I really admired the speech by DDB’s Amir Kassaei at this year's Cannes Lions festival. He was fully honest and cynical at the same time. There’s one point from the session that I fully agreed with. This industry was always known for mad and crazy people. He mentioned that famous Apple commercial about 'Round Pegs with Square Holes'. Somehow we are missing stuff like that. The young generation is getting more exposure, but they’re also getting more conscious about their behaviour. That means we’re missing out on their ‘stupidity’ and ‘madness’. That madness wasn’t just for the sake of madness. It was a culture and the culture was advertising. They would say the right thing in the wrong places and the wrong things in the right places. And if you look at those commercials (of the time), all of them would fit what I’m saying.
I joined advertising because of the madness. Now, the madness has reduced. The madness needs to return. The madness needs to return between 9 to 5, so that it reflects in the work. All the young people today are scared with FOMO (fear of missing out). At the age of 22, they want to do every single possible thing in a short time.
There is a writer in my office. He wanted to be creative director in six months and then he wanted to be an ad film director simultaneously. He also wanted to try out a career in standup comedy. If all this doesn’t work out for him, he wants to start a dotcom. His fear is that if he doesn’t do all these things, he’ll lose big. That FOMO is making him lose out on the madness of this business.
I remember, earlier clients would be looking forward to meeting agency people. They were expecting madness from them – stuff that would surprise them. Earlier, presentations were entertainment. Now, I’m observing seven out of 10 creative heads are agency heads, including me. We all believe clients won’t take us seriously if we act ‘mad’.
Spending half a day in an innovation lab at Cannes, I see much more of the ‘nerd’ variety versus the ‘mad men’. A lot of Indian kids were also there. I believe they’re there to listen to things related to technology, to not miss out on the technology side of the work. With data, coding and tech lessons, all they’re taught is one plus one is two. With madness, one plus one could be five, fourteen or anything else. I hope they understand digital is a platform and the train is the idea.
(Raj Kamble is founder and CCO of Famous Innovations)