Sourav Roy [seeker]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
The book I read first was most probably a book of Bengali nonsense rhymes. It was many, many, many years back so I am not very sure. The first English book I read was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Given my very young age, it was not a very pleasant experience. I was thoroughly confounded by all the fuss being made about marriage.
I have to thank my schoolteachers for that. Our Bengali teacher used to make us write poems on given themes and our English teacher used to give us really, really weird subjects to write essays about (e.g. 'Your bedroom window').
My whole class actually. Each of us had to stand up and read our finished pieces. No mercy was shown by the teacher.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My favourite genre is science fiction (fantasy not so much). You can read my assorted writing at the hyperlink below.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Itís mostly driven by fear and guilt. I panic that I will never finish it on time or write something really shitty or both. I potter around, I do unnecessary research and then finally kick myself in the ass (figuratively, of course), sit down and do it.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Language that is very simple that takes to an utterly complex and fascinating world.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
The plot and the characters. If one is great you donít need the other.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Third. First person is too close for comfort.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Ray Bradbury, J K Rowling, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Guy De Maupassant, Anton Chekov.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
At least a part of it has to be based on someone you know.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
So I am told. But can you trust anybody these days?
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Me, of course.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
So it is. They always are. I write my worst when I am happy. Or worse, I donít write at all.
Does reader feed-back help you?
As they say, everyone has an asshole and an opinion. I seek feedback only from people who themselves are much better writers than me and has compassion and objectivity in equal parts.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I do. But none yet. Wish me luck.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Already answered in the previous to previous question.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
No I have not. I think I have not written enough yet to get there.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I have never missed a deadline in my job (I am an advertising copywriter). I remind that fact to myself and shame my lazyass self into keeping the same standards for my writing.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
As little as possible.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a computer and printing and correcting on paper kinda beats the purpose, donít you think? I go back to it after a couple of days to edit, when the excitement has died down and the small, criticizing voice is back in my head.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
Information: Wikipedia, Shelfari.
Sharing experiences: Twitter.
What has been your experience with publishers?
So far I have approached only magazines and websites to publish my writing and has been successful most of the times. Havenít tried publishing a book yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.
What are you working on now?
A collection of flash fictions called: One Upon A Time They Happily Lived Ever After. The very short stories (ranging from 6 to 100 words) are based on found images on the internet or random thoughts during my commute.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Mail them to me. I am told that I am a good editor. Perhaps better at it than writing.
What is your specialty: creativity, contact, or research?
Creativity only as per my job description.But I love to do my own research.
Please list some brand names or clients that you have worked for.
Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces
Tata Mutual Fund
ABN AMRO Asset Management
Time Out Magazine
White & Mackay
Max New York Life
Have you got a blog or web page?
What do your clients value more, strategy, creativity, design, or return of investment?
The good ones (unfortunately very rare) value all of them equally.
The mediocre ones (quite a lot) value strategy the most and design after that.
And the bad ones (the majority) don't know which means what so they value their own opinion the most.
The word 'creativity' is much-used in advertising, yet most commercials are annoying, why is that?
Mostly because the advertising agencies rarely have conviction enough to sell good creative and instead succumb to client's bullying.
And sometimes because the advertising agency has become lazy and has not worked hard enough on the brief.
Can a bad advertising campaign sell well?
If an advertising campaign is selling well, by definition you canít call it Ďbadí. Itís doing its job well. There must be at least something right about it.
But if you are talking on a hypothetical basis, no one has ever willingly created a bad campaign on an experimental basis to check whether it can sell well. So I canít answer that.
But itís high time someone did. That will put an end to the belief that loud, clichťd, hard-selling adverts always work.
Which advertising agencies and directors seem the best to you at this moment?
I am in a position to comment only about India. Though I regularly see foreign adverts, I donít know enough about the men behind them.
Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai
Leo Burnett, Mumbai
Euro RSCG, New Delhi
Bates 141, Kolkata
Directors: (I think you mean Ad Film Directors)
Ram Madhvani, Equinox Films
Ramesh & Abhinay Deo, Nirvana Films
Prasoon Pandey, Corcoise Films
How do you respond to the classic quote, "I love the idea, but right now's not the time"?
ďPlease tell me why.Ē The most difficult and the most dreaded question.
What brings you the most satisfaction: when your advert pleases your boss, your client, your friends, or your mother?
None of the above. When it pleases me. The rest are just bonus.
How do you see the transition between traditional advertising and online advertising?
First of all, the labels on different kinds of advertising are only for academic purposes. As far as we creative people are concerned, advertising is reaching out to the consumer wherever they are. As more and more people are going online and are in a more receptive state of mind than they are offline, the share of online advertising is increasing, though not rapidly enough.
The clients still want to do online advertising when they donít have budget for anything else. They are under the illusion that creating good online advertising needs less money.
Are people in advertising paid too much?
Hush! They can hear you. On a more serious note, considering the stress levels and the hours they have to keep, no.
Is advertising merely spam?
Bad advertising is. Good advertising is part of the popular culture.
Have you ever felt cheated by adverts?
Never fell for anything sneaky. Thatís one of the perks of working in the industry. You can always sniff out the liars.
What is your favourite thing about working in advertising and what is your least favourite?
Favourite: Getting to know about and work on so many diverse things.
Least favourite: Depending on so many others to bring your idea to life.
Do advertising festivals help to improve the industry, or are they only ways for the elite to pay homage to themselves?
Of course it improves the industry. Does anyone blame fashion shows because the clothes they showcase cant be worn daily? Or the auto shows because the concept cars are not yet commercially viable? The advertising festivals are there to show us our road to the future by stretching the boundary of whatís possible.
When you select an intern to work, what quality do you deem the most valuable?
Interest in the world around them.
Brand names as generators of content hardly ever have success: is the online world different in this sense?
I completely disagree with this assumption. Is Stephen King a failure? Or is he not a brand? Is Spielberg a failure? Or does he not generate content?
Youtube generates content from millions of people across the planet. You want to call it a failure?
Does the public buy the product or the product image?
Always the image.
Has your experience in qualitative research served in helping you discover new pathways or, more often than not, to kill good ideas?
Qualitative research is the best friend of the creative, unlike its quantitative cousin.
IMPACT! Is this the main scale for judging the work of an advertising professional?
Sure. Be it on emotions or sales.
What are the main mistakes clients make in judging creativity?
Overestimating their own intelligence and underestimating the consumerís.
Is it possible for someone in advertising to communicate well with people of other generations or cultures not their own?
Any time. Good advertising is based on basic human truths, which are the same across the world and across the ages. If we can talk to them face to face or over the phone and get ourselves understood, why canít we talk to them through billboards?
In advertising, what is most effective, frequency or surprise?
Surprise! Surprise! Itís surprise.
Is a political candidate the same as a product?
He / She is a brand, not a product.
How do you explain the way in which some brands have been able to expand so widely and rapidly without advertising? Are the laws of marketing changing?
Advertising is not done only through TV, radio, billboard, internet or in the streets. Word of mouth is the strongest medium for advertising. All the brands you are talking about have done exceptionally well in that department, because they are genuinely good.
What advice would give to someone who wants to join the ranks of advertising?
Unless you are really obsessed about it, donít. Itís a bitch.