This is part three and was first published on December 2nd, 2005 while I was living in San Francisco.
You’d think that the coolest thing that could happen to you in the world would be to come into work whenever in the morning as long you managed to saunter in by 11ish, have lunch that was sent over from the HQ canteen, brought by the lunchboxwalla who would then proceed to serve us on china plates with silverware while tracking our accounts for our monthly bill on payday. Then leave around 3.30pm if you didn’t go drinking to the nearest pub instead or open the bottle that Piush would keep in his bottom drawer. And get paid for it. You’d think it was cool but it wasn’t.
After the events in part one and part two, morale spiked certainly, and the six of us would come into work everyday and play cards and tell tall tales, and one guy, he was an expert at extemporaneous classical urdu shairi (poetry) except his were always vaguely filthy parodies that kept us in tears.
As the first week passed, and both Rajat and Sohrab had made visits to the office to tell us to keep the old upper lip stiff, chin chin and all that rot, men, hold on for just another week while we stratergerize your future, you have no clients, we just took over the agency, um yes well, had a nice lunch?
And by the end of the second week, I’d interviewed at Hope Computers, the India VAR for Autodesk in marketing while the rest of the boys were working frantically on their resumes. I must proudly say that Manoj Sharma’s was my first success in positioning someone else’s skills in the marketplace, within months he was a Marketing Executive at Bharat Shell in Bombay.
Hope made me an offer of a 30% increase in salary and I had just received the formal letter and contract when Rajat Sethi arrived to take over as the Head of Result:McCann, India. He’d never worked in direct marketing before but we knew our jobs and worked with him, what he did know was behemoth style brand building, which was something I hadn’t been exposed to until then. Our first project, which took ALL six of us to execute because nobody wanted to be left out of our first project/work after almost a month of idleness. Besides, it was fun. Levi-Strauss had just entered India and needed launch activities executed in New Delhi. Additionally, now that we were officially employed by McCann Erickson Worldwide our salaries were rationalized, perhaps a teeny bit in dollars, but my pay was increased by 94% and promoted to Sr. Project Manager. And for the most part reporting directly to Rajat, and Sohrab for a particularly unique internal project.
First, the Levi project – terrible, really – we had to work till all hours coordinating 501 sponsored dance competitions in the local clubs. Then there was a concert and fashion show. Vehrnon Ibrahim had been flown in from Bangalore to sing his Rush lyrics and Led Zep song and be the DJ. Dude, wtf are you these days? He was lead singer for the band that opened for Deep Purple in India. I was the first person ever to get his autograph.
When McCann moved us out to a better office (it looked like a brothel to be honest, it had been a leather showroom and we didn’t rip out the mirrored walls and glass details when we remodelled) and provided us with our first multimedia computer (1995) I was immediately entranced with the possibilities.
I managed to convince Sohrab to invest Rs 15,000 on a corporate sponsored project that would allow me demonstrate in an upcoming All India meeting of McCann management how the PC could take over the need for lugging A/V equipment up the wazoo to pitches. We could turn everything from TV clips to radio commercials to print advertising into one presentation.
Sounds very ho hum doesn’t it?
Well we were the first in India to adopt that in the advertising industry to my knowledge, if anyone else has an older story I’d love to hear it as well :)
My opening screen was Sohrab’s head shot ( he was CEO, McCann Erickson India at that time) with the only .wav file I could find that went smarmily, “Hello, darling”. The audience roared and every client servicing department got their own high tech workstations instead of just the creatives.
Sometimes, when you work against so many resource constraints, that it feels like you’re either re-inventing the wheel each time, or making do with the equipment you’ve got to emulate the cool stuff out there in the developed world.
Could that be the root of my mangled paraphrasing, if necessity is the mother of invention, is prosperity the father of innovation?