This week's Adland Rockstar is Ira Gupta, senior copywriter, Saatchi & Saatchi.
How did you get into advertising?
I dropped out of college as I had horrible marks in my 12th Board exams. I got admission in Daulat Ram College in Delhi where the only subjects I got were music and philosophy. During that time, Red FM had just launched in Delhi and my brother’s friend was working there, who asked me to join as an intern. So I started off there, moved into production at Miditech, worked on a series on the extinction of vultures (by the end of it, I thanked God they’re extinct). My boss at Miditech told me that my skills are more suited to copywriting and not so much for production. She gave me a couple of numbers. So I dialled. Somebody answered the phone at Draftfcb+Ulka. I started there and began getting paid.
How did you arrive at Saatchi & Saatchi?
I stayed in Ulka for sometime – I had the best boss ever (Shiveshwar Raj Singh a.k.a Shivi). I went to Rediffusion, fell in love, joined Publicis after a friend asked me to join. Now, my husband who’s also in advertising, wanted to be a writer/lyricist. So it was an obvious choice for him to come to Bombay. Eventually I came too, joined DDB Mudra. A friend at Saatchi asked me to join here. So I applied, things worked out. I've been here for more than a year – it's good fun.
If not in advertising, where would you have been?
Sometimes I feel like leaving all this and becoming a doctor, as originally planned – I wanted to cut up bodies – I’m in love with forensic medicine! I want to work in a morgue. My dad is a doctor and I’ve seen seven post-mortems and I've been insanely crazy about pursuing forensic sciences. He used to bring home all sorts of dead animals and I used to cut them up ... (laughs)
What are your earliest memories of working in an advertising agency?
I remember, at Ulka, they’d hired me as a trainee, but they’d also hired one more person as a copy supervisor. I was mistaken as the latter and treated very nicely. A week later, the copy supervisor joined and, then...well..."Ira, coffee leke aao...Ira, printout leke aao...Ira, iska xerox nikaalo!" (laughs)
What is one thing you like about your job?
I like the fact that there are new things everyday and I like how I can come to work at 12 noon and not get rogered for it. Even if I’m at work till 2am, I like what I’m doing, I don’t have any complaints. It’s fun.
What is one thing that you don’t like about your job?
There is nothing that I dislike about it. I think everybody should be in advertising at some point of time in their life. Everybody should try it – it’s easy, even my mother can do it. But to answer your question, what I dislike is the way agencies nowadays are becoming like banks. They’re becoming very streamlined and there’s nothing cool about being in an agency anymore. For example, the creative-servicing divide that used to exist earlier (and I used to love it) is now suddenly disappearing. Now we've come to realise that client servicing people are not idiots anymore, so let’s all work together...etc. Plus there’s this list of rules that have come up e.g. come at 9:30am...swipe card...blah blah blah. I don’t like it! The coolness quotient is fading, unlike earlier when creatives were allowed their tantrums. Now they have to behave themselves.
One person in advertising you’d want to have dinner with?
Nobody from advertising! Not at all! What will I talk about at dinner...’Did you see this ad?’, ‘What did you think of that ad?’ I don’t mind having dinner with Damien Hirst, though. He’s an artist.
One person outside advertising you’d want to have dinner with?
Uncle Oswald from the Roald Dahl books. Fictional character, but he’s the sexiest man in the world.
One advertising campaign you really like?
Amongst the recent ones, I like the Listerine Snake Charmer commercial. It’s hilarious!
Which are your favourite films?
I love the Austin Powers trilogy, Borat, Andaz Apna Apna, Big Fish...
How do you cheer yourself up on a bad day?
Som beer, some bitching, some ranting helps. Luckily, my husband is in advertising, so I bitch to him as well!
Three things you’d want with you, if you were stuck on a deserted island.
Air conditioning, beer, cigarettes
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