Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Lead Kindly Light"

As I  prepare to tick one more box off the calender of my life in advertising, I take a  pause and wonder.
 Can  advertising a lighthouse, or a beacon  or will it primarily be a mirror?

My paper in the Chevening Scholarship was on Beauty and Women in advertising. That was the year Dove launched its Real Beauty  campaign and my paper was brimming with Dove and real women. Finally, advertising had reached its age. Where we could show reality and not airbrushed clones all over again.

Six years later, I am as much part of what we see around us and proud of the work as well. The work has built brands, catapulted  market share and sustained brands through the trough.

Yet there are times when I  wonder whether there is something more I can do through the work I have done for 14 long years.
Can we  be bolder when it comes to showing women and change?
Change is not a discussion about short kurtis and jeans instead of a saree and feeling proud that we have shown a modern women. Change is not enough when we limit the spirit of winning to young men and young boys.
A young modern mother's role more than  serving children food,  and worrying about her husband's cholestrol level and insurance.
Am wondering whether I can think of a  brand  that can stand up and say- I am about  change. I reflect the  dreams and desires of the young modern Indian woman. And showcase this proudly.
There is so much of advertising consumed every minute. Every second. No social media has the reach of a mass media brand spend. No NGO can ever hope to match up.

If some of the work also had an inspiring quotient,  served as a call for action for women in smaller towns who are still straining at the leashes, shone the spotlight on the working wife and mother who has done an excellent job of managing  home and life,  applauded an unsung hero who had stood against society, woven into the brand message,  there would definitely be a change. Definitely easier said than done. But then, it is fine to at least wonder and debate.

Read somewhere that the best productivity and impact happens when there is an element of greater good. Whether it is a product, service, institution, brand or industry.

Of course there is reality. Brand need to compete, brands need aspirations, brands have their own personality and need to speak in their voice. Reality also is that we are not in the business  of simply inspiring people, we inspire people to relate to, and ultimately drive preference for a brand.Reality is that real life  does not make for interesting creative. Am part of the business and know this and all the other realities we operate it. It is indeed very challenging .

Yet , in brief moments like this, when I take a pause, I long to make a  small difference. At least to the women I create work for.When the work on the brand can also inspire her to  take just one small step against the leash of life.

After all, we are in the business of weaving dreams.

It's all about Passion

Waking up earlier than the lark this week.
Burning midnight oil.
Pouring over books whose pages have yellowed with time and neglect
Writing, rewriting.....

And all this without interuppting work and family.
Can't afford to. It's my "freetime" venture.
Because  all this effort is going towards my passion.
Teaching. Rather "Guest lecturing".

Realise how important it is to feed our passions.
Brings out the best in us, fuels fire and sparks off ideas we never imagined we could dream of.

Sometimes,  people like me let work take up so much time that we kill the passions that  drive us.
Making us unhappy, monotonic, mechanical.

We complain about having no time.
We talk about time poor lives in meetings and breaks.

Yet,   it takes so little if we really put our mind and heart to it.
Just need  a strong dose of determination, a spoonful of planning and a sackful of hard work.

I have learnt so much in the last few days.
New examples, fresh insights, revamped theories... things long forgotten in the lapse of time.

Nothing comes easy.
More so, if we follow a passion that is not part of our regular work and life.

But at the end of the day, it is these passions that make us better individuals, make us complete.
Making us more productive, more enlightened.

And above all, keeping us very happy.
Because, with happiness,  comes health, comes success, comes relationships. Everything.

With this short rambling, I go back to my guest lecture prep and midnight oils.
Thanking God for finally making me wise enough to realise that  if we kill passion, a part of us die.