This week's Adland Rockstar is Abha Dhasmana, group head (copy), Grey India.
How did you get into advertising?
Funnily enough I always wanted to be an advertising copywriter though I didn’t exactly know why. So when I was studying journalism in college, I decided to spend after class hours interning in advertising agencies. By the end of college, I had interned in more agencies than HLL works with. At this point I realized that I should be making more than 2000 bucks per month and joined O&M as a junior copywriter. After spending four years in O&M, I worked in McCann Erickson (Delhi) for a year, got married and moved to Grey (Bangalore).
Any memories of your first few weeks in advertising?
It was hilarious. The creative supervisor I was working with, made me literally study all the award books. At the end of each day he would pick an ad from the books and ask me to explain "the idea" behind the ad in one sentence. It was a very frustrating experience for him. I also remember that everyone used to lecture me about going home at 7pm. So one day they made me stay in office the whole night, looking for images for a new business pitch. Not even one of those images was used in the pitch, which incidentally was a month away.
What is one thing that you like about your job?
I love the entire brand building process. It never ceases to amaze me how you can give a product a face, a voice and a personality just by using your imagination. I mean it’s fascinating how a mobile service provider can become a cartoon character and how a cup of tea can be a social activist.
What is one thing that you don't like about your job?
I wish that the industry would do away with scam ads. I feel it defeats the entire purpose of awards. I would really love if we were encouraged to use our creativity to solve brand problems instead. I think that there’s a lot we need to unlearn. I also feel that sometimes there is an unnecessary amount of self importance in the business. I mean, at the end of the day we are selling soap, not inventing it.
Who are mentors? What have you learnt from each of them?
I don’t know about mentors but I am extremely lucky to have had some exceptional bosses. Suchitra Gahlot (O&M) helped me set the bar higher by being a supremely talented writer herself. Mahesh V (O&M) taught me that every little piece of work should add to the brand’s value and that a good brand doesn’t need to use its logo in the ads. Vishnu Srivatsav and Sham Ramachandran (Grey) taught me that there is no problem big enough that can’t be laughed at.
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
I take an annoyingly long lunch break!
Who is your favourite bouncing board for ideas?
My bosses, Vishnu Srivatsav and Sham Ramachandran who can immediately take an idea to the next level and if it’s not working they can definitely make fun of it.
Your favorite authors and their works?
Dave Eggers (The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), Miranda July (No One Belongs Here More Than You), any David Sedaris book
One person in advertising you'd like to have dinner with?
One person outside advertising you'd like to have dinner with?
Sonia Gandhi. She is unreal. Though, if Michael Jackson was alive, it would definitely be him.
Three advertising campaigns you'd like to put up in your hall-of-fame.
The Bud Light Real Men of Genius campaign, the Million Project for the NYC Department of Education and the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what would be the three things you'd want with you?
Just my husband, so that he can chop the wood, make the fire, kill the food, listen to me whine about having to cook it, etc.
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