Guest Column: Good Goats and Bad Goats in Advertising

Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Associate Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, provides his take – albeit full of barbs – on the self-important ladder climbers in agencies and the do-gooders who are becoming an extinct species

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Guest Column: Good Goats and Bad Goats in Advertising

Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, Associate Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, provides his take – albeit full of barbs – on the self-important ladder climbers in agencies and the do-gooders who are becoming an extinct species

November 26, 2012

publive-image Bodhisatwa Dasgupta

Hello again. It's Sunday afternoon, and true to tradition, a mug of cool beer sits within elbow reach. The mutton is simmering in the pressure cooker, the rice is wallowing in self pity. Somewhere in the background, Elvis asks if you're lonesome tonight.

Sundays usually mean I have to write this column – last-minute thing and all that – since it HAS to be published every Monday. Editors tend to have a dictatorial tendency at times. Just that, for the last couple of Sundays, I've been running out of topics!

And every time I run out of general things to ramble about, I tend to get a little personal (the beer helps of course!). So here you go, you bored web surfer, you fanatic of advertising journals, you frog in the well.

Good Goats and Bad Goats in advertising. Advertising is filled with self-important goats who like to gloat. And on a moonlit night, perch upon a boat.


Must stop drinking when I write.

There are good goats, and bad goats, and all-knowing goats and wise goats and nanny goats and ancient goats who refuse to die. There are goats with horns, there are goats who're horny, there are goats with beards, there are goats with keen eyes and sharp wits, there are goats with hooves and there are goats who don't move.

But drat it, I'm not going to talk about all of them. I'm no goatherd. I'll just talk about the Good Goat and the Bad Goat. And if I have time, about the goat that got away.

Let's start with the Bad Goat first. Evil fellow, this one. Hard to spot, since essentially all goats look the same. But spend a little time with it out in the wild, and you'll know it's baaaaaa-aaaa-d. Or whatever sound a goat makes, I'm not sure. I have already said I am no goatherd.

Bad Goats are scattered all around our offices, all around the world. They're hired by The Really Bad Goats Who Rule the World. Really Bad Goats hire Bad Goats, so the badness stays within the family. And both see eye to eye.

If you've worked for a Bad Goat, you'll know. This species is famous for doing absolutely faggarall through the day. They'll prop their feet on their desk and play a card game or two. When they've lost those, they'll sniff around Youtube looking for a film they can pass off as their own. Sometimes, these Bad Goats will come out of their gaseous cabins and strut around the corridors of the office. Although they just appear to be having a harmless walk and stretching their tired old legs, rest assured it's an elaborate hoax. This walk takes years of practice, and in fact, you're tested for it before you can be promoted to a Bad Goat. So goat, listen carefully. If you want to be a Bad Goat, this is what you have to do. Keep your head straight, and your eyes half closed. That way, nobody will really know where your pupils are. Then, plant a smile on your face so everyone thinks you're in a happy mood. Got it, so far? Good, now walk casually (CASUALLY!!) up and down the office, playfully slapping your juniors on the back. Now, between you and me and the Bad Goat who already knows, this slap is just to divert attention from what you're actually doing. And what you're actually doing is sneaking up on your juniors to see what they're doing. Because once you know, life is sorted. The poor lad will come to your cabin with an idea, but before he can narrate it, you interrupt him.

Roll your finger through your hair, and meditatively announce that you had an idea. You're not sure how good it is, but it's definitely a good insight. Then, narrate HIS idea. Yup! The poor junior is going to go away, tail between his legs, demoralised and suicidal. His boss cracked it again.

You're not a Bad Goat for nothing.

Bad Goats seldom have families. And when they do, they're not particularly attached to them. So they stay on at office, vegetating. And you know what they say in the wild, don't you? If the Bad Goat stays in Office, you have to, too. So what if there's no work, The Bad Goat will create some for you. He'll say wise things like “Nobody achieved anything in advertising by going home early”. Or even wiser things like “One day, you'll thank me.”

Bad Goats hate it, nay detest it, if you take credit for a piece of work you've done by yourself that's done good in the market. “It was a team effort,” he'll announce to the other groups at work. Funny how it's never a team effort if he cracks an idea. But then you can't question the Bad Goat. And you know why.

Bad Goats are smart. Smarter than the Android phones we have nowadays. They'll play their cards well (no, not the ones on the computer), they'll keep their clients closely guarded, they'll keep all the increment money for themselves. And boy, do they grow. Very easy to adapt to situations, these Bad Goats are a lot like chameleons, only less pretty.

But don't get so disheartened, the world is not all bad. There are Good Goats too. Few and scattered like the hair on Bruce Willis's head, but there it is. Thing is, Good Goats are a lot like dodos; in the sense that most of them have gone extinct. The ones that haven't, no doubt, will.

Good Goats, in more cases than not, have been taught and tutored by Better Goats. And through the years they've spent together in the ashram of traineeship, they've inculcated good habits. Teachings, if you will.

You know, simple things like 'Don't steal ideas from thy neighbour'. Or 'Be nice to people'. Or even the much raved about and written about 'Face it, you don't know everything.'

Good Goats are a pleasure to work with, days seem easier and nights seem shorter. Good Goats look out for you, and suddenly there's a Gaussian blur between the professional line and the family one.

Good Goats wish you on your birthday, ask how your wife is doing. They land up at hospital when you have a baby. They take you to a quiet corner and attempt to cheer you up when you're low. And oh, Good Goats know when you're low. That's probably because unlike Bad Goats, their heads aren't stuck inside their rectumia. Or whatever the Latin for ass is.

You'll find yourself growing in the most remarkable of ways if you're ever reporting to a Good Goat. Because they'll push you, prod you, head butt you with their wise old heads till you better yourself. They'll take your ideas into their mature little hooves and polish them into a glorious shine.

Good Goats don't get into the humdrum of daily politics much. And that's quite possibly one reason they're going extinct by the dozen. One would argue that if you're a Good Goat, you don't really need politics.

Wrong, as many Good Goats who've turned Bad will tell you.

Ordinarily, Good Goats aren't very ambitious. Which is to say, while they don't have dreams of owning big corporations and managing a string of cities, they do have plans of running away to the mountains and writing a good book or two.

Or perhaps running an NGO. Or becoming a gardener. Or being a full-time dad. Stupid, unprofitable things like that.

But as I said, Good Goats are hard to come by. So if you spot one tottering about somewhere, grab hold of their horns, swing yourself over and sit pretty on their back.

Perhaps you won't get a lot of money. Maybe you won't get to work on the best of businesses. But you'll be happy.

And as the old jungle saying goes, that's the secret of being a Good Goat.

(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