What I would like to tell aspiring creatives
Alpna Manchanda

Alpna Manchanda

Advertising Consultant, traveler,

What I would like to tell aspiring creative persons in advertising

JWT as we knew it is gone. But if the traditional big agencies are dying it doesn’t mean advertising is dying too.

The fiats and ambassadors of yesterday have been replaced by smarter models that work better for the clients of today. Schbang, Glitch, Merkle Sokrati, and our homegrown Webchutney are pulling in the clients.  The new kids on the block know how it works. And as long as AI does not replace copywriters and art directors, the people taking up these jobs can learn something from the wisdom of those gone before them.

Never ignore the brief or the brand personality

Agencies are full of egotistical creative persons who ignore the brief and brand voice and insist they know best. If you are advertising a well-established brand, respect what the client, the marketing managers, and the strategists have to say. After all, they have been successfully selling their products and services long before you arrived on the scene.

Words like ‘I think’ and ‘client should’ have weight only when you have the data and the experience to back them.

Decide – are you in it for your monthly salary. Or to explore creative possibilities.

Before starting a project, do you do any sort of background research? or do you take everything the client and the servicing person says as the boundaries within which you have to think?

Here is where the agency structure plays determines the amount of background work you will have to do. A strong strategy team and professional Servicing teams give creative teams the brief on a platter. All questions are answered and you can spend your time doing what you were hired to do.

But, even in the biggest of agencies, servicing people are known to come back from client meetings and long con-calls only to repeat every single word the client just said. When that happens – you have to be prepared to either write the brief yourself and get it approved before getting down to work. Or follow the path of resistance. I’ve forgotten the number of times I said – ‘give me an oral brief and I will give you an oral creative campaign.’

Make friends with the strategy team. Or else make them your enemies and put up a good fight

A very wise person once said ‘creatives are strategic’ and ‘strategists are creative’. And although every agency needs both, even the minimal overlapping nature of their roles often creates unnecessary conflict. Learn to work with it rather than against it. And if you are in a small agency with no strategist in sight, go the extra mile. Seek help to build some sort of strategy. Selling your ideas will become that much easier.

Stay curious

The best ideas come from imaginative play and your powers of observation. Listen to the client’s insights after all he or she knows the product and the market better than you do. Watch reactions, ask probing questions. Notice the unusual and you will be sure to come up with ideas that everyone loves.

Remain positive and develop a thick skin

Like all the other creative snobs you meet in every agency, you can wear your facade of experienced cynicism as a garb but don’t yourself get fooled into believing it. Look at every new brief as an opportunity to learn, explore and showcase your talent. If you are told to go back to the drawing board, do so with enthusiasm. Remember sometimes the best ideas come after the first ones have been rejected.

It’s Ok to make mistakes and not know everything

If you made a genuine mistake just say sorry and move on. And if someone else goofed up do the same. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions – you cannot possibly know everything about everything, even Google doesn’t.

Ego! Do you let go of it or hang on to it?

All the superheroes of advertising I ever met were humble, easy to talk to when it was 1 on 1. And when it came to work, they were focussed, hard-working and demanding of other team members. Outside that zone, they looked walked and talked like true egotistical b—–ds. I suppose developing a persona does that to some and at some level, posturing is a game they feel they need to master.

But then, you have to develop a stature and a reputation with your work before you start throwing that sort of attitude. Until then keep your head down and swallow that ego.

Have Patience

When making ads or creating campaigns do not make another ad campaign the source of your inspiration. It’s tacky and the ‘me too’ or ‘also ran’ tag will stick. Go ahead, Google for information like ‘Top headlines that get the highest response rates’ or whatever. But don’t make them your master. Experiment. Be adventurous. And if the need arises argue for the right to be a more effective communicator.

The AI sword is hanging over your head. Do something different. It’s better to go out in a blaze of glory rather than a soft whimper, to a computer-generated design and headline.

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