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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bussiness of Advertising

Creative burnout


AMONG the primary reasons for people moving out of the advertising industry is the condescending attitude that prevails between the client and the advertising agency. "There is no real sense of ownership that the agency experiences or rather is allowed to experience in terms of the brand," says Gautam Shiknis, founder and managing director of Palador Cinema.
He elaborates: "I used to work for Saatchi & Saatchi and was fortunate to be working on a brand like Procter & Gamble (P&G). My team was instrumental in achieving the brand positioning for a number of P&G's personal care products, including Head & Shoulders. So, we all felt an emotional connection with the product and identified it as our brand. However, neither did the market acknowledge this nor did the client. Once, at a meeting with the P&G brand manager and a few others, someone from our agency alluded to Head & Shoulders as our brand. This had everyone, particularly the P&G brand manager, looking rather surprised."


According to Shiknis, the dynamics of ownership in terms of brands is largely determined by money. He says: "It is not the people who are involved in the creative process of brand building but the people who pay for getting the creative work done who ultimately own the brand." But, then, doesn't getting promotions at an early age compensate? "Not really," says Kaustav Sen, who was a creative director with a leading advertising firm for seven years. He reasons: "It is a rather faceless industry. The credit for outstanding creative work is accorded to the agency as a whole and never to the individuals who are involved in creative conceptualisation. And though various awards recognise creative contribution at an individual level and compensate to an extent, the fact remains that by and large creative professionals are faceless entities."
Sen also cites creativity in advertising being sublimated by the client's brief as another reason for people leaving the advertising world. He adds: "Sooner or later, most creative people experience frustration and move out to other domains that offer more creative license."


On the other hand, a senior copy supervisor for an advertising agency in Gurgaon says that it isn't always a feeling of saturation that causes people to exit the industry. She feels that, in a way, the change is a done thing considering "almost everyone who enters the industry has a long-term plan to eventually progress into an allied sector." She elaborates: "By the age of 30-35, one is already a creative director and then the only job left is that of a managing creative director (MCD). However, considering there are only some 10-odd positions for MCDs in the country, it isn't a viable option for the hundreds that are employed by advertising agencies. As a result, one remains a creative director for a considerable amount of time and the only option left, then, is to change careers."
Another trend that she points out is that people from creative divisions are most likely to change careers. " But, this change isn't as much about the job as it is about the person. Creatives are restless by nature, which is probably why they are most likely to change careers," she explains.


According to Atish Munshi, senior copy supervisor, Quadrant Communications - Pune: "People move to other sectors because remunerations there are much higher. Besides, today, there are a variety of options for advertising professionals to choose from. For instance, there is digital media, which more or less requires the same set of skills but pays much better."
Adding to the same, Rahul Ghosh, creative director, TBWA-Mumbai, says: "A career in an advertising agency exposes an individual to multiple domains like films, print, art and radio. However, there is not much scope for specialisation. Hence, the people who want to specialise in one domain eventually venture out. For instance, people who are interested in artwork set up their own design studios, copywriters go onto scriptwriting for films and so on."


Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that at present the advertising industry is prone to a high rate of attrition. So, what needs to be done to control this? "There is a clear need for visionaries in advertising," says Shiknis. He opines: "The advertising industry has to undergo an attitudinal shift within itself so that on one level, it can retain and nurture talent and on a parallel level, it can contribute much more to the nation's GDP. They have to move beyond the 15% commission theory in terms of client billings and work towards improving economies of scale."
Highlighting the scope for improvement in the HR department, Shiknis adds: "At present, the HR division is very restrictive in its scope and does not go beyond issuing appointment letters. This needs to be changed." And according to Sen, "The HR division should work closely with the management to map out growth opportunities within the agency for individual employees."

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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