Wednesday, January 8, 2014

THE TIME OF MY LIFE XII...Packing up my advertising stint





I learnt other skills from the president. Making an advertising presentation for example. He was good and under his guidance, I made a presentation of the first newspaper ad of Eureka Forbes for Euroclean, at the all India Sales Conference at  Jaipur. I was involved in the making of the ad from concept to release and he gave me full freedom to handle it independently. But the relationship was too rocky to last. I have  now learnt, after some hard knocks, that performance alone does not get you far…propriety too counts. You have to toe the line to be in the race. Since I was not, I decided to leave. 
I handed in my resignation with three months mandatory notice . The president, out of pique, called me a few days later and said I could leave before the stipulated period but refused to pay my three months salary in lieu, as specified in the appointment letter .His contention was that the clause was applicable only if I was fired . Instead of wasting my breath appealing to his sense of fairplay , I wrote a polite letter to the chairman ,
Dr Freddie Mehta, to kindly do the just thing. Promptly, I got a cheque from the company. How different from Mr. P C Neogy a chairman who did not  come into my rescue  later in my career to prevent  the gravest injustice done to me ! I cherish the letter written by Dr Freddie Mehta, expressing his regret at my decision to leave. He wished me luck and conveyed his greetings to my husband. That is class ! You don’t see many of like him around though.
I do not believe there is unemployment in India; at least for those who determinedly go after jobs. From Eureka Forbes, I went to Taj Group of Hotels, as advertising consultant on a one year contract. It was a part – time assignment. I was temperamentally not suited to abiding by a straight jacketed system and cope with  it all day. This job was not advertised, it was created by Camellia Panjabi, Senior Vice- President. I had always admired her for being one of the few professional women at the top, without piggy back riding on any contacts. She did not know me but since she is very approachable, I took an appointment and boom… I had the job. I was to work in the studio as copywriter for food festival menu cards, promotional literature for new properties. Before that, I  had to go through the three month induction programme, to know all the departments. I will never forget the experience. Now I know why 5- Star hotels charge what they do. Behind all that glitz and glamour is the sweat and toil of hundreds of people with different skills. The hotel industry supports thousands of other entrepreneurs, even rag pickers who come in at 6 in the morning and buy the contents of waste paper baskets from the hotel rooms. It is a remarkable venture and I am thankful to Camelia for giving me an opportunity to have a ringside view.
With that grand finale, I signed off my affair with advertising.  At some time, I was tempted to take it up as full time career, at least because of the money. But I was honest enough to admit that the hectic pace it prescribes, was not conducive to my priority – my family. It is no doubt a challenging field and very creative.  Perhaps it could do with a more organized work ethic. Neither the client nor the agency seems to  believe in the old fashioned method of planning Everything is wanted yesterday and thought of tomorrow. Some of my good friends have made waves and earned millions, but their personal lives have been in doldrums. They don’t even have time to fret about it!
Creativity need not necessarily mean chaos .While advertising calls for a round the clock passion for the product, it can be translated in to ten hour shifts of disciplined work ethics. I had seen my counterparts wasting a lot of time during working hours, socializing with each other over endless cups of tea and countless packets of cigarettes. No wonder they had to work crazy hours. With all due respects to the ad professionals, they would do well to pull up their socks and learn a bit of time management!