Thursday, September 27, 2007

“Yes Boss”

presents facts that are stranger than fiction. Honest! Ready? Lets go….

The huge Boss-man, looking disturbingly similar to an over-fed frog, seated on a massive filmy throne-like chair in a room right out of a seventies Bollywood villains den, stared hard at the young, fresh-faced Account Executive. From time to time, he sighed and nodded his head, left to right, indicating cosmic sorrow. Eventually, wisdom descended from the lotus-lipped. “Yaar kuch jama nahin! Sab Ghatiya!”

With these deadly words, he flung the eight ads (that the agency had prepared in 2 hours flat) towards him and began again. “Look beta, don’t take it personally. I like you and you know that, hai na? We’ve been interacting for the last two months, kitna masaa se kyun? I know you guys can deliver the goods if you put your dil & jaan to it…So go back and do something really creative, jo dekhte hi ghanti bajne lagey!”

The young executive (cultured, educated, soft-spoken, professionally trained in one of Mumbai’s top ad agencies) attempted to say something, but was cut short immediately. “Bachcha, aage bhi kaha, anpadh aadmi hoon main. Yeh tumhara angrezi advertising bhashan kuch samajh nahi aata. Bas achcha nahin laga to achcha nahin laga! If you people can’t give me something really hat ke, tell the others in your group that I’ll call other agencies. Line lagi hai, beta, ek phone ghumaon to…”

The man paused for breath. “My 17 year old bitiya can do better! She’s studying Mass Comm and she only told me that those designs are third class!”

Shaken and crushed at this onslaught, the young man rose, made the appropriate, polite sounds and returned to the office. On the way he wondered who these clients were and how they never existed, two months ago, in his life at the Mumbai-based agency. He was really fed up! The move to Delhi was totally wrong and he regretted his resignation, despite huge warnings from his pals.

Back at the office, his boss, instead of consoling him, blew a fuse. “Who told you to lagao speeches and teach him advertising? Do you know… He’s owned & managed his organization successfully for 25 years?” That did it for the kid. He finally, exploded. “Look here, dumbo, I‘ve put up with your nonsense about us being a service industry, but the Boss is God for a little too long. Your stupid client produces cloth, not quality advertising, okay? But you won’t understand the difference because you, like him, are basically a halwai! A 24X7 order supply dalal! You don’t understand the first thing about quality professionalism or focus – it’s only billing at any cost! That doesn’t suit me because it’s injurious to my professional health! I am quitting with immediate effect! Goodbye!” With that he stormed out of the room. The agency head (lala?) was too stunned to speak. He quickly gulped down a glass of water & reached for his favourite fix–pan parag…

Ladies and gentleman you have just read a true-to-life incident gleaned from adland. The smart, young, ambitious and talented client servicing person lured away with big bucks and promises to introduce a new work ethic, was badly disillusioned. “Doesn’t professionalism count for anything?” he asked himself in frustration and despair…
Of course it does! Otherwise luminaries like Elsie Nanjee, Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, Santosh Desai, Arun Nanda, George John, Pralhad Kakkar, Alyque Padamse, Ram Ray and Mohammed Khan couldn’t be around with their outstanding contribution to the communication business in taking it to another level… We would only be lumped with “the Chawdi Bazar School of Advertising” – a genre in which any resemblance to the real thing is a startling coincidence! A group which is constantly exploring lower depths of the “Ji Huzzori” & sycophancy culture, trashing all norms of professional ethics, decorum & capabilities at the altar of bottom-line. Quality, integrity, relevance, impact – “Woh kya hai? Oye, ‘phatphat’ release kar pappe, client ad ko pass kar diya!”

The truth of the matter is simple. True blue/professionalism is about vision & values and always emanates from the top. It is the leader who sets the tone, defines the blueprint, articulates the direction, focus & philosophy of the organizational growth path. If he is of the belief that quality and growth are perfectly compatible, more friends than foes, then he is likely to earn both, big bucks and big respect from all who matter – employees, clients, peers, stakeholders & consumers.

If, on the other hand, he treats advertising like any other business – which it isn’t – then (despite making money) he will be looked upon as an unprofessional, down-market pariah, a trader/supplier who accidentally gate-crashed into the sophisticated world of advertising instead of hawking commodities at Chandni Chowk!.

At the end of the day, any entrant passionate about embarking on this fascinating creative journey into a world that deals with the business of ideas, must be warned to say ‘NO’ to these deadly ‘YES’ Boss types and resist succumbing to mediocrity...

Or rest assured, all his life his ears will be ringing with deathless slogans like East or West, our wear – under is best!


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