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Ad World Mad World - novel beginning

Updated on September 29, 2007

Walking into the new place made Anand feel like his first day at school. His bones were jelly and his smile was weak. The haughty receptionist’s red lipstick didn’t help things a bit. She waved at him to take a seat, and he sank into the spongy recesses of a nearby sofa. He sat in the hall, mesmerized by those ruddy slashes moving at the speed of sound.

“You may go in now,” she said and he went in.

“Hey, look who’s here! Welcome to advertising!” said his new boss, Mr Verghese.

“Thanks!” said Anand regretting his rash act of switching fields. Publishing didn’t have such types. Publishing, especially children’s books, was a laidback occupation, whereas the ad world was a jumpy one.

“Guess I’ll have to reengineer myself to the field, Sir,” he said.

“Call me Verse, Andy!” Over my dead body, thought the newly christened Andy. Well it could be worse.

It was.

“This is our Creative Department,” announced Verghese, like an emperor throwing open the door to the royal stables. Anand did a triple take. He was introduced to Ashy, male copywriter who looked like a female supermodel, to Vishy, a male designer who looked like nothing on earth, to Indy, female designer who looked like a female designer, and to hordes of lesser beings who were artistic potboys to this lot.

“Andy’s the new illustrator!” boomed Verghese.

“Good, now we have non-photo, non-typo options!” said Ashy, solo ear-ring waggling against shaven head.

“And what’s wrong with typo?” asked Indy giving him a whack on his back.

“Nothing. And everything.”

“Leave you lot to the typo discussion,” said Verghese, “I’m taking Andy to meet the rest of the gang.”

“But, Goosy, where’s he going to sit?” asked Vishy, “Next to my table, hopefully?”

Goosy? “We called him ‘Geese’ at first, but we didn’t want to poke too much fun at him looking plural, so we kindly made it ‘Goose,’” whispered Indy beside Andy, adding a mood of romance with soft music from her headphones and heavy perfume. Made his head swim.

“No, he’ll get a chair, ha, ha,” said Goosy, taking Andy by the arm with one hand and opening the door with the other.

Andy quickly got into the agency groove. He learnt that whatever they looked like, ad people were almost human. They smoked and drank like crazy, and crazy ones didn’t do either, but they also slogged like hell to earn their keep. He was a good illustrator, and that was good. It compensated for his lack of ponytails or ear-rings. He got on well with Ashy, whose commands he treated like the ten commandments. Never broke them, when he executed the copywriter’s briefs.

“You are the max, Andy Baby!” said Ashy one day, after critically viewing an industrial pump illustration for 5 minutes.

“That’s the highest compliment he ever gave anybody,” whispered Indy sweetly into his ear, massaging his shoulder and ego. Advertising was a place he could stay in forever.

The day he really jumpstarted his designer career was when he did a logo. In publishing, illustrators were considered higher than designers, who were only layout people. Here, they were lower down. Designers were on par with writers, unless one of them becomes the creative director, and that usually was the writer.

“See, the concept behind an ad is the concept of the writer,” explained Indy to him one day in the office lunch room, “He puts in words, the thought and packages it neatly. He is the first to ideate…”

“Idiate?”

“Yeah, Idiot, ideate. Idea, ideate. Brainstorming is a group activity, Ideating is a solo thing.”

“Ok, though the word makes me puke.”

“Don’t do it here, people are munching their lunches. Like I was saying, the writer is the first to approach it creatively, and the designer comes second. The illustrators and finishing artists come after that. That’s where you actually stand, but as long as you’re not made of ambitious stuff, and don’t huff and puff at not being promoted, you can live happily ever after.”

“ But I want to make it big in the ad world!”

“Go, get an outside life. Paint and exhibit. Get fame and name. Then Goosy will point you out to their accounts and say, “We’ve got Andy, the famous illustrator to do your ads.” And agencies will bid for you, and pay you a fat salary, and you’ll get fatter and richer.” Somehow, her hands had got tangled up with his tshirt and were busily roaming all over his bare chest. But nothing came out of it except goosepimples. Vishy suddenly popped up over their table and announced, “Goosy Gander wants to see you after lunch, Andy Dandy.”

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