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Whose brand are they building anyway?

It was early in my advertising years. I was at an interview with a celebrated Creative Director at one of the big agencies in Bangalore. Eager as I was to put my best foot forward, I started talking him through the ads. He stopped me and told me something I still remember. "You won't be there to explain the ad to every reader of a newspaper." Things have changed much since then. We now have social media. Ads are created, and if you haven't caught it on TV or in the papers, there is the grand release on Facebook. 
Now there's absolutely nothing wrong in putting your work out on Facebook for people to see, and all would be well if it stopped there.
But no.
The talking up begins shortly thereafter. The ad is explained. The “idea” is put on a pedestal. It's called a game changer. The agency chief pats the team on their backs. The team gushes over the big man's attention, but insist they couldn't have done it without their ACD, SCD, ECD and OCD, not to mention…

The big agency talent hunt

Today we look at hiring methods in big advertising agencies. First stop, the account management department.

In the not so recent past, account management was by and large populated by people with a management degree. Now that didn't guarantee any level of management expertise, but there was an above average chance of the occurrence of above average intelligence.

Then one day, clients started to cut the remuneration they paid the ad agency. The 15% agency commission was the first to go. It went down and down and then disappeared altogether. This obviously impacted ad agencies, where starting salaries started to compare with pocket money and increments became a five year plan. 

So the formally dressed fraternity started to look for greener pastures. Some of them found their way into client offices from where they realised they could pay back the agency for all the hard times they'd endured. Others who weren't as fortunate found a more elevated perch for themselves at the agency…

A hole in the bucket

Around 20 years ago, I spent a lot of time in ad agency lobbies. And while hanging out there to meet creative directors, I entertained myself at the soft board where crisp prints of the agency's work were usually tacked in neat lines.

Those were the days when ad agencies took pride in their print portfolio, and creative teams competed for a spot on the coveted board and in the daily newspaper.

The odd creative ad or two every day made the newspaper worth reading beyond the sports page. They also drew rookie writers to seek a career in advertising.

Ironically back then, Indian wins at international advertising festivals were few and far between.

Today, print work from India strikes metal in almost every ad fest around the world. Yet, newspapers and magazines bear embarrassing testimony to Indian advertising's creative skills.

So then, where exactly are the ads that win seeing the light of day?

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