Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oh Sheet!

This story of my life everyday at the office.

Typically I walk into office with a few brief sheets tucked in my backpocket and a muddle of ideas in my mind. Most of you would know that every day is a challenge in advertising. Everyday a new brief and the demand for a new idea.

This is the story about the A4 vs. Me.

The white, innocent looking, blank, A4 sheet, which challenges me, everyday to give it my best shot.

Until the day I realized, that it wasn’t really the A4 vs Me.

It was the A4 and me.

Monday Morning 11:10 am

A4: Hey Aleem, Good morning! How you doing?

Me: I'm great. How you doing? What’s wrong? You don't look to good!

A4: Yeah, not a great start. Got stuck in a jam this morning. Traffic you see.
Someone shot a document this morning to print. And we had a deadlock in the printer. Tried to swerve around, but got a dent and a few scratches from the bloody cartridge. And of course we guys don't have insurance to claim, and damage control too can’t do much to restore.

Me: Oh Damn! That's not good buddy. Can I help?

A4: Help? You kidding? I'm feeling totally useless bro!
I'm not going to make it like my “batch” mates anymore.
I won't be part of the elite documents that will get signed by a shining Mont Blanc pen.
I won't be one of those pristine guys who will close the big deals.
I won't be the one sitting in a boardroom, or even appear in front of the media.

Me: Hey, alls not lost yet; at least you’re not in the bin. Haha. There's still hope for you. C’mon bounce back.

A4: Easier said than done bro! What would you do if you were in my place?

Me: Ok, I'm not in your place. But I'm in my own. I can probably pull you up and give you a whole new meaning.

A4: Okay! And how are you going to do that Mother Teresa!

Me: Well, how about you help me with this brief I got to crack today?
Maybe we together, ideate a real big one!

A4: You mean to say... That you'll choose me to help you with this brand!

Me: No, I mean to say, let's do it together. Just you and me vs. The Brief!

A4: But are you sure, I can do it? I mean the Brief, is kind of intimidating, isn't he? I've heard he's quite a tough guy to understand, forget getting along and working with!

Me: Oh! C’mon you couldn’t be suffering from the grief of the brief.
You’re better than that. I’m sure you can crack the code. That's what we are here for buddy! You game?

A4: Yeah Sure! I guess... so what’s the task?

Me: Pretty simple. We need to get cracking for a USB Storage brand, a pen drive whatever you call it.

A4: So where do we start? Let’s Google and see what we can find.

Me: Google??? No buddy, that’s not my style. We will bump into something that’s done already. Let’s start from scratch. Let’s read the brief in detail first. Here he is…

A4: Hey! Is that him? I know this guy. He was in the same batch as I was. I can handle him Aleem. Positive!

Me: That’s a start. Great. So this is what he reads like. But remember what they say is not always what they mean. Sometimes the answer is right below your nose. You just need to dig the right insight.

A4: Ok, so here is what’s below your nose, then pen. What’s coming to your mind?

Me: Let’s start with the Nostalgia route, the first way to approach an idea maybe, a memory you have, some incident where you wished you had a pen drive.
OK! I’m getting it! I’m getting it! We can show a visual of kids playing in a park, or on a horse and a line that says...
"Childhood memories now in safe hands!"

A4: Good for a start! But I’m sure you can do better!

Me: OK, if not Nostalgia, how about some facts and figures.

A4: Go through the brief again. Maybe we can get something.

Me: It says, it comes in various capacities from 1GB to 8GB. How about...
“Every byte is precious!”

A4: Why are you limiting yourself to photos and memories? I guess you can save data, important files, music, movies so much in them, isn’t it?

Me: Yes, you can. Idea!!! Let’s take a brand Ambassador. Some musician, or how about a producer, or director. Someone who’s data is very important.

A4: But do they have the budgets?

Me: The brief says “Keep it minimal”, which rules that route, because the celebrity will take a huge bit of the costs. Damn!

A4: But it was a good idea, buddy! I mean someone like Farhan Akhtar or alike would do good, he’s would be perfect for something like this.

Me: Are you making fun of me kiddo? Let’s move on. It’s getting to lunch time.

A4: Take me along. Take me along! What if you get an idea while eating!

Me: Aargghh! This sheet of paper! Won’t let me eat in peace!

A4: ... or piss in peace! Haha

Monday Noon 3:25 pm

Me: Damn I need some tea! I just can’t crack this idea!

A4: What are you scribbling? And who are these people you drawing on this page?

Me: I was trying to see if I could do something emotional, but we’ve tried that route, so then I thought about a visually arresting idea.

A4: This looks like nothing! I hope you aren't yet stuck on that brand ambassador idea...

Me: I have a idea, something close to the previous one.
How about we show a cartoon illustration of lots of celebrities like musicians, actors, businessmen, writers, all of them jam packed in a Mumbai local train and a line that goes like...

“All your entertainment, all together!”

A4: Hey sounds good! Highlight it...  Now we are getting somewhere. But you know what, it’s still not Bang on! What if we get legal issue and things...

Monday Evening 6:30 pm

A4: What have we got?

Me: I don’t know. Some rough thoughts.  Was think something huge, going inside something small. Like a huge ship...getting ready to go inside a small tunnel and a line like
“Everything fits in”

A4: Dooonnnneeeee! I’ve seen something like that. Sandisk I think. Yes Sandisk it is...check it out.

Me: Yes. True. Very similar! Got to try harder dude!

A4: You said “The idea would be under your nose” and it doesn’t seem like that...

Me: Yeah, and the only thing that under my nose right now, is this pen, which is basically doing nothing!

A4: And they say, a pen is mightier than a sword! Haha

Me: Hey! Hey! Hey! How about......you said a pen is mightier than a sword right...

A4: Yeah so!

Me: Lets tweak that a little bit and say...

"A pen drive...is mightier than the sword!"

A4: Viola!!! Wow! That’s cool! Great stuff. What’s the visual?

Me: Visual? I guess it doesn’t need one. Just a headline.

A4: Are we sorted?

Me: I guess, let’s get the layout done and post it to the client!

A4: Wow! So that’s it? Is it done? So now I’m of no use?

Me: No buddy, that’s not it. You will be stored in my safe drawer, amongst my other ideas because you are not an ordinary sheet of paper any more.

You’ve made it big and powerful.

You are now the originator of the big idea.

When I look back at life, you will be a treasured memory, just like your batch mates, who will do something good, and then stored. 

The only difference between them and you is, you didn’t just stand in front of a printer and blindly get tattooed, you cracked an idea, and gave yourself  an identity... and I promise you there will be a lot like you joining you soon in that little place I call “drawer of fame”



  1. Hey buddy. You write really well... Good stuff....

  2. something everyone go through... good one :)