Srijan wants to create work that will live on after him, letting him achieve immortality for some time at least. He strongly believes that the bigger role of advertising is the way it can influence the pop culture of any society
Sohini Sen | Mumbai | April 24, 2014
How many of us must have wondered about what to do in life? And how many of us must have chosen one, switched to another, and ended up doing something completely different? Well, as it so happens, this is the case with DDB Mudra's young Creative Supervisor, Srijan Shukla.
Srijan, all of 25, started working in 2010. His choice of advertising as a career came more from the desire to not do other things than do advertising. With his fondness for literature, reading and writing, this seemed like a good enough place to start. So when friends suggested an internship in an ad agency, he joined DDB Mudra and that's how it all started.
But within the first year itself, he claims, he got bored of writing, and decided to switch to planning.
“So, I thought of trying something else and after speaking to a few colleagues, I landed in the planning department. I was there for about six months and it was during that time I realised that I was not cut out for it. That was the time when it dawned on me that probably copywriting is the only thing that I could do in advertising! It was kind of an eye-opener. So, after speaking to my Boss (the planning head), I decided to shift again. And when I was looking out, my ex-bosses (from the creative team) asked me to come back. I must mention that it was really nice of everyone at Mudra to bear with my changing plans. Everyone was very patient. And so I moved back to the creative department and since then have managed to not change my mind again,” laughs Srijan.
Srijan likes to wear different caps, it seems. What with copywriting, planning, and not to mention his backup plan of turning a full-time poet. In his words, all he needs is the courage, understanding and the discipline to take it up.
Having worked on campaigns for Union Bank of India (CCU with Pankaj Kapoor and Home loan campaign), Ezone Radio campaign for Blind Fold Sale and Zero Margin sale, Godrej No.1 among others, Srijan's team has already won an Abby's Silver for radio advertising. Union Bank, however, remains close to his heart as it is a brand they have worked on since the beginning, making it grow and growing with it.
“I think the latest campaign for Union Bank of India (CCU) was good. We weaved stories around a middle class family and its aspirations. The beauty of the campaign lay in the honesty that was there in every story and also the honesty with which it was brought to life. The stories were sweet and simple. It came out nicely. Three out of five ads have aired and there are two more that should come out soon. I also enjoyed the Zero Margin campaign because on a low budget we managed to get the attention of the people through a very interesting radio campaign,” he explains.
Like all growing creative people, Srijan has a long list of campaigns he wishes he had done. But unlike many others, this keeps him going. He strives to make better campaigns so that others can look at his work in the same way he admires some of the creatives out there. And that is just one of the reasons why advertising is interesting to him. He is of the opinion that with the mediums that we have today, the technology available, one can do some really pathbreaking work and reach out to people in ways that’s never been done before.
“I think the bigger role of advertising is the way it can influence the pop culture of any society. And there are a lot of examples like what Nike did when it came out with ‘Just Do It’. It influenced American pop culture in a way that even the biggest films couldn’t. We say it all the time but advertising can actually shape a society and that’s huge. This is the power we have at our disposal. And it’s up to us how we use it,” he emphasises.
So what kind of work would he want to do? He has a profound answer to this. “I want to create something beyond just the ordinary ads. We are all trying to achieve immortality, be it science or arts. As creative people we get a shot at trying to do that. And I want to create something which people will remember me for.”
At the same time he feels that the industry is sometimes plagued by a fear of being too scientific. Sometimes clients are not ready to take risks with creative ideas and want to go ahead with tried and tested formulas.
“I understand there are huge amounts of money involved and we have to have certain processes to test an idea but we also need to understand the way advertising is consumed. At the end of the day if is not enjoyed, it’ll have no impact. As Bernbach said, 'We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mould it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.’ And I think it’s time we gave this a serious thought,” Srijan explains.
And like all people joining the profession at an early age, he feels the compensation structure needs to be corrected. There is a need to realise that there are a lot of other avenues that have opened up for young talent to practise their creativity. If we don’t compensate new talent, it won’t come to the industry. And the advertising industry certainly thrives on talent.
But he is sure, at the moment, that this is what he wants to do. He jokes, “I think if you ask anyone in advertising or any other creative field about what they want to do in future, you’ll only get one answer – create memorable work. Work that will live after you. And I think that’s what we are here for – seeking immortality through our work. I would be very selfish and say that I want my work to be extremely popular, so that whenever I go to parties or family functions I don’t have to waste time explaining what I actually do.”
Srijan sums up his experience with a tip to people who want to join advertising. He requests them to read Ira Glass’s quote on taste and how you can match your work to your taste. “It’s a beautiful explanation. It sums it up.”