Published in May-Jun 2014
I have been at my new agency for a smidge over a month, but that time has been well spent, with lots going on to keep everyone busy. This is why when I started writing Branded Bubbles, I knew I had accumulated enough experience of the day-to-day routine to summarise it.
I thought of creative ways I could narrate my tale, but soon realised that I had spent a lot of time imagining my life as an advertisement, because this is what I do most comfortably. This form of storytelling is so familiar to me that when I need to describe anything, my mind slips into commercial mode. Although to be honest my days are usually a far cry from the gloss and glamour of ad land, but my curiosity was piqued: just how far from reality would my TVC be?
The ad… The film opens in the sunny bedroom of a not-so-young, but energetic, woman. She wakes up at the first sound of her alarm, stretches happily in bed, jumps up with a smile, turns on the music and starts her heart pumping exercise routine (although she is ‘naturally’ skinny). A quick grooming routine ensues (of course she doesn’t need much grooming) and she is now at the breakfast table with her loving family, chatting away as she nibbles on her whole wheat toast, fruit salad and glass of milk.
The reality… I wake up groggy and grumpy after I have hit the snooze button one too many times. I turn on the TV in the hope of REALLY waking up and crawl out of bed to dress (exercise? what’s that?).
My family knows I need an hour to myself before I can be unleashed on the world, so breakfast is a quiet affair; just me and some fried-egg fondness.
Hmm… Ok, maybe things aren’t so glamorous at home. Perhaps the office will make for a better film.
The ad… Cut to an ad agency. A smartly dressed woman skips up the steps to her office, greeting everyone along the way. Then making just enough time to park her designer bag, she is ready to hit her briefs with ideas and scripts. Her team, in awe of her effortless creativity, gathers around her for attention while making mental notes on awesomeness. Soon, more work comes their way and spearheaded by the fearless leader (aka the woman whose makeup never wears off), they are able to come up with brilliant ideas in quick brainstorming sessions and put them together in the blink of an eye – complete with strategy and 360 degree executions. Presentations of the ideas are smooth, slick and successful, with clients all but giving the team a standing ovation. Everyone skips back to the office to celebrate, relax and polish their awards before calling it a day. Logo and tagline appear.
The reality… I barely make it to the office on time, and then try avoiding talking until I have my tea for fear of offending the innocent. Once I have a few sips of my favourite brew, I greet the team, get updates (read gossip) and find out what is due that day. The team then go about their work, while I act as a sounding board, traffic controller and client service fighter. Brainstorming sessions are full of wonderfully vibrant ideas that need shepherding, but we enjoy the process (or is it the samosas?) and manage to squeeze a few usable ideas out. I am happy with the rambling craziness the sessions afford; without them there would be no good concepts.
As soon as the brainstorming ends, the mad rush begins. References are sought, scripts typed, designs executed and everything falls apart before falling together. Someone questions the brief, I question our output, the management questions me. At the eleventh hour, whether by epiphany or exhaustion, we hit gold and manage to (barely) make the deadline. Clients may prefer to hold back on their reaction, but we know we have hit the nail on the head when they say, ‘that’ll do’.
We go back to our stations with a satisfaction that can only come from seeing our blood, sweat and tears vindicated. The contentment is short-lived; a new brief awaits execution ‘urgently’. I fight for time with client services and argue the merits of ‘quality versus quantity’. After a little tug of war on timelines, we wrap up another day, ready to start the cycle anew tomorrow. Too tired for social scenes, I go home and spend some time with my parents before hitting the sack with a resounding thud. Lights out.
So, reality is not as perfect as what we see on TV. The ads we peddle, with perfect women accomplishing everything with poise and ease is not exactly the way I spend my day. Mine is a casserole of chaos with loud arguments and even louder laughter. It’s a series of organised messes where we sometimes want to have a go at each other with a sharp object. But we will always come to the other’s rescue. And at the end of it, tired and relieved, we are glad to be in it together.
Who really wants to be in a glossy ad anyway?
Mahreen Pasha is Creative Director, Lowe & Rauf. email@example.com