• Vedashree Khambete Sharma

Not For Wussies

In media school, they called us advertising students ‘soap salesmen’. It was supposed to be funny, I’m told. But to debunk all myths about the supposedly glamorous world of advertising, that’s what we are. We are the equivalent of the ring on the doorbell that disturbs your Sunday family lunch, the call on your mobile phone when you’re “getting to know each other better”. We are interrupters, disrupters and pests.But thankfully, that’s not all we are. The more time we spend selling people shit they don’t need, the more we become hyper-real versions of modern humanity. The best and the worst of urban life, so to speak. The best of us make it look easy. The rest of us have to try. And if you ever want to get into this depraved hell-hole of an industry, this is what you need to be.

You have to be a responsible, mature, caffeine-addicted, self-deluded workaholic. That’s the only way you will meet crazy deadlines, work 14-hours a day plus weekends, handle psychotic clients and come very close to hating your parents for giving birth to you, all at a salary that lets you rent a rat-infested square foot of space under a crumbling flyover in Bhayendar and STILL THINK THAT THIS IS THE GOOD LIFE.

You also need to be an egomaniacal, self-satisfying, paranoid, insecure, mean-minded, juvenile nincompoop. That’s the only way you will churn out good work. Work that’s good because you do it for the sheer joy of saying, “I did this, isn’t it cool, aren’t I cool for coming up with it? I’m a friggin’ genius, man!” Work that you do fast because you don’t want someone else to come up with the same idea before you. Work that you do with all your heart because you don’t want some 18-year-old, ambitious All About Eve clone to snatch it from you. Work that’s good because no adult with even an atom of sanity could ever come up with it, which is why IT WORKS.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. And the funny part is, me and my brethren, we make it look good. We must be, considering more and more people want to get in every year, to start with unpaid internships and emotional abuse till one day they earn a 4-figure salary and the frustration levels to cause physical pain to client servicing.

Yes, we guzzle beer during work hours. Yes, we play video games, loud music and cubicle cricket. Yes, we rant and swear and talk about “the creative process” which is industry code for extend-the-bloody-deadline.

Sue us, we have fun at work, which in turn is supposed to be the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Hate us, for disturbing your daily soap and shattering your belief that nobody can make money doing something that’s fun. Threaten us when we say we have a shoot the next day with Deepika, Katrina, Kareena or John, Hrithik, Shah Rukh, Dhoni. Ignore us, when we try to convince you that our life sucks, no, really, god promise, yaar, it’s killing me. Judge us, for not doing any “real work” while you have to sit back tallying the balance sheets.

But before you do, try coming up with eighteen different ways of selling cold cream, washing powder, ball point pens, cola, cellphones and life insurance. Nope, that one’s been done before, this one isn’t working hard enough, this one’s too hardworking, this is just bad, that is not “creative” enough, this is too creative, nobody will understand the other one and why does this one feature a flying zebra?

We’re soap salesmen, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t believe everything they tell you about us.

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