It's the largest
spectator sport of its kind. Popularly called D-Day, the event begins with an irate client storming into an agency's office, clutching a bunch of papers in one hand. He marches up to the unsuspecting creative guy's desk, as sympathetic servicing guys and peers look on.
He pins the creative fellow with a piercing look and drops the papers in front of him, screeching, "You call this your creative idea?" And then… it's back to the drawing board.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that D-Day stands for Deadline Day - a day with which most creative folks are familiar. With the clock ticking away and the noose ready nearby, how do admen come up with that elusive brilliant idea?
"Deadlines are obviously crucial in our profession," says V Mahesh, senior creative director, O&M. "But experience has a lot to do with ideating. One gets better with time. If a client corners me today and demands an ad by tomorrow, I may not produce my best, but I will definitely come up with something feasible."
He adds that seven out of ten times, creative guys settle for ideas that are less than ideal because they are handling close to 10 projects at the same time.
"Having said that, one of the best ways to ideate is to have a discussion about life with someone with whom you're comfortable. For me, that person is my partner, Rajiv Rao," Mahesh discloses. Often, he says, during the course of an unrelated conversation, an idea suddenly pops up, the way the idea for Hutch came up.
Over a general, unrelated conversation, Rao and Mahesh came up with the whole 'follow' theme. The original plan was to show a kid sister following her brother. "That felt too saccharine sweet," Mahesh recalls. So, through an intense round of discussions, the idea of the Hutch pug following the little boy took shape.
For Ryan Menezes, national creative director, Mudra, the mantra is solitude.
"I shut my cell phone off, ask not to be disturbed and walk into my cabin," he says. "I sit quietly and concentrate on the brief for one solid hour. The plan is to not allow the slightest shred of panic to enter one's mind."
But not everyone has such tremendous control over their minds. Menezes says he developed this control four years ago, when he was working at Lowe, Nairobi. "We used to work on several briefs at the same time," he recalls. "We didn't even have the time to panic. Out there, I just developed this habit of tossing ideas around in my head at great speed."
Then there are others, among them Josy Paul, national chairman, David, who believe that a break from the current environment, particularly in the form of physical exertion, is what best lures in the ideas. "One needs to physically get oneself into a new groove, away from the rut," Paul says. "I usually go for a jog at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai, or just take a walk somewhere. Usually, I get an idea in an hour's time."
If the idea remains elusive at the end of the hour, Paul uses all his creative juices to come up with an 'excuse' to feed the client the next day. "In fact, I have realised that the effort to come up with fresh excuses unleashes a whole new creative side in me!" he quips.
The creative directors from McCann-Erickson, Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat, get ideas from what they call 'the library'.
"This library exists in our minds," says Manish Bhatt. "It is nothing but a collection of old ideas that we had come up with at some point, but which didn't get used at the time."
So, whenever the duo are faced with a bad deadline, they dip into the archives of their minds and look over the rejected ideas, checking if any of them can be applied to the present situation. "In a way, it is this 'recycling' of old ideas that keeps us going," explains Bhatt. "In fact, sometimes, the ideas for a particular category can be used for any related category just as well."
Bhatt adds that it is very important to keep on thinking about the idea till one actually comes up with a good one. "It's quite common for us to put in long hours and spend several nights in a bid to find the creative concept. The point is that one should keep on thinking about it till one finds it," he asserts.
(To be continued...)
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