About a year and a half ago, when I started actively posting on LinkedIn, a very experienced person in the advertising industry said to me, “You shouldn’t show the industry in a bad light. You will be blacklisted.”
I don’t think that’s fair.
I’m not a whistleblower exposing hidden wrongdoing to the outside world. I’m not calling an evil force camouflaged in glamour. I’m just stating facts that people usually talk about long and often in bars and dimly lit hallways. I don’t reveal secrets. I just call a spade a spade.
My intention is not to paint the advertising industry in 50 shades of negativity. It never was. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I could make jokes about the fate of the industry. I could write wordy satirical articles about client-agency relationships. I could make memes about all of the above. But like most funny things, they come from a place of sadness and frustration. Same helplessness.
It was an industry that was once admired by the brightest minds in the country. “It’s the coolest profession,” many said. And they were right. After I took my first job in advertising, at every meeting with my non-advertising buddies, they wanted to listen to my stories. “Tell us everything,” they said. It was then.
Things have changed. Today, young people watch advertising with apprehension. And some, even with disgust. “Toxic”, they say with a grimace. When an internship doesn’t translate into a job, they don’t regret it. They sigh: “Phew! I dodged a bullet.” It’s sad. Especially when the words speak to the industry that is closest to my heart.
I want the industry to sit up and realize this before it’s too late. The tide turns and turns fast. I want us to prevent it from disappearing into the vastness of the ocean. I don’t want people to turn their backs on advertising. I want the industry to do some soul-searching and bring color, even a stain, to the gray reputation that has come to envelop it. And if even a handful of them do, I’ll consider my job done.
This could require a change in policy – wishful thinking, you might say. This can be by supporting a colleague in distress. It could be defending yourself. This could be by standing up against bullying – both internal and external. It could be fighting for and prioritizing your mental health. This could be by offering better compensation for the endless hours worked. This could be by offering compensatory time off for sacrificed weekends and holidays. It could be saying “no” to an unreasonable request, both internally and externally. Heck, it might even be acknowledging that things could get better. By being a little more human. Yes. It could start there. Everything works at this point.
And if wanting to do the right thing, acknowledging our shortcomings, and sincerely wanting things to change makes me the black sheep, so be it. bleat! I want to rediscover the fear. I want advertising to be glorious again. I want love back.
-Nikhil Narayanan is the former senior creative director of Ogilvy. The opinions expressed are personal.
(Edited by : Priyanka Deshpande)
First post: STI