by Arjun Mukherjee
Arjun is a Creative Director with Bates 141 Kolkata
Sometimes you have this queasy feeling that sacrifice is such a bitch. As a strappy 22-year old one fine day I decided to chuck a bank job like one tosses an unwanted banana peel carelessly by the roadside. Ann Rynd got the better of me and like Ché crisscrossing the virgin countryside I decided to follow my heart. Jaws dropped, eyebrows took the shape of previously unseen arcs and discouraging words dropped like sharp icicles when I announced that I wanted to be an advertising copywriter.
Armed with fresh smelling resumes I started calling up advertising honchos and doing the rounds of big agencies. The rejections were quick and brutal. The drowsy secretaries bleated out the same answers and catching a glimpse of the Creative Director seemed as difficult as spotting a snow leopard in
a blizzard. After experiencing several such ‘push aways’ I resorted to lies, calling up as car loan agents, making appointments as book suppliers and several such cheesy disguises. The results as expected were disastrous and broke away big chunks from my fragile confidence.
It was during these ‘drowning in a puddle moments’ when you are almost sure of sacrifice being a bitch that the phone buzzed. It was a good, unhealthy six months since I started my quest. One of the big-shots with whom I have left behind a resume got curious probably. In the next two days I got two valuable advices. One was to dig out magazine print ads I don’t like and re-ideate them. And the second came from the then Creative Head of erstwhile JWT who in his own candid way explained how I was kind of good enough and that giving up is so uncool.
About a month later armed with a fat bunch of A4 sheets neatly stacked in a portfolio which looked like a bank ledger book my next episode began. As
usual some looked bored, some were expressionless, some asked the regular questions and some tore into my effort with all fangs bared. But the best part of the hullabaloo was that some of them actually invited me to take a copy test.
Now if I swirl into a flashback mode there were some things I did correctly and some of it were plain daft. Somewhere down the line I took the criticisms in my stride and held on to every speck of advice. At the end of it all, having some kind of a portfolio mattered. It wasn’t about how good the executions were but how fresh were the ideas inside.
Most importantly it was about standing samurai-strong in the battle field. It was about making those phone-calls, waiting in the cold of the
receptions, ignoring the cold shoulders and waking up in the dead of the night with your head squirming with ideas. There are no set rules to land up in advertising but each one should have their own unconventional means to the end. If you stick to it, come what may, there will definitely be a Moses who will be more than willing to part the ocean and show you the way to the Promised Land.