Campaign India Team
Dec 29, 2010

The Big Debate: The good, bad and ugly of Indian Advertising: Sandeep Pathak

As part of our year-end special, we reproduce the thoughts shared by industry captains on the good, the bad and the ugly of Indian advertising, in conversations with Campaign India. Read what Sandeep Pathak, Chief executive officer, Bates 141 India, had to say.

The Big Debate: The good, bad and ugly of Indian Advertising: Sandeep Pathak

The election day got even more ugly

The Good: The first thing that everybody gladly said goodbye to was 2009 and words like recession, slowdown, cutbacks, freezes, retrenchment etc. It was a good feeling to kick 2009 in its backside and usher in a new year, a new decade to look up to. The first good thing 2010 brought was that many agencies have grown and kept pace with the overall ADEX growth  or even surpassed it. The percentage margin is healthier and agencies have been able to look at rewarding talent, and keeping them happy after a long hiatus. It’s good to see happy faces once again.

One other event which made one feel good was Portfolio Night, hosted by Ogilvy. It was a landmark event for the industry. For the first time the industry actively did something about talent development, talent mining, rather than lament the lack of it. It was good to see the top creative leaders come out and pick what could be the future stars for this industry.

There was collectivism and happiness in that room rather than the usual b*t**#@g bickering that goes around. And it felt good to be in that room to soak in that much vaunted spirit on display.The other good fact that I would like to highlight is that over the last couple of years, a visit to the holy grail of awards reveals that we are getting much better at the crafting and presentation of work and it stands tall with the best in the world.

The Bad: The bad is still the quality of work that we are happy putting out. A weekend review of television ads would put the old adage of 50% of all advertising is wasted to shame. One look at the show-reel of Indian advertising on display would lead you to believe that this percentage should be much higher;to hazard a guess even 95% . Our collective show-reel and credentials need to improve and it can’t be something that we put on display in the last quarter of every year. The other bad thing which is spreading into an ugly habit within the crop of the young talent that’s coming into the industry. Great talent from premier institutions across the country, but a lot more fickle and impatient. The frequency with which they jump jobs is unbelievable and unheard of. Not only are they contributing to the overall churn but they are also fuelling the biggest malaise of the industry: hyper-designations at hyper-speed. This is leading to a complete mismatch of role-definition, the age, and the experience of individuals and their maturity levels and out of whack remuneration levels. It would be good to see some old-fashioned loyalty back into play soon.

The Ugly: There are two ugly incidents last year which warrant mention. One Ugly and the other even more Uglier. Without doubt the ugly face that advertising put up last year was the Goafest Fiasco. It wasn’t the judging gaffes that irked the industry, as much as the aftermath. For the first time, collectively, the industry was rallying around a single cause “Penalise the Offenders”. The lame response from the governing body was something that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Although one is told that there were fewer instances of misjudging that and the metals from the offending agencies have been withdrawn, this issue will rear its head up again. The uglier incident was the elections for the AAAI. For the first time, it looked like there would be fierce elections. Mailboxes got spammed, charges got traded, allegiances were feigned. The election day got even more uglier and it was a sad sight to see it in such shambles. No one would want to be a part of any such governing body after witnessing such events. What this industry needs is much more bonhomie, collectivism and not divisive forces . Else we will be reduced to a bunch of individuals who pat each other on their backs for work that we have created for the jury or b@*#h ourselves out. Let’s hope that for advertising’s sake and our sake we never make the quote of Blondie from the movie TGTBATU “I’ve never seen so many men wasted so badly” ever come true.

Campaign India