Today’s ad industry is all about business: Sanyal

08 May,2012

By A Correspondent


Title Waves, the new bookstore at Bandra, Mumbai was teeming with several old-timers who are associated in some way or the other with Sujit Sanyal, a former advertising veteran who worked with Clarion Advertising in old Calcutta. The occasion was the launch of Mr Sanyal’s debut book – Life In A Rectangle, The World Around 55BMirza Ghalib Street.


The launch was made special by the presence of Madhukar Kamath of DDB Mudra – an ex-Clarionite himself who was among the four individuals with an MBA qualification to have joined the agency when it was at the zenith of its success – who unveiled the book to the gathering.


Published by Fingerprint, Life In A Rectangle is a candid memoir where adman Sujit Sanyal narrates some revealing, some intriguing and other whacky stories about the advertising world from his Clarion days, his first agency, which he joined as a trainee and whose Kolkata branch he later went on to lead.


When asked on the factors that led him to script a book on his days at Clarion, Mr Sanyal said: “Life in a Rectangle happened while I was toying with the idea of writing a book on my formative days in advertising. The book is a fun reading piece that chronicles the advertising era of the 70s and 80s in Calcutta.”


On the choice for the name of the book, Mr Sanyal said that “the name for the book came from my mentor who said that all advertising that you see today are flashed on screens that are rectangle in shape, be it television, computer, mobile, magazine, i-Pad, etc.”


According to Mr Sanyal, what made him even more convinced to write a book on the agency with a glorious past is because at one point in time, Clarion Advertising was India’s No 2 agency after HTA (now JWT). “That was around mid-70s to early 80s. In the early 80s, it started falling apart due to differences between theUnion, the Management and the Board. In fact, the agency had seen downfall on many occasions and I, myself, was there during a couple of occasions. Once when I was a newbie and the second time when I was heading Clarion’s profit-sharing centre from Calcutta and I saw the fall from a much closer distance. So since I was writing the book, I said to myself why not add these bits of information too.”


Mr Sanyal added that there are just 2-3 people whom he has slam-banged, but the others have been given due credit for playing an influential role in his life. Highlighting the era of advertising that existed in those days also served as an inspiration for him to pen down his thoughts: “In those days, a man was judged by the way he used to hold his drink. But all that has changed today. I am not at all in favour of the pub-going trends of today where it is about ‘wham bam thank you ma’am’; holding your drink in a particular fashion was an art in those days. Also, we were unofficially trained on how to be a bartender. So if there was a client who came and he was drinking whiskey with water, it was our job to see that he kept getting his refills and not asking him on what else would you have. It was all great fun and at the same time you had to work too. The days of yesteryears were so much more exciting.”


Admitting the factors that have led the industry to undergo a sea-change, Mr Sanyal stated: “The advent of technology has made things a bit easier for everyone in advertising. The times have really changed today. Anyone who has a mobile and a laptop becomes a filmmaker and can do his own work at his own pace. But this has also led to things becoming more clinical; everything now has got into a box including media plans that are largely TRP-driven.”


Being direct, Mr Sanyal didn’t hesitate when asked on his views on the state of the advertising industry today: “The advertising industry today is all about business. There are a few legends who still are wowing the industry with their work but they will all go away.  At the end of the day what are you doing in advertising – you are playing with human emotions. Also, what is happening is that I may have a relative who is the boss of a big client company but he cannot give me the business because the diktats are decided by people who sit across the transatlantic ocean. In a nutshell, globalisation is taking its toll on the industry. They are not allowing the Indian agencies to grow.”


Still basking in the accolades that are coming his way from friends and family over the first book, Mr Sanyal is already tempted into writing a second book that may see the light of the day soon. If he were to go by suggestions thrown up by his friends at the venue, it would well be a book on his first job at Junior Statesman (JS, as it was popularly known), a magazine that was far ahead of its time.


Life in a Rectangle: The world around 55B, Mirza Ghalib street; published by Fingerprint Publishing; price Rs 395/-


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One response to “Today’s ad industry is all about business: Sanyal”

  1. Anwesh Bose says:

    Way to go Sujit mama!!! You rock!!