The Multi Nationals, whose retainers had once fostered some of the most talented agencies in Kolkata have long gone. Entities that claim to have filled the void left by them, have not lived up to either their exacting standards or their willingness to reward creative work. Naturally, advertising as one understood it, is as dead as Marley was. Like a door-nail. Sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity, in search of work that is Sasta, Sundar and Tikao.
The fallout has been on predictable lines. Clients write their own copy are numerous, DTP operators who have become Art Directors are a dime a dozen and the haggle for the rate per square cm is more intense than the message, which perhaps is what was bound to happen. And now, with the migration to the digital realm, where even one man with a machine can create communication material, even this seems threatened. Evolution, after all, is a great leveler.
However, in this desert land there is an Azure patch. And when one overcomes the initial disbelief and the obvious fear of being waylaid by a mirage, its creative ripples are found to be as soothing as the shade of its palm trees of bang-on solutions. The Agency is Azure Communication – a bespoke maker of dream dusts, owned by Anup Agarwalla who is a queer mix of old-school lyric-led sensibilities and new age techno tunes.
Azure doesn’t work without an advance. It doesn’t work on anything other than the Macs that are its MBT’s. They don’t lift image and copy to pass it all off as “inspiration” when caught. They don’t even focus on the release, preferring the client and the media houses to sort things out. They just sit there, rake their brains and let their creativity do the screaming. Sounds contrived, but then again, Azure is one of the few agencies that has not had an employee rationalization exercise (hint pink slips, golden handshakes) in the ten years since its being. And when they say that all payments are dot on time, their suppliers vouch for them.
Anup Agarwalla refuses to be drawn into controversies noncommittal about either the competition or the state of the industry. But he is less on his guard when talking about the basic rules that he and the mavericks of his agency follow, the secret recipe that help them prepare their Shahi dish of success.
“It is wrong to believe that you can target everyone with your communication. The idea is to try to reach the maximum at the most rational price points” he says. Note the stress on rational, as opposed to cheap. Like they say, in one fell swoop, the distinguishing factor has been established.
“The same is true with empathy” he continues “you cannot emphathise with everything and everybody. You have to be choosy about your target. Always remember two things: that your ad is as good as the message it conveys and the real beauty of the message is in the eye of the beholder”.
“Another rule that we follow strictly is about not going overboard in search of the ever-elusive X-factor of creativity. Nobody has dictated that ads must be witty, or creative even. They need not, as long as they serve the purpose. At the end of the day it is about the client’s bottom line, not your or the agency’s ego”.
“And finally, it is my firm belief that every ad must tell the viewer what to do. What good is brilliant copy and stunning images if they fail to communicate the message, however subtly? If you don’t tell the reader or the viewer what to do, goad him or her into action, then the whole purpose of the exercise is lost”.
So, what is Anup Agarwalla’s message to his clients?
A smile breaks out on the Azure skies. “Early to bed, early to rise, work like Hell and Advertise”!
I don’t know about the bed part, but Anup sure looks and sounds convincing, when he says, he’s there (read Azure Communication) to take care of the advertising part.
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So enlightening and thought provoking !