Who's behind those ads?

On Job: Brainstroming. Photo: S. S. Kumar   | Photo Credit: S.S.Kumar

“So you want to be in... what?” they quipped. Referring to the fact that I wanted to join design school and ended up in advertising or a creative career. Flashback to 2001 when working in an ad agency meant you didn't have the marks needed to pursue a career in engineering or medicine or there was something vaguely wrong with you and you couldn't point out what it was. And cut back to today and the way and the profession is looked at has indeed come full circle.

A career in advertising today is perceived to be ‘cool'! The word ‘advertising agency' throws up a myriad references in the human brain. From shoots in exotic destinations, to rubbing shoulders with celebrities, from slapping backs with top notch photographers to hanging out at the coolest parties in town, the perception that it's a fun career choice may be right but not till you see the serious side of the business.

An advertising agency is a large melting pot of talent. From MBAs in crisp Armani suits to 20-something creative geeks at their colourful best, from number-crunching geniuses wearing wire-rimmed spectacles to client servicing gurus who can convince you to buy a sweater in Chennai on the hottest day of May, they all exist here!

Take a walk down an advertising agency and you'll discover a frenzy of activity where no two days are ever the same. An ad agency features a wide array of professionals trying to sell everything from safety pins to cars, from nappies for babies to anti-wrinkle creams to aging beauties. Every agency is widely divided into four and sometimes five departments that work in cohesion delivering the best for their clients.

So it takes all these multi-faceted individuals to put together a great looking ad that people may spend a few seconds on. Is it worth it? You bet it is. To stand across a billboard and look at your idea being screamed at to thousands or to step into a home and to watch a commercial you created being enjoyed by millions is a feeling of satisfaction that keeps most advertising professionals raring to go day after day. To sum it all up from a creative perspective: Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.

The Creative Department

The creative department is primarily made up of art directors and copywriters. While the art directors are mainly responsible for the look and feel of any creative effort, the copywriters are the brains behind the word play. Both report to a creative director, the big boss at this department.

Most art directors come in to the business after pursuing a visual communications programme, a fine arts degree or a design diploma. Copywriters, on the other hand, don't really have a defined course to pursue in actuality. If you have the gift of the gab, if word play interests you or you can express things in a not-so-common way, then you may fit the role.

It is absolutely not necessary to assume that all copywriters only write and all art directors design. Both roles often overlap and contribute in creating the final output. A creative idea could come from either of them.

Creative teams often work with ad filmmakers, photographers, model coordinators, illustrators and various other professionals outside the agency who in turn help bring their ideas to life. The creative department is testimony to the phrase “advertising is the most fun you can have with your pants on.”

The Account Services/Client Servicing Department

So if the creative department is the brain of an agency, the client servicing team ought to be its heart. Here you'll find marketing geniuses who liaise with the client and understand his business down to the minutest detail. They understand his communication needs, his competition and often have in-depth knowledge about his sphere of business.

Client servicing teams are mostly made up of professionals who have an MBA or a Sales/Marketing Diploma. After understanding a client's needs, they provide briefs to the creative team, which gives the latter a direction and also contains information about the product, the desired output of the creative effort, the budgets, the target audience, their attitudes, behaviours and more.

Client servicing professionals report to the client servicing director. These are often the silent unsung heroes behind the final creative output. While you may look at an ad and appreciate the creative idea and how great it looked, a large part of the process is silently coordinated by several of these masterminds who often judge the audiences' pulse and act as a beacon of light to the creative team.

The Media Services/Media Planning Department

So now that the ad is made and approved, who watches it at what time on which channel? Or reads it on which day in what newspaper or magazine? Enter the media planner, the grey matter behind the release and delivery of the creative effort. This team is made up of members who are in sync with the effectiveness of various media vehicles. They also work with various newspapers, publications, television channels and media houses to understand the best place to release a creative effort. Media planners often have a media studies degree, a degree in electronic media or an MBA in marketing.

The Studio Department

Be it that flawless skin on a model, that glossy hair in a shampoo advertisement, the spectacular shine of jewellery or that marvellous façade of a skyscraper, if you find yourself ‘oohing' and ‘aahing' about how great an ad looks, the credit goes to the studio department. Often composed of wizards in software, these masterminds can make everything and anything look good. Often involving hours of painstaking work, the final look often involves the talent of these professionals. Most professionals in the studio department work up the ladder and you'll always find one who has put in years of service heading the team: the studio manager.

The Production Department

The production department often does what the name suggests. They ensure that the creative ideas get produced after they are approved by a client. They are the ones who ensure everything runs smoothly; from coordinating film and photo shoots to printing, from maintaining costs to keeping a tab on budgets, production coordinators deal with external vendors to ensure that the process from idea to creation is smooth. Producers with vast experience are called executive producers.

Sandeep is the CEO/Managing Partner at be positive 24

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 5:04:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/whos-behind-those-ads/article2144295.ece

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