Last week, O&M hosted the Portfolio Night. Almost 70 youngsters gathered at the Westin to have their skills evaluated by a galaxy of creative directors. I’m hard put to find a better word to describe the collection of CDs. Galaxy is as good as it gets.
Piyush Pandey, Balki, Prasoon Joshi, Abhijit Avasthi, Rajiv Rao, Sumanto Chattopadhyay, K V Sridhar, Josy Paul, Ravi Deshpande, Malvika Mehra, V Sunil, Vikram Gaikwad, Sajan Raj Kurup, Bobby Pawar, Raghu Bhat, Ramanuj Shastri, Ashish Khazanchi, Arun Iyer, Agnello Dias, Santosh Padhi, Senthil Kumar, Satbir Singh.
There were a few more as well, but my memory is not what it used to be, so apologies for those I’ve left out. That’s one hell of a collection of CDs. As was announced at the event, the worthies above cumulatively churn out creatives which are worth “Rs.25,000 crore”. There’s an element of exaggeration in the figure, but, what the hell, that’s advertising.
The point is, the luminaries evaluating the portfolios are responsible for the lion’s share of advertising in the country today. Switch on the television (any Hindi GEC will do) and carry on watching till you see a commercial that is not made by one of the names above (their agencies, I mean). I promise you that it’ll be a long wait.
Forget the event per se (it was wonderful in principle but forgettable otherwise, but more of that later). The very fact that Piyush was able to get all these CDs into a room in Godforsaken Goregaon and get them to spend the better part of six hours there (the Westin wasn’t Godforsaken; it’s a terrific venue, which will only get better when the non-hot seasons are upon us) is a testament to the respect he commands in the community.
Just a fortnight ago, the world seemed to have nothing to talk about except the Abbys mess. At the Westin, Bobby Pawar hugged ‘Pops’ KV Sridhar. I must say it was much like another Pawar (Sharad) hugged Lalit Modi some time ago. But the hug is the point; even if it meant nothing to the two huggers. The CDs were invited by Piyush to help him evaluate the portfolios of the young aspirants, and that’s what they did with a focus.
Perhaps Piyush should have asked all the CDs to stay back after the event and figure out what to do with the mess that is the Abbys. A number of the CDs present did not take part this year. Unless there is a clean-up, the number will be greater next year. If all those who were at Portfolio Night sit together for a few hours to discuss the Abbys, even if the perfect solution is not arrived at, the Abbys would be better off.
Perhaps because the suits were missing from the event. Sandeep Pathak was there (Sagar wasn’t, as he was away on holiday), but I can’t remember seeing any others. So the collection was a community of creatives rather than a collection of professionals from adland; the bond was much stronger that an exec committee can ever hope to have.
Perhaps, that’s what Bhaskar Das and Colvyn Harris should do. Get all the CDs together and request them to come up with a solution that suits the small number that controls the business.
As for the business of the day, Portfolio Night, it was far too exclusive in the pure sense of the word.
An aspirant applied. It cost the aspirant $35! A fee that could be paid only by credit card. Then the aspirant had to come to Mumbai, and spend at least one night year.
Overall, a lot of money – and, therefore, excluding large numbers of aspirants.
Perhaps next year, one could leave the owners of Portfolio Nights out of the gig (that’ll bring down costs). Take the event to where the aspirants are. Take the event to Chennai and Bangalore and Pune and Kolkata and Delhi and wherever. That makes it accessible to all.
Take the simplicity of the idea. Make it simpler. And you’ll help ensure that the average Joe reads and hears about the positive aspects of the business, not the negative.
An aside. A candidate was being evaluated by Rajiv Rao. She loved the ZooZoos. She had no clue that they were made by O&M; she had no clue who Rajiv was. She had no clue what Rajiv’s contribution to the ZooZoos was and is.
Some remarked that this was fantastic.
I’d worry. More people on the road need to know more about what advertising does and who matters in this business.
More than just the Campaign Indias of the world need to write about the business.
That’s when it is one.