Priyanka Chatterjee, Senior VP, Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi talks point at the various factors that have prevented her from falling out of love with advertising
When a superbly crafted series on advertising in 1960s Manhattan starts, you get hooked to it. Madmen, showcasing the heydays of classic advertising, made me relive the journey that I chose, with a pay-cut no less! The handsome, genius of a Creative Director; that heady feeling after a winning presentation; “cracking of ideas” en route to the client’s office; eclectic fashion from elevator to boardroom; the irreverence to be different and the pot-pourri of personalities…
A lot has changed today, and that’s not just the absence of mini bars across agency floors! Just like our fast-paced and demanding lives, advertising now is a lot about “unrealistic” deadlines, insecure client relationships, spending more time getting “work done” vs. being glamorous - it’s high pressure. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and fall out of love. However, even after 1.5 decades, I’m still in love.
Why is advertising still worth the love?
The only judgment you’ll ever face is for your work: In most industries, your path up the ladder can be impacted by gender bias, relationship status, hemlines, necklines and such. In an ad agency, this is not even corridor gossip usually. The only thing I have ever been judged for is my work. The big debate on gender diversity that even the Valley & Hollywood are struggling with, is not even a debate in an agency. What pay gap?
How can you not love the industry where judgments are reserved for work and work alone?
You have the power to open minds & hearts: In the daily madness, we lose sight of the impact of our work on people, businesses and sometimes, even countries. It goes beyond selling a product or a brand to creating hope, confidence, sparking debates and fuelling change. Powerful communication can ignite a generation, empower change, break taboos, change perceptions, alter behaviour.
How can you not love an industry that gives you the power to trigger change?
The little, big things that make all the difference: Long before tech campus culture got cool, ad agencies had it figured out. Pool tables to gaming, Friday dressing on all days, being on first name basis with CEOs. Been there, done that. Nobody is “too junior” to share opinions. As most advertising leaders say, an idea can come from anyone. This is perhaps the only industry (outside of politics) where it’s your job to disagree, oppose, fight, argue. Drama is in the DNA of any good agency.
How can you not love a culture that demolishes hierarchy and protocols for creativity?
The experience of characters, not just people: Most professions require a particular skill or knowledge leading to a fairly homogenous mix of people. Every ad agency, be it a local start-up or a global network, is full of the most eclectic mix of individuals. “Characters” crafted by Murakami or Rowling. The eccentric genius, the process maniac, the poet, the spiritual guru, the stock market expert, the gyani, the fashionista, the engineer, the traveller, all merge to create memorable work.
How can you not love an industry that lets you experience personalities, not just people?
We are still the Madmen: How often have I heard marketeers say that they look forward to the “agency” coming to office – isn’t discussing ideas, songs, films, shoots, celebrities so much more fun than numbers, charts, excel sheets? Our presence, be it that risqué fashion sense or uninhibited attitude, is a disruption on the predictable corporate floors.
How can you not love being the breath of fresh air in a world that needs it so badly?