(This article was first published in the Nov-Dec 2014 edition of Aurora.)
Sometimes we need to remember why we do what we do. It may be the art of looking sideways; nevertheless it is time for some good old healthy navel gazing. Here is my gift to all the naysayers. Pull it out of the magazine and paste it in your cubicle. You will need a dose of a ‘few of my favourite things’ to remain sane and put up with the pain.
1. The power to change people
This is a business about changing people without them knowing it. We are the stealth secret agents of the world. Reaching into the deeper level of our audiences’ minds and telling them how to twist and lick the biscuit before they dip it in the milk. Our power knows no bounds; from creating boy and girl diapers (they serve the same purpose) to making people wear seat belts or bring about a revolution. It is propaganda and public service at the same time. How many human beings can call this their job description?
2. Being able to imagine 24/7
There are only two rules.
Rule 1: There are no rules. Rule 2: Don’t forget rule one. You walk in or out of work and all you carry with you is the wonder, awe and excitement of creating and imagining. Your brain never stops working. You don’t meet people, you meet stories. You look at every moment of life, experience, movie or book as potential research. It is not work, it is about going to a play area every day – and it is exciting.
"Unlike writers and painters who are alone in their struggle and self-doubt, in advertising creators are never alone. No project can ever have a single creator."
3. Never a dull moment
There is crisis, pressure, frustration and then there is winning new business. The voice of a client saying ‘approved’, seeing the results of a campaign and watching the sales graph go up. Crisis, elevation, resentment, victory – and all in a day’s work.
4. Always loud
The volume is always cranked up. The corridors resonate with laughter, cribbing, music and arguments. The walls are alive with the sound of opinions – never-ending opinions.
5. You are allowed to steal identities
The job demands that you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes every day. You become a master of disguise and don a dozen personas. To think like a 19-year-old cricket fan and then turn into a housewife worried about savings the next minute. Awesome!
"Advertising teaches us to be patient with ourselves and with others. We learn to step back, take deep breaths and face the problem again and again."
6. You are not alone
Unlike writers and painters who are alone in their struggle and self-doubt, in advertising creators are never alone. No project can ever have a single creator. Clients, teams, disciplines, all play a crucial role in giving birth to every creation.
Learn about medicines, finance, chocolates, cars and more. Imagine a bunch of less adorable Doras going around saying, “Where are we going today? Where are we going today?”
Advertising teaches us to be patient with ourselves and with others. We learn to step back, take deep breaths and face the problem again and again. Having worked for 15 years in this industry, I can safely say that I am a more patient mother and human being then I was before. If it doesn’t kill you – it makes you stronger. By this standard we are all superhuman.
Atiya Zaidi is Executive Creative Director, Synergy Dentsu. firstname.lastname@example.org