I got back yesterday from the Advertising Agencies Association of Indias’ (AAAI) ambitious take on the Cannes advertising festival. In Goa.
A bunch of cynical, arrogant and insecure people clustered around in groups whining about everything in sight.
This was a realization. And I will hold it against advertising forever. It turns normal people into cynical beings.
When we join this business we are told the importance of an opinion. On everything.
How it is essential to the formation of our character and how we must have an opinion.
Then we are told to be brave and voice our opinion. It’s a democracy.
Then, voice your opinion to everyone. You work in an advertising agency after all and not a bloody bank.
Be sure of your opinion.
It’s your baby, back it.
Don’t take shit from anyone.
You are better than the best.
And what happens as a result is that when we meet someone, we wait like Wasim Akram to see a gap between the bat and pad to slip in the Yorker. We wait for him/her to say something so that we can drop a smart one-liner that illustrates the point that you are a ‘chuth’ (dumb cunt) and I am a stud.
I personally think you have to be a really potent cocktail of stupidity, dumbness and pathetic personal values if you start disliking someone before you even talk to him.
And go on the offensive.
Small talk maybe hated by many but let me assure you, the beginning of every conversation, be it in the bedroom or boardroom, is small talk.
One may not like to indulge in small talk. But till God declares you God, learn to do things you don’t like. Be polite.
That’s humanity. And that’s the price we pay for living in this world. Be polite.
But Goa, Advertising and politeness have about 3500 pages between them in the unabridged dictionary.
And AAAI played its joker.
So in Goa, we have two advertising folk, flanked by their respective agency gangs, filtered down to branch/department/group forced into small talk.
And then what follows is an orgy of various geographical and cultural one liners.
My one liners are better than yours.
My opinions are better than yours.
I get laid more often.
I can drink more than you.
I have read more books than you.
I have watched more movies.
I have a better taste in music, food and clothes.
My boss is better than yours.
My agency does more billing (if you’re from JWT that is).
If you say milk is white I shall prove it’s black.
If you say it’s black, I shall prove it is white.
And if you, being a loser has no opinion on milk, come, I shall give you gyaan on the various shades of grey it consists.
Our sole purpose in life, by virtue of being in advertising, is to have the last word. Period.
We shall override senses, supercede generation gaps and pinch human sensitivities for something so trivial as the last word.
We go through immense pain, to prove to someone who we have just met and most probably will never meet again, (despite it being a small world) that we are superior.
Advertising Folk, especially creative people are very vain. Nothing in the world is better than a pat on the back. No matter whom it comes from. And that is good because it pushes them to create and guard good creative communication work.
But somewhere down the line, our insecurity has got the better of us. And we have lost the plot. Have you ever wondered why advertising people spend so much of time in office. Yeah…besides the reason that the top honchos can enjoy some caviar and cigar…It is because there are very few people outside of those who we work with who like us.
Few non advertising people. Because besides school / college / office people, our collective propensity to make new friends, nosedives. We may bebrilliant, but lonely.
Courtesy, sensitivity and concern for others are traits that win friends world over. But when you are breeding an environment of ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude, trust me, it is carried outside office. You’re best friends with someone who doesn’t give a fuck either.
And when office hours are 12-16 a lot of it is carried.
There are exceptions to this. And they too will agree with me. More so because they have managed to escape this rut…
But Goa showed me some other sights. Which further brought insights…let me play ‘share-share’ with you…
I saw people with neat Portfolio CD’s all labeled and stickered with their names, contact info and their very favorite one-liner or quote. To hand out to Creative Directors of other agencies. While attending the GoaFest at their agencies cost. Instant deals are cracked because if I just met someone from agency X, I’ll be nice to him so that he can introduce me to his National Creative Director…
I saw people breaking up in the middle of the Ad Village while others just looked on. “all you wanted to do you bastard was sleep with me and now that you have got what you wanted you want space…” and the girl stomping away after roping in the sex life of the guys father, mother, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and the other left out relatives. And yes, accusing them all of incest.
We attended a barge party which abruptly decided to halt the ferry service to the land at 1 am. To 3 am. So the same bunch of spoilt, cynical and arrogant bastards were now tanked up with booze, pumped up with weed and stranded on a barge in the middle of the ocean.
And realizing that the ferry was off, all those who otherwise had no other plans besides continuing with the free booze developed a sudden urge to leave.
They fought. They puked. They fought again…
They made Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and collectively the entire team of James Cameron proud when the service was resumed at 3.
I was out at 12:30. Thank god…
And the whiners.
Yes, they are everywhere. You see according to our fraternity, everything is bad. Except the free booze that is.
The timing of the GoaFest was bad.
The location is bad.
South Goa? Too dull.
The hotel is bad.
Park Hayatt? Too uptight.
The schedule is bad.
Who wants to attend lectures in the afternoon?
The facilities are bad.
The loo is a make shift box on the beach.
The seating is bad.
The beach is bad.
The water is bad.
The para gliding assistant is bad.
The banana boat is bad.
The music is bad.
The food is bad.
The crowd is bad.
The barge party was declared bad last night itself.
The ads are bad.
The ones that won are worse.
That creative director is bad.
That agency is bad.
That idea is bad.
The arrangement is bad.
All in all everything you see is bad, and if I was consulted before all of it was finalized I would have given you my opinion and thus spared you the agony of facing my wrath. And yes, your world will turn upside down if I am not happy…
Big Fucking Deal!!!
Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one. And in Goa, I realized most of us use ours to talk. The moment you see someone who tries extra hard to look intelligent by asking smart questions and dropping funny but inane one liners you got to the Ad Village.
(I have generously used the word ‘we’ in this post. That is because I think I am no different. I am guilty for most of the things written here myself. But I don’t think this is how I want to be.
And this is not meant to sound like a generalization. It is. )
I love this industry. I love my job. I love the people I know here. Some of them, and they know who, are dearer to me than life. And trust me, all I say cannot change the fact that we are in the second most exciting profession known to mankind and an agency is a wonderful place to work in. But people, wake up.
Drop that wall from around you. Break out of your cocoon. Stop being so bloody cynical…Everybody is not dumb. Everything is not bad. Remember the positive power of words. Try to genuinely like someone.
See some humanity near you. There is lots of it around…even in that ‘chuth’ from O&M…