Work with pleasure, always

That’s what my boss Murli Manohar Swarup taught me… on how to find the elusive Anand (bliss) in work.

Jameel Gulrays

I lost my mother in 1969, 12 years after my father’s demise. I was all alone in this world with two young brothers. To fend for myself and my siblings, I had joined my father Abid Gulrays’ friend Ayaz Peerbhoy’s Marketing Advertising Associates Pvt. Ltd. while pursuing my studies.
I was working with Murli Manohar Swarup for the Indian languages copy and radio department. Simultaneously, I was also working with the media department as an assistant to M.A. Khan.
On March 12, 1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Rajesh Khanna-Amitabh Bachchan starrer Anand had released. I was, and still am, a movie buff, so I had to watch the film on the first day itself, if not the first day, first show.
That evening, I had booked my ticket for the evening show at Regal and had planned to scoot after calling it a day at work. The theatre was across the road, and the show was to start at 6.15 pm.
Just when I was about to leave office, my boss Murli Manohar Swarup walked up to me and said, “Today, I have got a sudden engagement. Sanforized Ke Mehman’s next episode is scheduled to be recorded at 7.30 pm. Jameel, you will have to go to HMV studio to supervise the recording.”
I replied, “But Sir, I have booked my ticket for the evening show, and I am going to watch Anand.” He was pretty curt in his response. “Either watch a movie or build your career. I leave it to you,” and walked away in a huff, leaving me in a fix. No doubt, I had a difficult choice to make, and quickly because it was already 6 pm. The Hamletian dilemma got the better of me. Whether to be at the Regal theatre or the HMV recording studio was a tough call.

The iconic movie celebrated its 5oth anniversary in March 2021.

I was visibly upset with the sudden change of plan because I felt it was unfair on my boss’ part to assign work, and that too, after office hours. But Mr Swarup was my boss, and come what may, and I had to abide by his impromptu order. I didn’t want to miss my movie, but Mr Swarup’s words were echoing in my ears, loud and clear. “Either watch that movie or build your career.” Finally, I tore my movie ticket and went on to supervise the recording.
I learned to give precedence to business and not mix it with pleasure, but instead work with pleasure.
Such is life and its invaluable lessons. 😊
And to date, work alone gives me Anand (joy), quite literally.

Copywriting is all about being word wise

In February 1977, I met K. Kurian, founder and chairman of Radeus Advertising, for the first time. He was interviewing me for the post of Hindi copywriter in the agency. 

He said, “Before I ask you any question, I want you to look at our existing Hindi advertisements and give your comments”. 

Then he called for all his clients’ guard books. I don’t think today’s advertising professionals would know what guard books are. A guard book is an advertising agency’s internal archive of work done for a particular client. 

First, the guard book was for Firestone Tyres

In the first ad, in its first two sentences itself, I could spot errors. I asked him, “May I please get a pencil, Mr Kurian?”

He was amused and wondered, and rightly so. “Why do would need a pencil?” was his question. 

I replied, “To mark spelling errors, first.”

Mr Kurian shot back, “You mean to say our published ads have spelling errors?” 

Well, yes, they had. But he was gracious enough not to get offended, and that’s how I bagged my copywriting job at Radeus.  

Today, spelling errors ain’t a great deal because “sab chalta hai dude.” 😀😀😀

I wish if I could…

I have a wish to make at least 4 more good advertising professionals before I leave this world. I have been a teacher and would love to pass on whatever little I know to a few eager-to-learn bunch of advertising newbies. It will be a small group so that I can respond to queries, and give individual attention. The takeaway would be an opportunity to learn the nuances of media planning.
Unfortunately, today most of the advertising agencies are owned by “Foreigners” who have made every employee, including CEOs to earn “Profits” for them. With the account type individuals, training, professional development has taken a back seat.
Even professional associations, etc., too have mediocre people at the helm of affairs. If any one is offended with my remark, I invite them to debate with me on a public forum.
Looking at the situation, I’ve now decided to conduct my Creative Workshop for students, once again.
Would you want to join?

Advertising: Believe it or not?

In this age of skepticism, cleverness for the sake of cleverness will be a liability rather than an asset.
Consumers do not appreciate, cleverness for the sake of cleverness in any of the promotional message. Their reactions to our promotional messages have been:
A. I don’t trust you. Why should I ?
B. I am surprised when something I buy actually performs the way it was advertise to perform.
C. Others make the same claim you do; most of you lying.

Remembering RK Swamy

I recall my days with the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) when Larry Grant, Govind Sajnani, Bahadur Merwan, Gopi Kukde, and I conducted “creative workshops” in Mumbai.
I conducted 52, 3-months workshops at a stretch without any break. I am sure it was some record, but I never bothered to run after records. AAAI also published my advertising book in Hindi; the book being the first one on this subject in Hindi. That, too, was a record, but neither AAAI nor I claimed the record. We with AAAI also compiled the first-ever manual for Creative Planning, Media Planning, Film Production, PR Planning & Print Production. Today, AAAI doesn’t seem to take any pride in these firsts which they pioneered. All these activities were started when the great R K Swamy was the president of AAAI. He earnestly believed in training and professional development for our profession. Mr R K Swamy, you are being sorely missed.

(Photo sourced from RK Swamy BBDO Pvt. Ltd.)

‘विज्ञापन व्यवसाय कला के इंद्रधनुषी रंगों से सजा विज्ञान है’

अपने पचास वर्षों के अनुभव के आधार पर विश्वास से कह सकता हूँ कि भारत में या फिर शायद सारे संसार में विज्ञापन व्यवसाय से जुड़े लोगों की एक जटिल समस्या है और वो है, इस दुनिया में हर व्यक्ति के दो व्यवसाय होना।

जी हाँ, हर व्यक्ति के दो व्यवसाय होते हैं, एक वो, जिससे वो व्यक्ति जुड़ा है, और दूसरा होता है विज्ञापन व्यवसाय। हर व्यक्ति समझता है कि वो विज्ञापन बना सकता है। उसका मानना है कि विज्ञापन आख़िर होता क्या है — सिवाए एक तस्वीर और एक नारे के। तस्वीर खोज लो। एक अच्छा, बुरा या ऊट पटाँग नारा लिख लो, बस, विज्ञापन तैयार है। तभी तो वो विज्ञापन अभियान जिसे विज्ञापन अजेंसियाँ महीनों की मेहनत के बाद तैयार करती हैं, उन्हें उत्पादक स्वयं या उनकी पत्नियाँ या फिर उनके कर्मचारी मिनटों में तहस नहस कर देते हैं।

जो लोग विज्ञापन व्यवसाय से जुड़े हैं और सही मायनों में व्यवसायिक हैं, जानते हैं कि एक नारा और एक तस्वीर तय करने में कितनी छान-बीन करनी पड़ती है। जिस उत्पादन का विज्ञापन करना होता है, उसके बारे में लगभग सब कुछ जानना और समझना पड़ता है। क्यूँकि विज्ञापन व्यवसाय कला भी है और विज्ञान भी, ये कहना भी ग़लत नहीं होगा कि विज्ञापन व्यवसाय कला के इंद्रधनुषी रंगों से सजा विज्ञान है, जहां तर्क भी खोजने पड़ते हैं और उन्हें कला के रंगों से सजाना संवारना भी पड़ता है। 

हर अच्छा विज्ञापन उपभोक्ता तक पहुँचने से पहले विज्ञापन एजेन्सी में तीन मुख्य चरणों से गुजरता है। पहले चरण में इस बात का फ़ैसला किया जाता है कि क्या कहना है जबकि दूसरे और तीसरे चरण में ये तय किया जाता है कि कैसे कहना है और कहाँ कहना है।

पहले चरण में, यानी क्या कहना है, में जिस उत्पाद का विज्ञापन करना है उसके गुणों और कमज़ोरियों का उसी समान या उसके प्रतिस्पर्धी की तुलना में अध्ययन किया जाता है और ये मालूम करने की कोशिश की जाती है कि वे कौन से गुण हैं जिनका उल्लेख प्रतिस्पर्धी ब्रांड अपने विज्ञापनों में नहीं कर रहे हैं।

उत्पादक के तौर पर, लिम्का से पहले और अब फिर शीतल पेयों के विज्ञापनों में रंगारंग तस्वीरें का बड़े पैमाने पर इस्तेमाल होता है। जब हम लिम्का पर काम करते थे तब हम जान बूझ कर तस्वीरों की जगह इलसटरे्शन का इस्तेमाल किया। उस समय, प्रिंट, सबसे बड़ा माध्यम हुआ करता था। इसके इलावा सारे शीतल पेय रंग जामने की बात किया करते थे। उस समय लिम्का सारे अभियान का आधार प्यास था. हमारा मानना था कि शीतल पेयों का पहला काम होता है, प्यास बुझाना और ज़्यादातर उपभोक्ता प्यास बुझाने के लिए ही पेय ख़रीदते हैं। 

इसी को आधार बना कर, विज्ञापन अभियान बना गया था। 

इस चरण में क्या कहना है का फ़ैसला होता है। 

कैसे कहना है और कहाँ कहना है, दोनों चरण पर साथ-साथ काम होता है क्यूँकि इस बात का फ़ैसला कर लेने के बाद किस प्रकार के उपभोक्ताओं से बात करनी है, ये फ़ैसला करना होता है कि उनसे कहाँ बात करनी है? टी वी पर, रेडीओ पर, डिजिटल मीडिया में या प्रिंट मीडिया द्वारा? 

मान लीजिए कि हम आफ्टर शेव लोशन पर काम कर रहे हैं और सर्वेक्षण द्वारा मालूम होता है कि क़स्बों में रहने वाले रईस किसानों में आफ्टर शेव लोशन ख़रीदने की सम्भावना अधिक है। उस स्तिथि में पत्र-पत्रिकाओं की जगह टी वी और डिजिटल मीडिया बेहतर विकल्प होंगे। 

इस बात का फ़ैसला हो जाने पर उन माध्यमों के लिए उपयुक्त विज्ञापन अभियान तैयार करने की प्रक्रिया शुरू हो जाती है। 

मिसाल के तौर पर आयोडेक्स द्वारा ये तय कर लेने के बाद कि उपभोक्ताओं से कहना है कि आयोडेक्स दर्द भी दूर करता है और अच्छा भी करता है। तीन शब्दों ‘ऊह, आ, आउच’ का चयन किया गया होगा । यही उनके विज्ञापन अभियान के चिन्ह बन गए।

The Audio Medium

https://www.freepressjournal.in/weekend/from-clubhouse-to-twitter-spaces-audio-platforms-are-offering-a-break-from-video-overdose-amid-the-pandemic

Nostalgia reloaded | My thoughts on Clubhouse in The Free Press Journal

The audio medium has always been music to former adman and Urdu connoisseur Jameel Gulrays’ ears. Having worked extensively in the field of aural communication during his advertising days, he is a firm believer in reading through one’s ears. 

“A voice playing on any device serves as the perfect background to many activities. A listener can interpret a voice visually, just the way they want,” he says, talking about how his six-year-old read-aloud stories’ project Katha Kathan has found a new home on Clubhouse. But unlike the Youtube and SoundCloud uploads, he finds storytelling sessions on Clubhouse more interactive and engaging. 

“Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening. We give these storytelling sessions a feel of the radio play. I also get to speak to the audience, clear their doubts, discuss the story and get their feedback in real-time,” he says.

Gulrays and his Team Kathan perform dramatised readings of the lesser-known stories of Premchand on Saturdays at 10 pm as part of Jashn-e-Premchand and those of Saadat Hasan Manto on Sundays at 10 pm for The Other Side of Manto.  Gulrays’ storytelling sessions on Clubhouse has listeners across the world joining in.

The Other Side of Manto and Jashn-e-Premchand evoke nostalgia, reminding me of the good old days of the popular radio show Hawa Mahal.

An avid attendee from London, who grew up listening to the show on radio during her early years in Bhopal.

There’s a huge uptick in the user base of these platforms because as Gulrays says, “After all, you can truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”  

Public relations advertising

Public relations advertising as a single phrase seems almost a contradiction, certainly a paradox. Not too many years ago, and even today, public relations activities are widely separated from advertising. The debate about whether to build an image or to sell a product through advertising persists.
Building image generally is termed institutional advertising; rarely, public relations advertising.
If one goes the public relations advertising route, perhaps the precept to put high on the list is that it is a mistake to look upon paid time and space as paid editorial material.
It is far better to seize upon a cause, launch a genuine public service.
Public relations advertising is not designed to incite the public to rush out to trade with you.
Companies could take certain topics and pursue them through advertising for the betterment of the public at large.
In the recent past, the campaign to create awareness for Rotavirus is a good example in my opinion.
I would like to see companies promoting:
* youth fitness
* youth opportunity
* help prevent crime
* equal employment opportunity
* aid for higher education
* our Indian heritage
The list is just off the cuff.