Manish Bhatt : My First Break In Advertising

Job hunt was way more complicated back in the late 90’s. Mobile phones were still a rare luxury. Personal landline numbers of Ad People were hard to come by. One had to camp in a STD booth and chase the ad-people through a labyrinth of receptionists and secretaries.
I got my first brush with the ad-world as a summer trainee in Mudra Communications back in 1996. For this, I had to chase down Atulit Saxena, an alumnus of my MBA college. He was a senior ad-exec in Mudra, at a time when Mudra had Santosh Desai still in the process of revolutionising the Planning Function and the creative team of Freddie and Naved were at the height of their powers.
I think it was my sheer desperation more than anything else, that finally made him cave in. 3 years later, I was looking for a job in Delhi, and had made some friends in ad-world, who were way more with-it than I could ever be. One of them, Sandipan Bhattacharya, better known as Sandy and currently ECD at BBDO, landed me an interview with Debasish Paul at Saatchi & Saatchi. Mr. Paul was heading the Delhi branch. I don’t remember much of that interview. I think my passion for internet got through to him and he decided to give me a chance as a Management Trainee. And as Atulit, my first mentor, used to say, Advertising is like a spinning Mary-go-Round, hard to get on. But once you’re on it, it’s impossible to get down.

Manish Kinger : Interview with a copywriter

Manish Kinger or Bomber, as he is fondly known in the corridors of Grey (Delhi), considers himself to be an accidental writer/ad man. A compulsive reader, an incorrigible blogger and an unapologetic Facebook addict, Kinger likes to keep it simple— he reads, he writes, and advertising happens as a consequence. When not dissecting creative briefs and fishing insights, Kinger runs a book club in Gurgaon (Gurgaon Book Club) and is currently working on creating a platform that will redefine the art of storytelling.

Why are you into Advertising?
I did not choose advertising, it chose me. I was a below average Engineer who hopped from one job to the other until he finally ran out of hopptions. Joblessness for over six months, Blogging (ranting/venting) for another three, one thing lead to the other, and I got my first advertising offer. But now, almost five years down the line, I’ve surrendered to the fact that there’s nothing else in the world that I would rather do. Or can do. I am a writer; I have made my peace with it. I enjoy being woken up by a thought and the urge to pen it down. Or not being able to sleep for the same reason. Or not wanting to, because of an unfinished expression.I am in advertising because of its dynamic character.Today you think you have got a hang of it, and tomorrow, there’s something absolutely new waiting to mock at your face. Every day you learn something new. Every day, you do something new. I don’t know of any profession on the face of this Earth that comes close to the madness, chaos, or excitement of advertising.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
NO. I have a degree in Engineering (Electronics and Communications).

Tell us about your recent work campaign?
I have just moved out of Grey. And right now, I’m just focusing on enjoying my break (reading, writing, waiting for award results) before I join anywhere.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I take a lot of strength from my mother. Besides being a surprisingly powerful woman, she’s also the most sorted, sensible and intelligent force around me. How she has an understanding of things that are so beyond her sphere of existence or how she breaks every mould of a typical Punjabi housewife by being a typical Punjabi housewife; in some strange way, its things like these that keep me grounded.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
I’ve let myself get influenced by a lot of things, still do. As far as personalities go, I think Viral Pandya has a lot to do with this restlessness that has evolved in me. During my early days, I had the opportunity of working very closely with him;in a matter of months, I saw him claim Cannes, The One Show and whatever it was out there. I think that did something to me, stir up a hunger somewhere, and made me proactive. As a writer, I am a great admirer of Sabu Paul’s work, and his attitude. I think he’s undoubtedly the most nonchalant, no nonsense ad man. And an extremely secure one at that.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Every day we are exposed to an incomprehensible amount of content. And it’s changing at equally incomprehensible speed. I like to be in the center of all this content. And I try to keep my eyes on everything. From a well-written status update to an award winning long copy, everything inspires me. But most importantly, I keep the reasonably good work that I have done in the past, around me;it motivates me to do better.

Tell us about your first job in Advertising.
Though I had worked before but I would consider my stint at Noah’s Ark Creative to be my first job in ADVERTISING. It was a small design house with Viral Pandya as a Creative Consultant. Not a conventional ad-place setup, it had a very comfortable, cozy vibe to it. Limited clients, limited resources, work would get done, and more often than not, there’ll be time to kill at hand. But the best part was, every ad magazine that you can imagine was within reach. In a span of almost a year, I went through all the editions of Luerzer’s Archive, and by the end of it, I was determined to get inside it. Two years later, I did (1/2013 edition).

What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now? At least 
here in India, the released work is most often too sad.
I think print advertising is recovering. Or so, I would like to believe. But I’ve seen some amazing stuff in the recent past, and from around here. There are agencies out there that dread the mediocre tag. They want to be known for their print. And they’re pretty damn good at it. Agencies like Taproot for instance; Bang In the Middle is another example. These guys have craft. I don’t know who handles the business for Roush (men’s shoes), but whoever it is, knows how to write.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
It’s the approach that is the key player in this argument. I have been a part of conversations where scams were organized,and insights were concocted with the intention to make it look otherwise. You’d be surprised to know how quickly brand becomes an invisible commodity in these discussions. Though they win awards, this seldom helps the brand in the market. On the contrary, there are times when you see creative completely smitten by the brand they create/work on. They want to nurture it, make it fantastic, they want everybody to love it the way they do. And with great honesty, they are able to communicate that. This product sells, and wins awards too (Coke, Volkswagen, Vodafone). Two different conversations, two different results.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
I believe the aspiring creative professionals are an aware lot. They read forums, follow Ogilvy and Bernbach, they know the inside stories and are well-connected too. They understand that advertising is not one of the highest paying professions, not even close. Hence, I’m going to assume that they want to be in it, for the love of it. That being said, this love requires investment, and lot of reassurance, more than they can imagine.
From the inside, it’s a business of validation. We are a competitive, impatient and an insecure bunch. From those who have it all to those who want to have it all,one way or the other, we all seek validation. So the moment you make a mistake there are chances that the world will know of it, and when you do something great, someone will take credit for it (not that frequently, but this happens). Every mistake would seem like a failure, and since it’s a business of ideas, you will fail a lot. These are the moments when that love will begin to fizzle. And this is when you’ll have make a choice—shake yourself of all this negative weight and move the effon or join the overpopulated league of cribbing sorry faces (the ‘advertising sucks’ brigade )orwalk out. But if you really want to be here, you would realize that gaining/regaining focus is almost as easy as losing it. With time, if you manage to find your ground and try to extract something useful out of everything (there always will be something), eventually you will improve (a lot), your ideas will see the light of the day, your work will get their attention, and you will have that delicious creative satisfaction. Without having to kiss anybody’s ass.

Your dream project?
For as long as I remember, I’ve seen myself telling me, “I wish I had done/written this” on several occasions. The ‘P& G Thank You Mom’ commercial was one such episode. It gave me Goosebumps, and anything that does that to you, is beyond exceptional. There’s an indigo ad, ‘reading inspires kids’,which had me in tears. I still remember watching it time and again, and getting overwhelmed every single time. My dream project is to create something that does ‘this’ to people.

Your upcoming campaigns, if you can talk about it 🙂
I’m currently creating a platform for readers/writers where user generated content will move between two parallel streams. Essentially, a unique story telling experience. I’m planning to use my break to set it up completely, and hopefully it’ll go live, soon enough.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
The girl that I’m attached to.Because I love her a lot. And I’m equally scared of her.

What’s on your iPod?
Beatles, Lana Del Rey, Adele, and everything Bollywood.

Mac or PC?






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