It’s-never-too-late sort of Happy New Year to you!
Some years back, seven or eight years, one client of the agency I was working with at that time woke up on one fine morning of the second week of January, and with some shock and horror, realised that he had not yet thought of printing a new calendar for his company. “Don’t worry! It’s not too late,” he was told, a little later in that morning, when his frantic call was answered by the agency executive. A few hours later, around 11 in the morning, I was greeted, as usual, with an ‘It’s urgent! We’ve to print and deliver it by tomorrow evening’, as I walked in to the office.
“What’s it?” I greeted the executive back, as usual again.
“ A calendar. Since we have no time, just three options will do.” Came the reply.
“Why just three? We have about a year in our hands!” I was trying my best to pretend that I still haven’t learnt how agencies work. Needless to add, I didn’t succeed at it.
A few more hours later, after a good time talking with colleagues about almost everything except a calendar over many coffees and cigarettes, the executive was informed that three options would be impossible by evening, but surely two could be delivered. The executive pretended disappointment, as that was the practice. Ask for more so that what you get wouldn’t be too less.
“The concepts are already ready. And very unique” I informed him.
“Yes. Not unique, as usual. But truly unique. Unique as in U.N.I.Q.U.E.” I could see him smelling a fish, as I announced that.
“It will have dates on it? I want all the months and all the dates on it!”
“It sure does. We don’t have enough time to shoot a pin-up calendar without dates!”
“Are you going to suggest me to buy already printed calendars and stick our client’s logo on it?” The executive had started to think creative, as he usually do when he turns to be too sceptical.
“That’s a brilliant! I never thought of it! We can keep that as the third option.” I was sincerely thrilled at the idea.
“What are your two U.N.I.Q.U.E. concepts then?” He asked, while preparing his best for the worst to come.
“A calendar that starts its dates on 21st of March, and one that starts on 1st of April”
“A zodiac year calendar. Or, a financial year calendar. Our client can take his pick. And now you have figured out a third option too. In case…”
“I told you. These are U.N.I.Q.U.E. concepts, worth to win a few awards” I beamed. I never knew these kind of calendars existed. Neither did anyone in my office or the client’s.
The conversation ended at that. The assignment was approved and eventually dropped by the client, who later realised that he can do business without a calendar of his own. And he also knew a calendar of his own wouldn’t have helped his business anyway. At least, for that year.
I had almost forgotten about this incident. Every working day in medium size advertising agencies having clients with no big budgets and/or stupid Communication Managers, is filled with such. What they say is true. Advertising is indeed fun. I remembered about this conversation, when, I was staring at this year’s calendar that sits right in front of me. I had just turned its first leaf; the dates on it starts on December 22nd.
Another reason that prompted me to write this piece was reading my friend JM’s once-upon-a-time-an-excellent blog. “One thing I don't want to do is tell more lies to myself,” he has written. If you can count that as a resolution, it’s a very brave one. If one is honest about it, that is. The allusions about truth can be pretty tricky. For anyone. Everyone that I know of, who went searching for it ended up finding a void, namely God and its derivatives. The end seldom justifies the means. And there are people, who stop before the first rock that blocks their way.
If you are one who’s been told many times that you should take praise and criticism in the same vain, I’ll offer you my two-paisa wisdom to it. You were told very wrong. What you believed, if you had believed, is the perfect recipe for vegetation, not one that develops intellectual and emotional maturity. Laugh whenever you can, and cry when it’s must.
I could have written about something else. About the new racism raw between Indian and Australian cricket teams. Or about Tata’s new car, and why I’m ashamed of that mass exploitation, which is hailed as the greatest success of the New Indian. Or about the finest bike ride I had so far, and why that made me feel guilty. Or about the biggest joke of recent years – the new Reliance IPO. Instead, I would wish you a very happy New Year ahead. It’s at least, a lot easier. Let me add few more words about the New Year wish. It’s not going to be happy, even if billions sincerely wish so. Before calling me negative, pessimistic, cynical, or anything more, remember the fact that the year just passed on wasn’t very happy either and you were fine with it. The last day of December and the first day of January have never been too far. And things might change overnight, just might.