Sunday, November 12, 2006

My dream's all a-shattering! (or in good ol' hindi - Sapna mera... toot gaya)

"Live Life King Size"..."Relax, Have a Charminar"..."Only Vimal"... "Gold Spot, the Zing Thing!". These are some of the lines I had heard while still in college.

The imagery was vivid. Cool dudes, with babes wrapped around them, or just a macho loner blowing smoke into nothingness, happy teenagers freaking out in amusement parks, or desirable looking men and women walking the ramp!

These were the images which came to mind when I first walked the aisles of an advertising agency. Mind was working overtime about how, very soon, yours truly will be hob-nobbing with all these desirable women. Further, it was thinking, once this hob-nobbing begins, who knows what may happen next (these were still the times when all you sought from friends was an intro to that girl with curls, with the cool airs of being able to handle the rest yourself with panache - all you felt you needed was a cool bike!).

Starry eyed, I walked into this industry. First few weeks were all about understanding how the industry functioned - inane things like creative, account management, production, studio, and even more inane things like how we make money here.

All this just didn't seem real. But then, I consoled myself that I am new. Surely, once you put in some years in the industry, all this will change, and magically all that I imagined will just appear in front of my eyes.

While all this was happening, some more cool dude imagery was making its way to the idiot box. And that was further reinforcing the belief, that surely the dream I had when I joined the industry, was lurking somewhere just around the corner.

The wait of weeks turned to months, and then to years. Every passing day was filled with increasingly drier stuff like customer insights for mosquito repellents and baby soaps. I came across all kinds of things - like the Capfarer model, the P-Snap, the ABC, and the NRS. What kept eluding me were the models, who were shapely. Not that I didn't go for shoots, or auditions, or events, or recordings; but then, all such visits to locations and studios were filled with extreme stress about deadlines, budgets, approvals, continuity, props, etc.

Though I can boast of a decent IQ, but the thought never crossed my mind that probably this industry is really all about such stuff, and not about glamour. I continued to wait for the next turn, where the scenery will change, and suddenly the cool climes which I had always associated with this industry, will sooth the otherwise stressed out default life one lives, being a part of this industry.

But while I was waiting, something strange started to happen. For some masochistic reason, I started to enjoy it all. The little dream hadn't died, but while it wasn't coming true, I started to enjoy just the wait, and all that was happening during the wait. I became an ad-world junky.

The next campaign, the next award, the next insight, became the things I started to wait for, and not the next comely lass! And believe you me, these became more fulfilling than the dream that brought me into the industry in the first place.

Now the dream seldom recurs. And the hope of that dream coming true has completely vanished. A new dream has replaced it. The dream of understanding the customers even better, creating even more single-minded, even more persuasive communication, a dream of creating a unique strategy for some unique problem some brand is facing. And strangely, I am a lot calmer, as a result.

Working hard at achieving this new dream has become extremely rewarding - both literally and figuratively. And now, when someone asks me that if I had a choice of making my choices all over again, my answer is - "My choice will be the same, albeit for different reasons."

I am telling this personal story for the benefit of all those young, starry-eyed people who possibly are wanting to enter, or have entered the industry for all the wrong reasons. Enter they must, but they should do so with their eyes wide open, and making their choice with an eye on the right reasons. And, most certainly, they will be rewarded!


finding thyself said...

An insightful one. The general perception of any industry is the glossy eye catchy exterior finish.... seldom people see the inside truths and workings.

Ankit Desai said...

A very truthful post... I can say almost the same thing about my work and completely love your post... probably because I can relate to it... :-)