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Guest Times: Where have all the writers gone?

Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Associate Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, is acknowledged as a rising star in the creative fraternity. He will be doing a weekly column for starting with this article. He kicks off with his favourite lament – that writers are becoming redundant in the advertising industry 

October 22, 2012

Bodhisatwa Dasgupta

Not very long ago, I wanted to test the waters outside the agency at which I worked. And thanks to a friend who knew a friend who had an uncle who married a Senior Creative Director, I had an interview lined up. So pen drive in pocket, and a certain amount of cockiness in my stride, I went to sell myself.

The interviewer clicked happily through my work, and for a minute everything was hunky dory. Till she came to a few ‘long copy’ ads. Now, like every writer worth his salt, I have a long copy section in my folio. Writers like them. And really, it’s the only proof that a writer can write. Ordinarily, a Creative Director takes the pains to read the ads. But this one didn’t. This Creative Director quickly clicked through them saying with an apologetic smile, “Oh, long copy? I’ll read them later.”

I didn’t stay long. I didn’t need to. I had come to test waters, and the waters, as it turned out, were murky,

There’s something very scary and eerie happening to our industry. Writers are becoming redundant. If you’re a Creative Director reading this, you know this to be true. Films can be written by art directors. Most ads nowadays are dictated by the clients. And when they’re not, all they require is a crisp headline and two lines of copy. Any donkey with its head stuck in its arse can write that!

Who needs writers?

Well, some do. Some creative heads still haven’t given up on the power of the written word. Some creative heads still believe in the gentle persuasion of copy. And for these creative heads, I sympathise.

Because, quite frankly, there are no writers out there any more.

You see, writers as a breed, give or take a few, are a smart lot. When they saw the industry was not going to need ‘em any more, they quickly evolved. The ones that didn’t, wrote blogs about children and guest columns and blended into a horizon of obscurity.

The evolved ones don’t call themselves writers anymore. Oh no. They’re ‘ideators’. ‘Innovators’. ‘Solution providers.’ ‘Unconventional thinkers.’ They’re the new cool kids on the block. And they speak a language that’s new and exciting.

It’s Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Yo-Yo all rolled into one. It’s ze language of India, I think it’s called. It’s what the youth speak, it’s sassy, meaningless, child-like babble, street linguistic wakudoki.

It’s effing brilliant.

And so far, it’s doing fine. Because advertising in India, like its writers, have evolved too. The profits are rolling in. The brands are flying off the shelf. The clients are happy because they don’t have to bother about shortening five lines of body copy (nobody has the time to read anymore too, right?) Impressive case studies are winning all over the world. Everyone’s happy.

If only for a while.

(Bodhisatwa Dasgupta (better known in his circles as Bodhi) works as a writer in advertising. Designations aren't important because he's realised no matter how up, how low or high middle he is, he just keeps doing the same kind of work. Bodhi has an opinion about almost everything in life, some of which he documents in his blog He also has a charming daughter, and when she's asleep, he writes at
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