Did he say advertising? Maybe he meant 'goopywriting'!

 If you are looking for insight into advertising, turn away now. If you have a low tolerance for PJs, phattas, cheap shots, then kindly avoid. But if, for some strange reason, you, God forbid, wish to be a copywriter, or maybe you are a marketer seeking insight into the junior writer assigned to your brand, then stop right here.

Welcome to Advertising by Omkar Sane is written from the viewpoint of a jr writer. It’s a walkthrough of the whole ad shebang, from briefings, idea storming, ad creation, proofs, to the pitch and after. In the process, Omkar introduces you to the whole zoo — the globe-trotting national creative director, charge-a-bomb freelancers, beery-creative types, clueless planners.

In short, you are exposed to every stereotype, attitude and dyed-in-wool opinion that populates the A) dustbin B) idea churning machine C) beer cask D) cosmic blackhole that sits on the shoulders of The Advertising Goopywriter. Did we say Goopywriter? Oops. We did.

A quick intercut. Wondering why the tone of voice of this review is so college humourish? That’s precisely the tone of Omkar’s book. If it has you barfing in the aisles, the fact is that this impertinent cleverness is actually the tone of voice of most copywriters. It is also the high-tone of great advertising copy, the ones that sweep the awards and leave consumers gnashing their teeth.

All junior copywriters believe NCD’s do no work. Heh, heh goes Omkar. All junior writers believe all creative directors steal ideas. Omkar trumpets the same. Hmm. Odd. The book has seven forewords by seven great creative directors. We know three personally. Gangadharan Menon, my ex-boss, Cyrus Oshidar, ex-colleague, Prahlad Kakkar who made a few of our films. None would steal an idea. All seven are ferociously creative. All generous with their ideas. Does idea stealing happen. Yes. Do idea stealers reach the very peak? Only the odd one does. Illuminating: If ever there is a clash between truth and stereotype as every ad man knows, the stereotype must win. There are lines between humour, caricature and cartooning, Omkar blithely crosses them. But then so must every halfway decent creative ad guy.

What’s a little puzzling about Welcome to Advertising is that it feels a trifle dated. It’s like Omkar is talking about advertising in the mid 80s. The agency is obsessed by press ads. Film’s not mentioned. Neither is buzz marketing, guerrilla advertising, SMS campaigns, web, brand ambassadors, street groups.

Now let’s review the book the way an ad man would. The cover’s wow, got ‘mad comic ishstyle’ graphics which are liberally carried over to section heads. The title flags the right audience with a classic ad headline: First say the obvious ‘Welcome to advertising’ then add the redeeming sting in the tail ‘Now get lost’. There’s great credibility. Seven hotshot creative guys have put their chaappa on it. The text, which every ad man knows only 20 per cent of the audience reads, has a ‘zo-clever’ tone of voice, and is actually readable for bursts of 10 pages at a time. It covers the creative process fairly thoroughly. And what’s more, it only deals with stereotypes. The verdict? Perfect!

 Every goopywriter who lays his hands on Omkar’s book will writhe in agony. “Man what a scam. Why didn’t I do this yaar?” Omkar in his book takes us through the stand-out forms of ads. The no-copy ad, the teaser ad, the loooooong copy ad. But what he doesn’t mention is that the ultimate ad is not an ad. It is a book on advertising. Now that really seals your place in the pantheon.

WELCOME TO
ADVERTISING!
NOW GET LOST
Omkar Sane
Tranquebar, 2009,
pp 230, Rs 395

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