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We need to hit factory reset on the factory mindset – why work-life balance plays an important role in creating good advertising
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Why do creative folks care more about quantity today over quality work? Asks Jay Morzaria, Group Creative Manager, Schb...
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We need to hit factory reset on the factory mindset – why work-life balance plays an important role in creating good advertising

Why do creative folks care more about quantity today over quality work? Asks Jay Morzaria, Group Creative Manager, Schb...
  • Jay Morzaria, Group Creative Manager, Schbang reminisces better days of advertising.
  • A decade ago, copywriters did overtime to craft better ideas but today, it is all about meeting an urgent deadline.
  • Most retainers today are negotiated on the basis of media deliverables – X no. of posts, Y banners and Z emailers.
  • While he views the digital ecosystem as a liberating force, Morzaria writes how advertising is becoming more about quantity than quality.
The last few years have seen rapid change in systems and processes across organizations. Until two years ago, work-from-home would be considered to be a joke. It was something that you did if you ran out of leaves.

Today, and at least till some part of the foreseeable future, work-from-home remains the only way to work. And this change happened in just a span of two years.

Basically, we were quick to change when we were forced to do so by nature.

Hence, these days I find myself praying to the Almighty to strike down on advertising with an equally potent and brute force of nature, which could probably and hopefully restore some sense of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no sadist and I love advertising no matter how challenging it is to still explain my job to my family.

But it’s that love for advertising that makes me realize that something has changed, and it is not for the better. Ask some really senior people in the industry, and they will tell you about the better days of advertising. They will tell you about the late nights they spent crafting that one campaign which eventually became their claim to fame. They will tell you about their experiences with their rather strict bosses, who insisted on perfecting every line of a print ad or a script. They will also be quick to express their disappointment in the way most advertising is crafted today and how the digital space is filled with banal and tactical garbage.

For a millennial like me, who views the digital ecosystem as a liberating force, it is hard to fathom that. However, they are not completely wrong.

A deeper look at the state of the advertising industry will reveal how we have turned it into a quantity game rather than a quality game. Most retainers today are negotiated on the basis of media deliverables – X no. of posts, Y banners and Z emailers. To keep costs in check, resource allocation is done by dividing his/her time into percentages. (Wait, what? I am supposed to only give 30% of me to this brand? I thought I was supposed to give a hundred!)

While all this nonsense seems good on paper, what ends up happening in reality is even more nonsensical. On an average, each writer in an agency is allotted at least a minimum of three brands, if not more. Now, even if you count one post per day on each brand (which could be reasonable or unreasonable depending on the kind of brand), this writer has to prepare around 80-90 posts in a month. Now add at least a minimum of two layers of feedback on each of these posts. Add the constant back and forth. Add the line of feedback which says “Why can’t we do something cool like Zomato or Swiggy?”

If this wasn’t enough, there are those ‘urgent’ briefs which come directly from the CMO or CEO disguised as vile threats – adhere to their timeline or they will have no option but to look out for another agency who can pull off an entire campaign by yesterday.

Forget the 9 hours of a working day, even 24 hours seem less to meet the constant pressure and unreasonable deadlines. The same creative person who was the driving force behind an amazing campaign until some time back feels like a vendor in his own agency today. He doesn’t have any say in the process, he has no room for negotiation, he isn’t allowed to question the brief and most importantly, he just doesn’t have time!

What we have done effectively over years is turn a precious pool of talent into an assembly line which doles out mindless posts for all kinds of trends based on the whims and fancies of internal or external stakeholders. We have systematically lowered the importance of high-quality craft and genuine creativity by quantifying everything on the basis of media deliverables without giving much emphasis to the quality of the creative goods. Perhaps this is because quantity can be fixed and guaranteed, but the same cannot be said about quality.

So, here’s the thing – your retainer only accounts for a few measly hours of time in a creative’s day. And every brand expects this person to write the next viral campaign or the next trending post. However, he/she has to write 10 such posts on the same day, get them designed, get feedback, revise, get more feedback till it finally gets approved. This person is most likely overworked, underpaid and frustrated.

Now, as much as one may hate to admit this, creativity in advertising continues to be all about charting the uncertain territories, going deeper beyond the surface and infusing life’s observations into campaigns that resonate with the audience and strike a chord with them. It starts with the death stare of a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and it takes a roller-coaster ride through a gamut of emotions, feedback loops, and incessant negotiations for a good idea to finally see the light of day. It’s only fair that we let the creative person take the time out to live a life so that he/she can pump life into your brand’s next campaign.

The mindset of getting more output from less input is a great way to run a factory, but let’s not confuse this with ROI; any investment takes a long-term commitment to even yield decent returns. And as far as advertising is concerned, it was never optimized for factory settings, and never will be.

At the end of all this, in case you are wondering about a solution as a fellow lover of advertising, you are most welcome to join me in my prayers to the Almighty. Or you could revisit that headline.