where you get to deal with a lot of different things every day. It is an indirect encompass of various roles where one is expected to be the Jack of all Trades.
So a typical day in an agency just can’t boil down so simply. There is still a lot of drama that my friend who asked about the Mad Men series does not realise while reading a hoarding, a smart one liner on one of the apps or while flipping the newspaper ads randomly.
While you are here, go through some other informational blogs until I come back to you with the second half drama. To be continued...