Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Behind the scenes...

Sometime during my teens I stumbled into advertising and worked in ad agencies during weekends through pre university. By the time the stint was over I had learned all that is know about advertising and was all set for an illustrious career in anything other than advertising. The tricks and gimmicks that I have learned working in an ad agency will be very useful for people who are contemplating an advertising career in the Creative side...

The web defines Advertisement as "Item of publicity to promote a product or service in newspapers, magazines, on TV etc."

Let me take the example of the following products/service to illustrate this point.


Marketing guy from shampoo company (MG): Ok, We need to push up sales of our Gopika shampoo.
Creative Director of Ad Agency(CD): And what is unique about your shampoo that we can highlight?
MG: Nothing.
CD: Great!

CD sends out a talent scout to look for a gal with long lustrous hair.

Talent Scout (TS) to gal with long lustrous hair: Ma’am you have lovely hair
Gal: er.. thank you. Do I know you?
TS: I am from ABC Modeling Agency, would you like to model?
Gal (jumping up and down with glee): wow !!! What will it be? Revlon cosmetics, Lee Jeans or a Mercedes car?
TS: could call it cosmetics...

After the confirmation and paperwork CD sets up the photo shoot. The gal’s hair is washed and cleaned by an expert beautician using the best imported shampoo and lots of photographs are taken of her hair in various hair styles in landscaped gardens, in the shower, in an office setting etc.

Scene at the studio

Gal: what the f*&%$ I thought I will be modeling for cosmetics, why are you photographing my hair and not my face?
CD: er, this is just the beginning; we will unveil your lovely face in a phased manner.
Gal (happily): Oh ok.

After the shoot she is paid a pittance and unceremoniously shown the door.


MG: I know our Raja Toothpaste sucks but I gotta sales target to meet here.
CD: Whatever!

Talent Scout is sent to various colleges during lunch break. He shortlists a couple of gals and guys with the widest grins, and gets them over to the studio where a dentist waits with white paint.

Scene at the studio

Gal no. 1: What’s that? (Pointing to the white paint)
Dentist: This is XYZ teeth cleaner.
Guy no. 2: What does it do?
Dentist: It cleans your teeth to a sparkling white. It is IDA certified.
Guys and Gals: That’s neat!!
Dentist to assistant: Give them all my visiting card. They will definitely need it by this time tomorrow.

The guys and gals are clothed in funky college costumes and their teeth painted white by the dentist. The photographer adjusts his filter to subdue the shine from their teeth and takes numerous group photos of the guys and gals grinning widely at the camera.

After the shoot they are paid a pittance and unceremoniously shown the lift, aching jaws and all.


HR Manager: We need to get the best talents into our company.
CD: Ok, so what are the benefits that your company offers prospective employees?
HR: Benefits?? What’s that?
CD: Ok, I get the point!

Talent Scout is sent out to Engineering colleges to look for very ordinary looking guys and gals (VOG)(This is for a more realsitic effect). After short listing a few he approaches them.

TS: Hello I am from XYZ Modeling agency; we are looking for your kinda face for our latest ad campaign.
VOG: Us?
TS: Yes !! You guys kinda fit the role. What are your names?
VOG no 1: I am Nadamuri Tharakka Venkatravamma and these are my friends Marudur Gopala Krishnan , Shinykutty Johnson, Srilakshmi Venkatachalapathy and Konkona Roychowdhury.
TS: Whew that was quite a mouthful. You will look just right for the role I have in mind.

VOGs are dressed in office wear with access cards around their necks and taken to Taj Westend. They are made to sit in the conference room and photographed looking seriously into laptops. A blond man staying at the hotel is persuaded to sit with them for the shoot for added effect. Then the guys’ strip into swimming suits while the girls enter the pool in their Salwars and pose like they are having a blast. Finally they are taken to the in-house discotheque where they are photographed dancing and presumably having fun.

HR to CD: Make it look like it is great working for Really Soft Technologies Pvt. Ltd. even though we are a 24/7 sweatshop.
CD(sarcastically): Shall I shoot the Vidhana Soudha as the new Really Soft Technologies Pvt. Ltd. building madam ?
HR: Why not! Personally I would have preferred the Taj Mahal but we don’t have the money to send you even by second class three tier to Agra.

After the shoot the VOGs are paid a pittance and ceremoniously shown the Taj Westend gate by the liveried Gatekeeper.

The copywriter then takes these photos, writes a catchy headline a smart body copy and makes a snazzy advertisement, which is splashed in various publications for your consumption.

I think I will stick with Shikakai powder, Neem twigs and my present company.


kickassso said...

wow me first:P

kickassso said...

there was this ad for our college, in which 5(!)mercedes benzes were shown parked in front of it. people still ask where they went!

Mind Curry said...

hehe..but frankly i feel the media industry is one with some of the best talent and i truly respect it. infact i love anything to do with the industry, though i am a very behind the scenes person. recently we had a press release for a new facility we opened called "cord blood banking". After spending hours to educate a PR firm, they come up the next day with a proof that read "cold blood banking"

Alexis Leon said...

'... will unveil your lovely face in a phased manner.' ROFL

'Nadamuri Tharakka Venkatravamma and these are my friends Marudur Gopala Krishnan , Shinykutty Johnson, Srilakshmi Venkatachalapathy and Konkona Roychowdhury.' More ROFL

Hilarious as usual. I have read somewhere that the vegetable and fruits shown in the ads are painted to give them the bright colors. With your revelations, I think that could be true. Nice one.

Thanu said...

And I always wanted me to be a model.

Vikram said...

Geez! I knew advertising was just a medium to fool people but I just got to know what really happens "behind the scenes". :D

Hilarious post. I liked the sarcasm and cynicism hidden in those lines by the advertising professionals. :)

But, you have to hand it to them. The "professional con-artists". :P

Ammo said...

An eye opener of sorts...considering the fact that I am in office @ 8:15 am, ready to doze off any minute :D

I loved the whole "APPOINTMENT AD FOR IT COMPANY" part.


silverine said...

@kikcasso: Was it an appointment ad for Lecturers? Then there must have been a rush of applicants for the Mercedes kinda salaried job :)) But seriously that's just the kind of work ad agencies do, when the marketing guys take over the creative reins.
@mindcurry: Cold Blood was funny :))Well...the best creative talents are now working for IT comapanies in communications! There is a severe shortage of copywriters due to the uncertainties in an ad agency job.
@Alexis: We do have artists who touch up vegetables and food items. These guys are highly paid and do a good job 'preparing' food items for photoshoot. Glad you liked the post. It is the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God! :))
@Thanu:In one agency we went around asking for photos of employees kids to use for a Garment Shop's ads!!!
@Vikram: "professional con-artists" Thank you, I will take that as a compliment as I was one of them till two years ago :))The biggest bane of ad professionals is the marketing guys who interfere with everything and literally 'creative direct' the ads !!!
@Ammo:Thank you ! :)

Matter of Choice said...

hmmm...i need more elaboration on what the copy writer does ..u kinda glossed over it!!!

sounds like a fun place to work, especially if one has a crooked sense of humor :)

between i still think that advertising does fulfill a great function, that of introducing new products and services to the society. Otherwise there wont be any pressure on existing players to innovate/reduce prices as they will be confident that no new competitor will be able to come in.

Sorry to take off on that serious tangent on ur "as usual unique" way of writing. But thats what u get when an accountant comments on advertising hehehe


Matter of Choice said...

oh yeah forgot to ask you. could you get me the number of the girl with the long lustrous hair? SF

Bluefrogtribute said...

SOunds like an interesting toture place i would like to be the scout and bullshit to all these aspiring models ha ha.. Take them and just photograph their feet... ha ha

Geo said...

>> gal with long lustrous hair



I know whom u r referring to. what say Thanu? ;_)

>>the best creative talents are now working for IT comapanies in communications!

they kicked u out or what? ;_)

Pls do lemme know if u r lookin for a partner on the ramp. :_)

perplexed kid said...

good one.....after reading this i don't think i will ever aspire for modelling...

silverine said...

@MoC:between i still think that advertising does fulfill a great function, that of introducing new products and services to the society.... blah blah blah. So tell me something that I dont know :))Sorry for taking off on this tangent but you asked for it. This was the spoof I told you long back that I will write one day :))
p.s. About the girl with long lustrous hair...I am not into Rose House kinda work you know ROFL
@blufrogtribute:You will do great as a talent scout I am sure! :))
@Geo: I kicked myself out :)) And I said long lustrous hair and not waist length hair =)) Gotcha this time!!!
@perplexedkid: This is a spoof. Don't take it too seriously. There are agencies doing great work. You can see that by the International awards we get. But then again such agencies are rare too.

Mind Curry said...

"...the best creative talents are now working for IT comapanies in communications!" - well, with you in an IT company, I sure can believe that..though am certain some of the others are still left in the media as well.

Safari Al said...

Shinykutty Johnson



Pradeep Nair said...

Interesting. For my Mass Comm course adcopy writing was the elective. Though I am as much interested in the ad world as jounalism, I get much less time to keep track. One of the spirited debates I participated in was "Why ad agencies should use the body of a girl to advertise a car?" I was on the side of the ad agencies. By the way, I had no objections (to the girl) and now, 20 years down the line, still, I don't have! said...

wow , that was some good humours behind-the-scene ad secrets.

One big marketting guru has once said, "Marketting is selling nothing for anything". So, I guess these guys are still not great marketeers selling something and not nothing.

Another thing. how do you differentiate between Akai, Aiwa or Samsung TVs. They have almost same feature and same pricing. So there the advertising agency does its part. To differentiate a goat from a herd of goat. not an easy task but when ethics and values are back benchers , its not a tough task either.

So next time you buy a new shampoo, double check it with your kiths and kins :D


hope and love said...

hmmm.. ads paint everything rosy.. its so irritating to watch them..

Anonymous said...

Great post.

What's the differance between these guys, lawyers and politians? As far as I can see they do teh same thing :-)

ജെയിംസ് ബ്രൈറ്റ് said...

This is an interesting plot. If someone can make an investigative documentary on this subject, it would be lovely...!

Rahman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rahman said...

Reality at its best...

It seems that no one can better you in presenting the facts of life in a humorous manner! :)

I keep reading your earlier posts whenever I feel bored to cheer up! ;)

quills said...

Good one Silverine! But I really admire the creative geniuses behind some of the popular ads.
I mean isn't that what they are supposed to do anyway ... grab attention and make the viewer spite of some of these being totally misleading.

Sujith said...

hmm.. guess an ad agency shud be my next destination. nt because of the kind of work, but.. ;-))

-Poison- said...

legally sanctioned confidence artists...kashtam!!!

silverine said...

@mindcurry:The mainstream agencies do have brilliant talents working for them, but then they are a handful. I know two senior colleagues from a National Agency who are without a job now because the ideas have dried up and they cannot contribute creatively. They are hardly 35 years old.This is what makes the new crop of copywriters avoid an ad agency job, instead take a regular job and continue advertising as freelancers.All my peers are in communications :)
@Safari Al: :)
@Pradeep: Well if it sells the car why not?
@ATG: The marketing guru was write. Bigger ad agencies work closely with a brand so they are aware of its pros and cons and ups and downs in the market and make suitable communications according to market indicators.
@HnL: True and they don't realise that people are not that gullible anymore.
@Browser: Hey you are right!!
@dreamslittle: Thats a brilliant idea. A cameraman can follow the development of an ad. It would be very interesting for the people, but dunno if the agencies concerned would like their secrets out in the public LOL
@1.618: I think you could relate to what I wrote because you are in a similar field. Thank you, glad my posts help dispel your boredom :)
@Quills: Yes, an ad should sell a product and create goodwill among the consumers. And there are some wonderfully talented people out there who are doing the same.
@Jithu: Talent Scout avaan ano udhesham? :)
@Poison: kashtam indeed. That's why they are called 'dream merchants' lol

Anonymous said...

Hello Silverine,

First time at your post as a commentor , though I have been following your posts for a long time now. You may know me. I was in MIA with Gopi. I am really glad to see this post. Though it is written in a humorous manner it unveils a lot truths. Perhaps you can attempt a post on 'ad brief's'. Now that would be really interesting, especially coming from you. Keep writing, you have a lot of readers in the ad world.

Sreekesh Menon

Vikram said...

//Thank you, I will take that as a compliment as I was one of them till two years ago//

Yeah, a compliment is what I meant it to be..:)

Mind Curry said...

the handful of close friends that i have are all associated with the media industry - like you said most of them in communications, television and radio rather than mainstream advertising. and my respect for your clan has only grown over the years. by the way, you are creating waves in blogosphere. silverine is a brand now :)

Safari Al said...

if you know any of those pretty girls that are single and looking then tell them to drop by on my blog. i might have an interesting proposition for them.

*grin grin grin*

Gladtomeetin said...

Interesting.....but is this what happens "behind the scenes".....
ooooooooooooooooo ( a wide open mouth)

Anonymous said...

I have always thought if good products really need advertising, if word of mouth and viral marketing do exists... If the product is good enough i should just move...

Anonymous said...

Bad products do need advertising.. The shampoo ad shot was hilarious.. How was the party BTW.. forgot to ask..

perplexed kid said...

hehe...nah i wasn't that serious but then i don't think i will be a model...i'm already preoccupied...

Anonymous said...

heh. pity the f00s who want to become models. gone case they r. how much kass does a model get? ill send of doctorpissed and blufrog. give their kass to 'save the dalda from tsunami' fund.

monu said...

reminds me of "Dhakshayani Biscuits" in a Mohanlal movie [:D]

Whoosh 2 said...

kalakkitei maams!! :)

Anonymous said...

funny :)

Praveen said...

LOL,i liked the toothpaste section the best :)

silverine said...

@Sreekesh; I remember you, glad to see you here !!!
@Vikram: thanks again :)
@mindcurry: Yes, mainstream advertising is in the throes of some upheavel now!Silverine a brand??? Now thats news!!!
@Safari AL:tsk tsk bad boy!!! Concentrate on your studies :))
@gladtomeetin: Yes, this is how it is done!!! :))
@anthony: The party was great, yakked a lot :)) Word of mouth is the second leg after print and TV commercials and viral marketing is still in infancy in India. Traditional mode of print advtg is still the thumb rule.
@the dalda; I dunno how you come up with these ROFL comments every single time LOL
@Monu: True :)
@Whoosh and Lash: Thank you :)
@Praveen: Teeth Whiteners are an essential part of toothpaste advertising :))

Fleiger said...

Wow... Any more ads??? It seems the role of TS is the one needing most imagination ;)

Anonymous said...

hello chechi
u r an awesome writer n ur style's simply the time i finish readin an article of stomach will be achin n id be rollin on d floor tryin to silence my laughter while mom wud want to know wat kinda "crtical appreciations im readin on, day and night...and vether dey r really meant 4 my exams....."...i wish i cud ryt like u ....i wish i cud just start ..but no time...perhaps after my 12th

silverine said...

@Fleiger: The TS has a tough but interesting job :))
@dawngirl: Thank you so much for your comment.I would love to see your blog when you start writing. Do let me know :)

Anonymous said...

ROFL! Brilliant!

Am going through your archives and enjoying it so much!