Arati Rao
Nov 21, 2011

MMGB: Legends and headlines resurrected

A conversation with Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, group head. O&M Delhi, the creator of two new Facebook groups 'Put Headline Here' and 'Legends of Advertising', and what fans think of them

MMGB: Legends and headlines resurrected

The reason you started ‘Put headline here’ and ‘Legends of Advertising’?

It’s like this. Advertising has its eras. Like the era I grew up seeing, for instance, belonged to the headline. People wrote great headlines. And people loved reading them. That was the time an ad could actually have a fifty word body copy and get away with it. Then something happened. I’m not sure what it was, but writers were told vehemently that people stopped reading. "Write a great headline," they would say. "Using five words." Slowly, over the years, the kickass headlines died out. Instead they were replaced with "Presenting the new and improved..." headlines. That’s sad for writers. Put Headline Here is just a small effort of mine to firstly archive the great lines written by great people. Secondly it’s a place where you can celebrate them. Again.

As for ‘Legends of Advertising’, everyone tells you advertising is this ‘crazy-a**’ place right? Where people are eccentric, wild and not very normal? Well, advertising WAS a place like that. A nuclear physicist suddenly became an art director. A studio person started his own agency. Now, much has changed in advertising. The great people, their great stories have died. Now how eccentric you are is measured with what clothes you wear, how crazy you can get is measured with how much you can drink. That’s sad. I think advertising has some of the most colourful people on the planet; it’s just that most of them have died out. When we get together for a drink, we all talk of people we knew who did this, and did that…someone who knew someone who was a waiter before he went into advertising. That’s what I wanted to capture: these stories. Because these are the stories that keep legends alive, and it is these legends of advertising that we, the “new generation” of advertising need. We need people to look upto. And who better than the legends of advertising?

Where do you hope the pages will go?

Don’t really have a plan for that. I just started them. Put Headline Here was started about a month ago and Legends of Advertising some five days back.

Are you monitoring whatever people post? How do you juggle this along with your work at Ogilvy?

Sometimes people just post ads, like I don’t want this to be adsoftheworld, That’s not the purpose for this page. And juggle? It’s no juggle at all. I’m on Facebook most of the time. At least now I’m doing something apart from posting witty status messages.

nima namchu

Nima DT Namchu, executive creative director, Contract Advertising

Going to "Put Headline Here" is like raiding the agency’s library for the old editions  of the One Show, but only easier. It’s a refresher course for older copywriters like me and, hopefully, a sign that says "Can you beat this?" for the younger ones. For me, it’s inspiring as well as humbling to go through the old gems again - from lines written by AMV for The Economist to those written by Fallon for Porsche to those penned by Wieden & Kennedy for Nike to those by Leagas Delaney for Timberland… Hopefully, our young writers who visit the page will be inspired to write copy of that quality as well. After all, reading a great headline is never a waste of time and, for that matter, neither is sitting down to write one. About 'Legends of Advertising', while some might find it to be a bit too nostalgic, I believe we all need a few heroes and fables to keep us going on the path we have chosen. I think 'Legends', if developed well, has the potential of attracting the young, the talented and the brave once again. As for those who succumbed to the man and were sanitised, 'Legends' is a rude reminder of what they were and what they have become.

ajay gahlaut Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather Gurgaon

Both pages are great fun. Regarding 'Put Headline Here', the art of copy and  writing a great headline is more or less a dying art. Nostalgia is always something that attracts people, with writers writing in their favourite headlines. The page basically remembers the hey day of the great copy ads - the way they used to be when Freddy Birdy, Christopher D'Rozario and Stuart D'Rozario, all the stalwarts of the great headline, used to write. 'Legends of Advertising' is to remember a time when advertising people were really different and off the wall - they used to behave in a manner that wasn't considered socially acceptable - get drunk and go for meetings, write beautiful copy or make a great layout under the influence, or read off a blank piece of paper at a meeting. Those days are no longer here - increasingly creative people also behave themselves a lot more because there is more interface with the client (earlier account management used to front everything, creative guys just had to do the work and hand it over). There was also a different breed of people then; now they are a lot more focussed and want to do big things through the avenue of creativity. But it's still great fun to hear stories of the old days.

rohit venkatesh

Rohit Venkatesh, copywriter, Mudra Bangalore

Sometimes, award books are not the only source of great headlines. And as time goes by, it becomes unlikely that we'll stumble upon these. 'Put Headline Here' is a great refresher for some kickass copy ads that were great in their day, and those which are doing the rounds today. And it's also like a tribute to copy which has all but been pronounced dead in this "visual era". 'Legends of Advertising' is like a cool storyteller. Like a CD who has worked with one of the ad gurus in the Copy Book, and keeps you entertained about their antics back in the day. It's a great place to go to get inspired. And you know what they say about advertising and inspiration. It was a great idea to start the pages. Kudos to whoever did. I think they are going to get pretty big and give our profession some much needed attention.

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