Thursday, November 29, 2007

Satan Santa

Such cool, wintry mornings these are, na. So Christmassy. Takes you back to school days. This was the time we’d all practise carols. Oh how I loved the carol practice. Especially because we got to skip class for it! And then the final programme the day before the Christmas vacation began. Every year was the same. The ‘Birth of Jesus’ play, carol singing, and finally the Santa act. Somebody dressed as Santa throwing candy to the audience, and all of us scampering after them.
While I take this trip down memory lane, I drag the beloved into the conversation. “Honey, you remember Christmas time back in school days? Did you have a Santa too? Throwing candy and all?”
“Yeah sure” he says, continuing to shave. Without batting a fixed-on-the-mirror eyelid, he adds, “Our Santa carried a stick.”
“You’re confusing him with someone else, dearest.” I tell him. “Santa’s the kind-hearted, pot-bellied gent who goes around giving goodies for free.”
“I know,” he says, all attention fixed on a sideburn, “he carried a bag full of candy in one hand and a stick in the other.”
“Whatever for?”
“To beat the children with.”
“To WHAT?”
A big grin on his after-shaved face, he goes on, “Can’t blame him though.”
“See, it’s like this. Our school always had a peon dressed as Santa. And the kids knew that. So every time the Santa act began, the kids would mob him and try to pull at his robe and mask. They wanted to see if it’s Shivajirao or Prakash. Eventually the peons started carrying sticks, which was the only way to ensure the act reached an uneventful end!”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Every ad professional has two lives. The other one being that of a superhuman who can save the masses from the vice-like grip of a mundane life. Bringing them confidence, energy, panache and what-nots.
I had started from a modest, middle class home in Andheri, and taken the train to ‘Swarg lok’. Come, come, girl – my creative director told me. Let’s sprinkle some happiness in the commonplace lives of these humans. Let’s get them a life, even if it’s just on the idiot box.
So here I was chin up, chest out, red cape billowing behind me. On my mission to spread joy. Meaning I was ready to sell toothpaste.
Here I am in conversation with the account director.

Me: So, we gotta sell toothpaste, right?
AD: No, no, of course not.
Me: I’ve been transferred to another brand?
AD: No chance. You’re still working on the toothpaste. But that’s not what we’re selling.
ME: No?
AD: Rolls eyes heavenwards. Stupid, you think we’d need you if we just wanted to sell toothpaste?
Me: So what do you need me for?
AD: To sell dreams.
ME: Dreams?
AD: Dreams. Aspirations.
ME: Not toothpaste?
AD: Moron. You just don’t get it. Why would anyone buy our toothpaste?
Me: To brush teeth with?
AD: (Icy glare) No.
Me: No?
AD: Arre baba, why would they buy OUR toothpaste?
That got me. Silence.
AD: We gotta promise them something, dig?
Me: Dig.
AD: Now, what can we promise them?
Me: (Eyes light up like a hoarding at night) Confidence?
AD: Sheesh! Every toothpaste gives you that. Every PRODUCT gives you that. Can’t we give them anything better?
Me: More fluoride?
AD: NO. Now stop goofing and listen up. We gotta give this consumer something more than he already has okay. You BLOODY well think of something to give him, or I shall kill you with my bare hands.
Me: But doesn’t the consumer want just toothpaste?
AD: (The who-gave-you-this-job look) Look, you gonna do this or not?
Me: (Beads of perspiration) Er, sure, sure. So we give them something. Sure. How about the ability to attract the opposite sex?
AD: No. That’s done before.
Me: Freshness all day?
AD: That too.
Me: Strong gums?
AD: Too late. Done already.
Me: (Sly smile) Wings?
AD: No. Red Bull gives you those.
Me: Sigh! Okay. How bout this? It gives you brains? Intelligence?