insight, office

Alcohol And Advertising

When I was but a lowly (pun most certainly intended) intern, I was invited out for my first drinking session by my boss (The King), my senior (Big Sister) and a senior planner who I’ll call Peg Measure.

So we landed up at Gokul, where The King and Peg Measure had gotten a decent headstart over us. We arrived, they called for one more bottle of Alcazar vodka and two more bottles of Sprite, and we proceeded to imbibe some alcohol.

In those days, I had a strict drinking rule – two, small, tall. So, two drinks down, I stand up and prepare to say my goodbyes.

That’s when The King gives me his “you better not be fucking with me” stare and orders me to sit down. Intimidated, I comply. He pours me a drink, slides it over commandingly, and says, “Bastard, if you don’t learn to drink, you’ll never survive in advertising!”

Six years later, I think I know why. So here are several reasons why advertising and alcohol make for strangely good bedfellows (not the type who wakes up in the morning bleary-eyed and dragon-breathed, not knowing who the girl sleeping next to him is).

1. It helps us overcome the pains of low salaries. Seriously underpaid, man. Here we are, working nights and weekends, sacrificing all we hold dear (including but not restricted to marriages, sleep, a life, peace-of-mind, friends and self-esteem), churning out ideas that earn our clients millions, and what do we get? A salary less than what the graduating IIM class turns down in disgust.

(Note to self: try not to write like Perry Cox talks.)

2. It helps us think. The next time you’re stuck for an idea and you’ve tried everything (including, but not restricted to, searching for images on Getty, searching for videos on YouTube, frequent visits to the loo, a round of Counter-Strike, flirting, walking around aimlessly and one more round of Counter-Strike), head for the nearest (cheapest – refer to point number 1) bar. At the very least, you’ll soon begin to give two hoots about the brief you’re stuck on.

(Note to self: please refer to previous note.)

3. It helps us handle our bosses better. When we’re drinking without bosses, we can bitch, moan and gripe, knowing that there are other people around who feel the same way. And when you’re drinking with bosses, you can get to bond with them and swear at them without fear of reprisal. What’s best, most of the time they’ll pick up the tab.

4. It helps us keep up with peer pressure. Almost every day you’ll hear someone talking about “how fucking smashed and/or stoned we got last night, what a fucking blast it was!” It seems like they’re living that whole cool “advertising” life and you’re just a boring loser who’d have been better off earning megabucks shifting money from column to column in an MNC bank. If you drink, you can swap a story or two and feel like a real part of the advertising fraternity.

5. It helps us drown our sorrows. From a creative’s perspective, alcohol can drown bad servicing and their bad deadlines, bad planning and their bad briefs, bad bosses and their bad judgements of what are clearly great ideas, bad clients and bad rejections, etc., etc.

6. It helps us celebrate. Farewells (“He was so great, we’re gonna miss him, cheers to him!” or “Yippee!! He’s going to mindfuck people at some other agency!!! Cheers to him!”), great sales results (the one time you can mooch off a client and make him open his wallet), annual bashes (where flirting can develop into something far more serious), increments (let’s blow up the almost negative increase in our salaries even before it’s credited to our account) – these are just some of the things we adpeople celebrate with single malt whisky.

7. And finally, to sum up, the greatest reason alcohol works with advertising people is that it helps us keep our jobs. Just ask my former Creative Director, Scary, who threatened to sack me every time I didn’t get drunk. Who cares for the recession if you’ve got your daaru!


3 thoughts on “Alcohol And Advertising

  1. King was a good guy; Lord alone knows how many young ones he nurtured.Anyway, sawaal yeh naihin ki how much money our ideas have made our clients, sawaal yeh hai how gften (if ever) does this happen? Yes, brands are growing and making more money than before (topline) but are they as profitable? Are our ideas doing justice to the talent we have? Are clients able to see & value this talent and reciprocating? MAny questions, and merits a different, lengthy and oh-if-it-pleases-you rant over a drink or twenty.


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