A great idea doesn't have to come from some advertising guru imparting gyaan*.
It doesn't have to come from the remote echelons of creative land either.
It can germinate anywhere and from anyone.
Your lift man, dhobi, trainee, driver and ‘you’ too can come up with a ‘great idea’.
That’s the challenge, as a creative person your idea needs to be better than the rest.
For the idea then, to resonate, be creatively communicated, to percolate and spread like a virus, there have to be other things at play.
As custodians of advertising and communication in our country, you have a certain responsibility. You wake up and go to work day after day and decode briefs that clients share and you try to creatively dish up something that works across the eclectic patchwork of the 120 or more languages in this country. You have to please everyone: the owner of the company, his newly foreign-returned son and his disinterested wife. But before all of that, an immediate boss who is perpetually unsure about anything you present.
And after, there are chances some research group will drop a humongous stick of dynamite smashing your lovingly crafted piece into smithereens.
It’s not an easy task, this being ‘creative’.
Frustrations mount with the endless iterations you are compelled to do.
Never-ending demands and even crazier deadlines.
Then the film director comes into the picture and mumbles under his breath: “Where is the creativity in all of this?”
And you want to sock him in his eye but you grit your teeth and smile sweetly because you know he has to carry this baby, your baby, forward.
The client wants to load the communication thick and the filmmaker wants it threadbare.
One wants more product, the other wants no product.
The client wants the most malleable director on the job and the director wants the most docile client on the job. Neither of which exist.
The client wants more for less and the director clearly wants more of everything and nothing less.
All the while you are yo-yoing in the midst of this tamasha**.
Then at home there are disinterested husbands, ranting wives or clueless children or worse, an empty refrigerator. None of which helps.
And if that isn't enough there’s the bad traffic, the nincompoop who brushed your bumper or just the damn weather.
But you ask a creative person in an advertising agency why then he or she loves this job and you realise that despite the craziness there is clearly an astonishing light shining at the end of this lunatic tunnel.
Magic happens sometimes.
One script that is different from the rest. The one you write with a bright spark in your brain, that just happens to be liked by a client who trusts you, and is loved by a director who sees the truth in it and adds his touch, to make it a film that this complicated country then laps up and loves and shares and then some award jury may reward…
It then becomes a page in your career that you get defined by. And then you thirst and hunger for more such moments of glory and you keep going, helping build brands and making people have relationships with the products they use and want to use.
It’s addictive, this thing. It could be better than the real thing sometimes.
But then there’s always that fear of not hitting that six or being too whimsical or being misunderstood. There’s way too many things that are not in your control.
And you gradually learn the art to easily fool yourself and fool others too.
You can present a mediocre idea with the flair of a deft clown or undersell and kill a good idea because of mere under-confidence.
Your creative streak needs hard work and lots of nourishment.
Needs an insight and clearly the right intent. Needs love and nurturing.
Needs time, needs form and function.
Needs a sculptor to mould it skillfully. Needs élan too.
Any good piece of work finds its traces back to a simple idea, pregnant with insight, succinctly written, cleverly presented and made with love.
The best film scripts create ripples of fear in the director’s mind, make him question the status quo and challenges him to go that extra mile to deliver.
A good idea can be a game changer for a brand. It can be a radical shift for a client in his organisation and could re-script the future of the company.
Simply put, a good idea can define and redefine you forever.
Feeling the pressure? Don’t.
Stay calm and plod on.
Stay inspired, travel, read, use your hands to make something, garden, teach, and do something outside of work.
Then just come up with ideas that turn the tide every now and then and change the course of things.
We need some tectonic plates shifted in advertising today.
You have the power. Go forth. Believe in your power and rewrite the rules of this game.
Don’t let anyone stop you. Not even yourself.
Your time has come.
1. Pardon the use of the gender: ‘he’ referring to the creative person / director. It is only in reference not in deference.)
2. *Gyaan is a succinct Hindi word meaning knowledge.
3. **Tamaasha is a succinct Hindi word meaning comedy.
(The author is executive producer / partner at Nirvana Films. Views expressed are personal.)