Monday, January 6, 2014

THE TIME OF MY LIFE...X..AN AFFAIR WITH ADVERTISING



A person who has a mind of her own, must have alternatives. I decided not to put all my eggs in one basket. This meant developing multiskills. Communication was to be my chosen field but I would dabble in its many forms. Unlike the proverbial rolling stone, I have been able to gather some moss on the way. When I was a part- time lecturer in Bangalore  , I had nothing to do during summer vacation. Having been introduced to copy writing, I went to ASP, an ad agency and sought an interview with the branch manager, George Paul ( He now has his own agency, PARADE).He was kind enough to sign me on a  part- time copy writer. That is where I learnt  the ropes of advertising. The Delhi branch of ASP wanted a focus group discussion to be conducted in Kannada for housewives on instant coffee. George wanted me to handle it as I speak Kannada and my teaching experience helped me feel comfortable as a moderator. My earlier stint with Org as a market research field investigator ( where I fudged answers !) helped me understand the concept. One thing lead to another and I have moderated over 500 focus groups on products as diverse as paints and pencils with respondents ranging from school kids to executive. I worked with stalwarts like Ranjan Kapoor (Ogilvy & Mather) Usha Bhandarker ( creative genius) and Rhoda Mehta ( Media wizard) on various assignments, using the IPT (Idea Progression Technique).
As a part – time lecturer in KC College , I got off from work by noon .Arjun & Anil were in high school and Srivatsa was serving on a ship. We lived in a naval accommodation, Dhanraj Mahal, near the Gateway of India. It  was centrally located and within walking distance to office complexes and my college. I mention this because I was lucky to be living close to my work place so I could save commuting time and use it for other activities. One afternoon, I went to Nariman Point and walked into the first building I saw. I went in and read the names of the offices in the lobby. I chose third floor since it would be easy to climb if the lift went out of order. ARMS was an ad agency on that floor. I went up and asked to see the big boss. He turned out to be Mr Ramesh Khanna , who happened to be looking for a part- time copy writer. I went to work next day and was with the agency for three years. I was put on the Times of India account as I was working as a subeditor in FEMINA the previous year .I had to write the copy for all TOI publications ads.  By this time , I had become an expert in time management and could juggle a number of freelance assignments. Teaching in the morning, copy writing in the afternoon, teaching again in the evening, conducting focus groups as and when. My days were full.
It was time to move on to a full time job. AA were old enough to handle that ! I responded to an AD for a publicity manager and joined Westerwork Engineers. My principal was very unhappy when I told him I wanted to quit teaching because my asthma was getting worse. He let me go with his blessings . Mr. Khanna and I parted friends.
 It was a new  experience – to be sitting in one place for eight hours .My job involved interacting with the advertising agency to supervise printing of product leaflets and arrange for photography of new machines (it was this experience which helped my producing the Naval Dockyard book). I had a vey supportive colleague in Zeb and we made a good team. But the pace was too slow for my adrenalin. The company was going through a money crunch and the first thing that gets hit is publicity.