Ram Jayaraman
Oct 05, 2015

Opinion: 'Passion’ and ‘Detachment’

The author explains why adlanders need both

Opinion: 'Passion’ and ‘Detachment’
14 years in this gloriously rewarding and brazenly thankless profession have told me that doing well in advertising (note the presumption that I’m doing well),is all about these two words. 

Passion. Because without it, you’re already not in advertising. Passion is what keeps you re-crafting a headline/layout that you know will pass the client’s muster – because you have set higher standards for yourself. Passion is hunger that you want to keep hungry; it is the golden egg that keeps replenishing itself as long as you achingly want more of it. Passion is the cliché that cannot be taught except by example, it’s the iron fist that keeps the termite of cynicism from hollowing out talent – because talent is as much practice as it is a gift. To let bad clients school you into not trying hard enough because it won’t be bought is the most damaging lesson one can learn. Because you then let them deny you more than just a good idea – over time, you lose the ability to come up with good ideas. For no one is as deluded as the sorcerer who takes his own magic for granted, forgetting that the conjuring comes from sweat and sincerity. Truth is, brilliance is a fire that roars best within cupped hands; it needs nurturing and discipline to blaze and not burn out.

Detachment. Because for all the talk about goodvertising, in the cosmic play of things we’re doing nothing important. I’ve always thought that teachers, doctors and army men – and their allied offshoots – are the only ones doing something meaningful. This is an over-simplification but you get the point. The consumer in all possibilitywill flip the commercial you missed your son’s birth for, and that super-critical-code-red deadline that thickened your arteries and thinned your hairline will miraculously find itself in the backburner. The only thing speedier than something ‘urgent’ in advertising is the swiftness with which it suddenly becomes un-urgent. Too many times, we fool ourselves into believing that brands are dependent on what we do. Brands are called thus because they know how to endure. If they can outlast personnel changes at client and agency ends, if they can walk away from wrong product innovations, brave out inimical government policies and survive fickle consumers, surely they can see through a Saturday research that has been shifted to a Monday. 

An anecdote here. I remember one of my ex-bosses telling me to cancel my holiday to shoot an AV over a long Gandhi Jayanti weekend(this was when I was a rookie writer) and that “sacrificing Shimla today would take me to Switzerland tomorrow.” I heard him, smiled and only smiled. And while I’m yet to see the Swiss Alps, the memories of my time in a low-budget Himachal Pradesh hotel with my best friends is something no amount of applause over a sales motivational video can match. It’s possibly why I’ve never stopped any of my team members from taking leave.
Detachment doesn’t mean not giving a damn. It means reserving the damns for what’s important. It’s perspective. It’s important to love your craft to have fun and do well in it. It’s equally important to not love it blindly. Sometimes, watching your hero’s last test match swansong can be more important than being in office before a pitch – as long as you have the integrity, the ability and the faith in your gang to win the pitch from a hotel room miles away. 

Passion and Detachment. Two opposite words that are anything but opposing. They sound contradictory but are really complementary. You need both in your corner, alternately egging you on and pulling you back. Passion without detachment will turn you into a stressed, pill-popping time bomb, while detachment without passion will detach you from advertising faster than you can write a bad tagline.
Peace, love, empathy.
Ram Jayaraman is senior ECD, Grey Group Bengaluru
This article first appeared in the 2 October 2015 issue of Campaign India
Campaign India