The Board exam results of different states are being declared and amidst this atmosphere of tension and high expectations, Vandana Sufia Katoch's Facebook post went viral.
She wrote this post on the day the results for the CBSE class-ten Board exams were announced. Most of the feedback she received was positive, save from a few who chose to criticise her parenting style. Over a telephonic conversation, Vanadana clarified that she was not celebrating anapathetic attitude; she was celebrating the hard work that her son put in and emphasised on the fact that marks do not define a person.
Vandana told us that at the time of putting up the post, she knew that what she was doing was not the norm, but she wasn't expecting the kind of response she got. "I first came to know it was going viral when my mom's friend sent me a screenshot of a WhatsApp message she received from another group. My post settings were private, but the next morning, a friend of mine suggested I change the privacy settings for the post because they wanted to share it. The way it has been received and shared is something I would never have imagined. It's unreal and overwhelming," she told us.
She pointed out that it's possible that people related to it because they've either gone through a similar situation or have children who might be going through similar situations. "It's one of those things that are always swept under the carpet because there's a lot of shame associated with it. As parents who have kids who are not getting marks that they expect, it can be very frustrating and painful - there are a lot of emotions riding on this. Suddenly, they saw a post with a totally different spin. That's what caught people by the heartstrings. I got a lot of mail and messages saying - you said what we felt," she said.
Vandana is also a prominent part of the adworld, apart from being a proud mother. She founded a creative agency called Clayground in 2012, before which she worked as a senior creative director at the DDB Mudra Group. She also worked with Contract Advertising for nearly 13 years.
We asked her what takeaways a brand can glean from her post and the responses it got. "I think they need to see the child holistically - as a student, a human being, someone of this world just discovering things, someone with quirks and strengths and weaknesses because there is so much more to a child. If we can get into these interesting angles, then it would help connect with the audience in a better way," she replied.
According to Vandana, the tendency is to talk about achievements, not necessarily marks, even if it's about sports. "It's not necessary that the end shot of an ad always has to be a student holding up a medal. Maybe it could be that he came forth; maybe he doesn't even get to stand on the podium among the top three - he still put in the effort and he still has abilities. Shine the spotlight on that and you have an interesting story right there. Those can be interesting insights. There's a rich space for creativity and interesting stories," she pointed out.
We asked her what she thought the difference was between working with an established creative agency and starting one up. While she said her experience working with Clayground taught her a lot, she compared her overall experience to working on a print campaign as opposed to working on a 360-degree campaign. "In a big company, everything else is taken care of and you get to focus on the creative part, but here it's a different ballgame. It brings out innate strengths that you didn't know you possessed," she explained, pointing out that on the flip side, it also makes one aware of the weaknesses they didn't know they had.
Some of the clients she worked with in the past included ITC's Vivel and Del Monte. At Clayground, she has clients like Apollo hospitals, Martens beer and Kajaria eternity.
Vandana's journey with Clayground hasn't been easy. She mentioned how starting an agency was always at the back of her mind. She took the plunge and started it when one of her long-standing clients said they would work with her when she went independent, hence Clayground was born.
"I wasn't chasing clients for money and if the clients weren't asking... payments and profitability became an issue," she told us. "It became quite difficult because clients expected my personal involvement and it became very difficult for me to manage my personal time. I was working late every night and we weren't making enough profits," she admitted.
"When one of the clients decided to leave, it was a blessing in disguise because it helped me look at things from a distance. It helped me break the rut that I'd gotten into. That's when I took a call and said I didn't start this to turn it into something that doesn't give me joy. I love advertising, I love creating and at the end, that took a backseat. That's why I decided to cut down on the size and the work in a tight, lean sort of way. It was a nice revival of sorts," she told us. Vandana also stated that working in a streamlined way helped her make time for the things she loves - mainly her family and dance.
"With advertising, you can never put your feet up and say 'done!' You need to keep working, but now we're doing it at a pace that is enjoyable for everyone involved," she said, signing off.
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