Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fifty not out!

Fifty not out seems to be a significant achievement for any current Indian test batsman if the recent South African tour is any indication! I think it is an achievement several times over for a voluntary professional body like the Advertising Club, Madras. Congratulations and may the Ad Club reach several more milestones.

Dedication the key word
Running a professional body is no walk in the park (unless you liken it to a walk in one of New York’s ‘friendly’ parks). It is a thankless job where people are slow to support and quick to criticise. If today my barber can actually count the strands of hair on my head without breaking into a sweat, that is largely the result of my holding more public offices than I should have. I have organised public functions with an impressive audience of 4 people – one of whom was the video operator and a secretary who wanted to propose the vote of thanks at the beginning of the meeting as he had another engagement later! It is against all this that one values the significant efforts made by the Ad Club Madras in regularly organising tea meetings, major seminars, workshops and annual awards functions. As if that is not enough the club has invested in a prestigious centre with a well-stocked library which must really help the smaller agencies. Nor can we forget the course on advertising which has some of the best minds from industry supporting and guiding impressionable young minds. The Ad Club Madras continues to set the pace for other Ad Clubs to follow with a regularity and an audience that others would be envious of. To do this level of activity regularly, efficiently and quietly, any organisation needs people. Dedicated teams of office bearers. People who do not forget the club once their term is over but who continue to guide, support and help. This enables the club to set high standards that other clubs are not necessarily able to follow.

Shock at Ad Congress
My first association (if you could call it that) with the Advertising Club was in 1982 (if my memory serves me right) and that began with the Ad Congress that happened at the Taj Connemara. And it set me on the back foot as I met Mr. S.R. (Mani) Aiyer for a job at OBM which I did not get. Surely the Ad Club had nothing to do with my rejection! But the Ad Club has been exceedingly kind to me ever since inviting me to speak on more than one occasion. And usually to large audiences! But more importantly the club’s “Future Shock” seminars have been massive affairs with a bevy of international speakers and local luminaries. These have been events that have given tremendous exposure to delegates from the entire South not only Madras. This year’s event too promises to be another interesting, insightful peek into the future.

And what about the Ad Club’s future? Whilst there is no doubting the tremendous future and role that the Ad Club is likely to play. I personally believe it has a far greater role to play. For too long the advertising industry has been Mumbai centric and I am not only talking about media coverage and bias here. Clearly it has been the advertising capital of India. But has advertising in the South been marginalised from a national perspective? That is debatable. But what is not debatable is that the South has certainly not received its share of attention or credit. How can the role of Chennai and the South in advertising in India be established? And the Advertising Club Madras has a significant role to play here. To correct impressions, mould opinion and lead the way for the entire South. And if the Advertising Club Madras does not do it, then who else can?
The author is Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO of Brand-comm.

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