There was a time when one brief from the client made us all drop everything and rush to their office. And one brief where the films department was not the last in the creative food chain but key from day one. A brief that made the account manager and team scurry to their creative counterparts to warn them that 'The Brief' was on its way.
I am talking about the Audio Visuals, commonly referred to as AVs.
AVs were usually made for launch conferences and visiting dignitaries from abroad. The primary difference between the two being the choice of track.
There was an excitement around the brief which made even the most inspiring brand briefs fade in comparison. No fights over the insight. No debates on the proposition. Every team member contributed.
The idea took its exciting shape overnight. With references which were usually footage from sports, hit Bollywood and Hollywood flicks. Lagaan was a hot favourite. So was the track 'Jai Ho', 'It’s my life', 'Pretty Woman' (for all the soap brand AVs), 'Dil hai chota sa' (for the value detergents brands) and so on.
The client and agency team would discuss, mull, rediscuss and agree on the concept. All in a couple of hours.
And then, the production. Clips, stocks of sportsmen (Olympics stock was a favourite, especially high jumps and javelin throws and the victory laps), movies, musicals, consumer vox pops and of course a last minute mad rush of lights, camera, action with one of the chief client honchos whose motivating words would be part of the AV.
Presentation to client, quick changes, new music to give it a “wow” feel, jump into cabs again for the final presentation and voila, another masterpiece was created.
The AV never failed to receive its furious round of applause after the passionate sales conference presentation. The finale was always a thank you , good show email from the client, marked to the big bosses in the agency.
Some of the AV showreels could put some best work to shame. Low budget, time constraints, no shoot, and yet we got it right everytime.
Maybe, here’s why.
- A clear brief from the client. Had to be right the first time. Did not go through the rigour of multiple layers of internal approvals.
- Fantastic team work in the agency. The project was usually led by the junior teams who were untainted by internal power dynamics. It showed in the work.
- The client encouraged bold ideas and they were not tempered down by consumers.
- The client and agency worked hand in hand - could be called co-creation at times.
- The ambitions were not sky high - no one dreamt of winning an award for an AV. So the production was awarded to young local directors out to make a mark. And they did.
- Most importantly, everyone had fun doing the job. On one hand, there was a huge pressure on timelines, quality, motivation quotient, yet on the other, there was so much freedom in creativity.
- The AV was usually approved by the key people or played in forums with the top people in the organisation, so got the due importance internally in terms of prioratisation. “This AV is for Mr. ABC himself” meant studio and AV hours unclogged immediately. Similarly, approvals from the client was immediate. No luxury of umpteenth changes here. We had to get it right. And roll.
- The youngsters in the agency took pride in the work. It was their own.
Quite a few learnings as we go about our work today.
If every campaign could be treated like the AV of old times, would it make a difference in the way we work?