We the cynics

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’m smarter.
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.
Too hot.
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.
All scam.
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…


Anonymous said...

You said it man, and you said it well- thats my opinion!
Thank god you wrote this- about time someone did.

zeena said...

hi Harjee,

Nice one.
Well, it's a competition among creative minds. And you can smell their pride from across the miles.
Then again, theyre everywhere, like gremlins.
Well, the challenge is to stomach them without turning into one of them.
Oh well. Easier said than done.

karmic_jay said...

Interesting post :) had fun reading it. Maybe it's the way it is because the adfolks are constantly trying to sell people stuff...concepts,ideas or products?
Soon they try to do that to one other..am better than ya types.
Its pretty human and vain too.


Hey..I peeked into the ad world, some parts of it atleast!! So very different from the others tht I am familiar with...I would be lying if I said I understoof everything and loved it because I am reading this concept for the first time....I get the underlying current tht is vested out in this post...A few lines I adored----
"Be sure of your opinion.
It’s your baby, back it.
Don’t take shit from anyone.
You are better than the best."
These lines give me some sort of a boost to voice out in any situation!!

faith said...

Be sure of your opinion.
It’s your baby, back it.
Don’t take shit from anyone.
You are better than the best."

liked these lines a lot..
interesting post harjee.. i think Ad world is the most competetive world ..

Why Am I said...

pretty strong post i must say..drifted across when i visited scribblez's post...thanks for throwing lite on the statement she had blogged about!

Queen Bee said...

I agree! If only those people see themselves in the mirror. They are so insecure...

Mathanki said...

"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."

- I couldnt disagree more. But i guess its pretty subjective cos among the many people I met in Goa, I didnt run into anyone arrogant or cynical or insecure. They were just a bunch of mad people getting high on booze and the sunset and having a ball.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

itz not only advertising ... even IT does the same to you

cynical , sarcastic , inconsiderate , impatient , intolerant ....

what more do u want ?

the higher the salary , the more intolerant and snobish u become

ishita said...


interesting...but then again, I feel this might not just be limited to advertising...isn't this what most ppl are getting to be like?...

well...it's a post i'd like to show a good many ppl arnd me too (and none from the ad world!)...!!

hmmm...hope u have a good wkend harjee...got u blogrolled:)

someone out there said...

arey that was a good read man... thats my opinion and i used it to talk...

yep... most of the ppl have lost the prespective. the spirit of one upmanship is there to stay... coz the better you prove yourself the fatter is your paypacket... and money is the only thing ppl care bout these days.... everyone is prey to this... me , you , everybody...

exasparater said...

longggggg posttttt!!!!!!!!

nice one man!!! "muses of harjeee???"

Anonymous said...

--- Every bit of what you described happens in advertising. AND in politics, the movies, the music industry, the fashion industry, the literary world, marketing, journalism, art, organized religion; I could just go on with the list. It's not so much a function of the industry we are in, as it is of the world we're living in.

And advertising doesn’t turn its people into cynics. Having to survive does. Whether it’s having to survive in advertising, or anywhere else.

--- Thanks for sharing your angst. It was entertaining. Advertising would cease to be advertising without those wild drunken soirees where everyone can puke on people they don’t like, thrash their bosses in public, generally make complete asses of themselves, and hope everyone was drunk enough to not remember anything the next morning.

--- “Opinion”, like “insight”, “bigidea”, “brandidentity” and “innovation”, is one of the most abused words in the advertising world. And if you look closely, you’ll find three things:

1. That people very often mistake assholes for opinions. Any statement laced with generous amounts of spit and “bhenchod” becomes an opinion. Just like “the average indian housewife breathes every morning after she wakes up” becomes an insight because your marketing manager’s boss’ boss’ boss’ boss accidentally caught his wife at it yesterday morning after he woke up.

2. That in most cases, the only things original that these people have are their assholes. Because their opinions are borrowed.

3. That there’s one thing worse than having that fucking opinion. And that’s not having one.

But all this, is just my opinion.

And I’m an opinionated asshole who opted out from the second most exciting profession in the world.

I opted out because I don’t take advertising and its repercussions seriously. I’d suggest you don’t either.

Have fun. That’s what you’re meant to do in advertising.

PS: What, according to you, is the most exciting profession the world?

Demi Goddezz said...

a good read... well written... and yes u cud add me:)

Yashita said...

wonderful post...like the others have already said it...this happens everywhere..doesn't it?? one can witness the same scene in any party...even a college party for that matter!

and yes, in this world of competition, everyone has to out-smart the other...so the insecurity and all the attitude...but still I am sick of the "I-don't-give-a-fuck-" attitude of ppl!!

and like anon said, worse is of u don't have an opinion!:)nice post...

Anonymous said...

It's extremely heartwarming and amusing to see so many of the ol' advertising folk post such honest comments on something that was written about the advertising folk.

On the blog, well Harjee, it seems to have achieved more than what it set out to achieve.

Kudos on that.

Harjee Kapur said...

I agree all this happens everywhere.
But this post is not about the fact that people are like this everywhere.
It is about the question whether you want to be one of them.

N2 : Thank you N2. Most people I see have taken it personally.
Zeena : Thank you darling. It was exactly about that. I DO NOT want to turn into that…
Karmic Jay : I know…but vanity and all is fine as long as you don’t make a mockery of yourself in public. AdFolk are usually standing in the corner near the bar at non ad parties….for this very reason…
Scribbles (DM): It’s one of the best places to be. And the killer instinct, as you call it is best bred here. This post just pointed out some areas o strain…otherwise…take my word for it, the agency job rocks!
Faith: Trust me it is…
Why Am I : yeah…it was meant to be strong. Glad I managed it :-) thanks.
Queen Bee: I would not agree to such harsh tones. At some level we all are insecure…but I just highlighted the how’s and all of the ad industry…
Mathanki : … don’t know what to say…you may have drifted along to a different beach…moreover you yourself are such a sweetheart that everyone seems sweet to you ;-)
Deepa: I agree. But salaries have nothing to do with it. It is the inert guilt of knowing that you are being paid more than you should, you try to one up yourself at every level.
But don’t worry….I’ll change all that… ;-)
Ishita : The weekend was fabulous….thank you. And thanks for the blogroll… though I doubt many would be interested in this banter of fancy…
Someone out there: I agree…we are no different…but money is not the only thing. No…not yet. We haven’t lost perspective to that magnitude as yet…methinks there are still some shreds of hope being driven on passion….
Exasperater : Well, guess I got you exasperated… yeah… musings would be an almost correct definition. But honestly, I named my blog ‘Chakraviyuh’ for a reason….not just because it sounds awesome…
Anonymous : Touche’
Demi Goddess : thank you :-)
Yashita : thanks… I agree…But it is one thing to have an opinion, another to voice it, but when you wage war with nothing but your flimsy opinion as arsenal, one ends up looking like well…an asshole. This was the point that out dear anon missed. And I would have replied to all those things he said but then again I felt, if someone is so scared of his opinion, or ashamed of his asshole, or both, that he doesn’t even write a name, well... I shall not bother with it.
I hate that attitude too…just that am currently struggling to snap out of it myself…
Thanks for the compliment…cant write half as well as you though…
Nishant (anon 2) : thanks. Though next time you can log in and leave a comment. It’s your asshole…ooops I mean opinion….voice it.


aakriti said...

The harsh, bitter truth of advertising. But hey! Truth can be quite a funny thing sometimes. I couldn't help but chuckle after every few lines.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like anonymous opinions (or a******s) on your blog, you could save yourself the trouble of second guessing why they don't leave names or haranguing them about it, by simply deleting the option from the comments section.


chandni said...

nice rant...err..post!!!

No, serious!

You said, you're in the second most exciting profession...what's the first??

Anand said...

Finally get to read a honest post!!
Glad u wrote it as bluntly as this!...

Harjee Kapur said...

Aakriti: Thank you :-)
Anon: It is for people with REAL names and REAL identities but without a blogspot or msn ID. Courtesy demands you write your name at the bottom of the comment… but then again…am I being rhetoric with you…?
Chandni: Thank you :-) the second most exciting profession would be the one that covers a bigger viewing audience than ads… and that is films. Sorry but no twist in the tale here
Anand: Thank you :-) keep visiting. You shall always find the posts as honest and blunt…



Manic Street Preacher said...

oh harjee!! fellow cancerian!!!do u know how depressed i became readin ur post. man. i was hopin mebbe id join the ad world whn im done wid studyin....(which seems lika distant dream)..i heard the money's good.
but it was AWESOME. the entire post got me hooked. man u rock!

luckysanjana said...

Well well, someone seems to have gotten extremely popular since i last visited. and that someone seems to have gotten insightful too. Well like someone said if you know what your problem is then its already half solved. so way to go Harjee . I guess its just a matter of time before you get through the other half. It takes a man to stand up and admit he has a problem so i really appreciate the "We" in yout post.

Anonymous said...

hey... pitty i dont have time read this long advertising story, because i have to write some more headlines...:) but im pretty jelous you were on Goa. i hope ill come there soon again...

that girl in pink said...

it's true. we advertising types really are full of shit. and the funniest part is that we think the world revolves around us and the work we do actually makes a difference to anyone. i really wish we'd stop taking ourselves so seriously.

heard about the goa fest from a lot of people - especially the infamous barge party. glad to know you made it out in time.

you haven't posted anything since the poem...post soon!

Amit said...

Amazing post... Rockin' Place!

Keep up the Good stuff!

kandykane said...

i started off as an advertising executive, and gave it up after the first couple of months.. mayb i lost my patience too early.. but i probably could never fit in the big bad world of advtg anyway.. I m glad u survived !

Nikster said...

that was brilliant. very true...i have no dealings with/in the ad world but I guess its exactly how u say it is...I always had a feelin bout it being that way...glad that its coming from the horse's mouth..very well written..brutally honest.

Fidha said...

enjoyed reading you post..sneak peek into ad world..interesting ...to read..but no way to know how far it is true...cos the only people in ad world i know are...2 people including u..both of whom i like and think dont fit the description...so i guess i have to go deeper into the jungle to find the true meaning of waht u wrote..anyway..like the one liners in bestsellers..."compelling"...hi hi...

ravi deshpande said...

a brick is a brick is a brick.