Aditi Ganatra, Digital Strategist, Indigo Consulting, afresh from MICA into advertising, chronicles her journey as a fresher in the Indian Ad World.
How I ended up in advertising was that I, a full-grown adult, just wanted to be able to say that my office has swings. That’s all there is to it. Coming from a place that had advertising as its core, I didn’t think a lot would faze me here. However, the reality was far from the millennial version of Mad Men I had in my head.
We started with a month-long induction. It was surprising we were having an induction at all, forget such an immersive one at that. If it does sound too good to be true, there’s a catch: one person constantly asking very evidently pre-framed questions.
To sit there and witness that a person is bad is one thing but what if that person is from your college? It’s ten times worse. No number of pleas to the almighty will save you from the second-hand embarrassment or better, make them disappear.
Other employees had constantly wondered how many of us had been hired and where we were going to go. (Hint: The answer is 5 * 5. And you thought MICAns don’t get numbers!) This was funny at first but it got more terrifying with time. What if they didn’t need so many people? First job learnings? What will I post on LinkedIn to mimic my intellectually superior batchmates who already have an opinion on everything marketing?
All these questions coupled with the pressure of finding a reasonably-sized yet affordable house which was also in the general vicinity of office (Brokerji for the last time, Dombivali, because it’s on the same local line is NOT general vicinity of Parel) had me at my wit’s end.
Three months down the line, I’m much wiser. I now understand that since the objective of advertising is to create needs, we ourselves must always be in need: the need for manpower. No number of people working on something is ever enough to have time to enjoy the swings! Maybe they’re only there to fantasize about your least liked brand manager being catapulted off it into oblivion.
When I had first met my then-new-now-current boss, he said he’d mentor me only if I was punctual to office. Expecting punctuality in an agency? God bless the man but where had he dropped from?! When would the agency stereotype of sauntering into work at noon come into play?
Turns out, it doesn’t work that way in reality. Freedom is limited to coming in dressed as you like. I, unfortunately, haven’t toed that line too much yet because I can’t afford a bunny costume, my rent and adequate food for the month all at once.
The other bit of not-so-pleasant reality hurt much more. Once I had asked my mom to pick her favorite child, she had remarked, “What good will it do to pick out a favorite when I need both my eyes to see properly?”. I was absolutely convinced that no parent would (at least outrightly) ever pick a favorite. Unfortunately, the advertising industry has no qualms about doing the same.
Digital agencies or plebs as most of us are more commonly referred to as are treated as Cinderellas, pre-glass-shoe-fits Cinderella at that. But it’s cool you guys, according to research most of your jobs will be ours. Digital is booming and data is the new gold according to the richest Indian. (All of those who haven’t read about this, please read the newspaper. I would suggest some by name but we don’t have any as clients as of now.)
However, one thing I’ve learned has been life-changing: defining KPIs. I now apply them everywhere, almost obsessively. If I’m forced to socialize on the two days of the week I’m home, I always calculate the probability of at least one person from the group of people having a destination wedding that I would be invited to. In case the probability of getting a free vacation is not high enough, an apparent deliverable comes up and becomes a priority.
For eg. the KPI set for this article was getting one of the following reactions; either I’ve stepped on your toes and made you question the importance of my views (“How dare you, you digital pleb!”, roared the mainline monster) or I’ve made you chuckle at least once. Either way, with this in place, I’ve finished my KPIs for the first quarter of my shiny, new, once-glamorous job.
This piece is authored by Aditi Ganatra, the Digital strategist, Indigo Consulting