Once upon an ad…’

It is believed by most historians and psychologists that storytelling is one of the many things that define and bind our humanity. Humans are perhaps the only animals that create and tell stories.

Today, stories are an intrinsic part of our societies and culture. Movies, books, music, news media, religions, architecture and painting, you name it, and the influence of storytelling is visible in all aspects of our life. Defining our values, desires, dreams and as well as our prejudices and hatreds, stories are the carriers of emotions and archetypes. Traditionally, the oral stories were handed over from generation to generation. And that is the highway that knowledge employs to traverse eras.

My love for stories took on a deeper hue when I wore the author’s hat. The pursuit for a premise, a beginning, middle and end with a compelling conflict thrown in turned out to be more than just a creative process. While crafting the graph of emotions, my attention was drawn to something else.

With one hat on advertising and the other on stories, I was witness to the most prolific cross - pollination. With every new brief, the revelation turned more and more stark. I am reminded of the most apt words “You can’t tell anything if you can’t sell anything”. And true enough, I realised that advertising communication was no different from story - telling. In fact we are in the business of story - telling. It’s about whose story is more compelling and moving than another.

The long format ad films, recounting stories from life - be it the Google or the Lifebuoy commercial bear testimony to the fact that stories are replacing ‘ads’ literally. It’s about ‘what happens’ in any piece of communication. The ‘once upon a time’ is almost a silent yet omnipresent aspect of devising effective communication today. In fact marketing is no longer about the products you make but about the stories you tell. Stories of relationships, of struggles, of fantasies, of challenges, of utopia,of a world - view, of just about anything form the rich tapestry of content that can power brands in the new age.

And while craft is a prerequisite for story - telling, what’s even more crucial is honing the ability to ‘listen’. That one word encompasses being alive to the environment, to the world, to life itself. That’s the potent life force that gives birth to great stories. Or advertsiements! The Oxford dictionary has a new addition to ‘synonym’ for ‘advertisement’.

Author - Neeraa Maini Srivastava

The mysterious woman

It was just another regular night. I was exhausted and waiting to reach home so I could reincarnate into a couch potato; the only difference I don’t have a couch, neither do I believe in reincarnation. (So, yeah..) Just as I was on the home stretch, the cab app buzzed for another share ride. Irritated, I breathed in deep hoping it won’t deviate from the route we were on. But, Murphy’s Law was in its full effect that night and the driver changed directions.
The cab reached its location and started the wait time. So, we were at the location, waiting.
A minute passes by and the driver calls her and she says that she is in front of More. Confused, the driver takes a u-turn and ask people for directions to More. We end up just a few meters ahead of where we actually were. She got in the cab gave her OTP and settled in. Right then , an elbow jutted straight to my face and scared the indifference right out of me. She was just trying to wear her sweatshirt.
I ignored her and tried not to react but then she suddenly said, “So, what’s happening in your life?” Taken aback I didn’t know how to respond to her…. life is fine, my work is chill so yeah..”, I mumbled. (You see why I said that I generally don’t like mingling with people? My social skills aren’t one of my core strengths.
My new companion didn’t stop there and shot another question right at me, “Tell me about your relationship, family. How is everything?” Confused and also impressed by her brazen attitude and spontaneity I went with the flow and replied that my family wants me to get married but I’m against it. “I make my parents see how the guy is not right for me in one way or the other.
Then I kept quiet, I thought maybe she won’t carry the conversation further. But I was wrong I realized . This is not a normal share ride. But, who am I to define what’s normal. She continued speaking and said she does not like normal things rather she likes things messed up. She went on further by saying she likes purposely messing things up.
As she was talking about how she likes to mess things up, her voice drowned in my head and I began to imagine how she would take a knife and stab me with it and would blame the driver for it. Because this normal cab ride does not sit well with her ‘normal’ narrative. I had a poker face.
I put my imagination on mute and asked her, “Mess up…as in how?” She couldn’t give me an example for about a minute and then told me that she once woke up early at around 5 a.m. and just went out of the house for a walk.
My wild mind turned tame and I laughed thinking, how is that even messed up? But, keeping in line with my personality I kept quiet. After a brief silence, she creepily said, “You know what my husband is really cute”. I was at a loss for words. What possibly could I have said to that statement, I just smiled.
As I was nearing my destination, she kick-started my C.I.D fuelled imagination again by saying,“I want to kill that guy!” Baffled I looked at her and asked “who”? “The guy at the clinic, he’s annoying. I actually wanted to talk about that.” Now I was a minute away from my home, I quipped, “I can assure you that jail is not the kind of place you will like.”
I reached for the door and was about to get down when she said, “I think I would end up there as well”. As I unlocked my house I just wondered what just happened. Was she for real? She did get me curious.

Author - Aiman Sayed

Those 30 days

I joined Facebook sometime in 2007. Since then it has been a great source of entertainment for me, having been able to connect with a lot of my friends through this platform, I have also thoroughly enjoyed being a silent stalker.
Without getting into the details, let me tell you that there comes a phase in everyone’s life where they question themselves as to what makes them happy. So after a lot of introspection, I decided to stay away from social media.
What I learnt about myself after this decision is just amazing. It was not easy; there were withdrawal symptoms and tendencies to pick up other similar habits.
The clear environment revelation was that Facebook creates is linked to dopamine. And once you get used to it, it is not an easy task to get off it. Here are a few steps I followed during this time.
Tell yourself that for at-least 30 days you would be away from all forms of social media.
Delete the app or log out of Facebook , Instagram and any other social media that you are used to. This itself solves 40% of the problem.
Now, there is a huge chance that you might end up indulging in YouTube, Whatsapp or other similar platforms to compensate. Stay away from them. They are equally addictive.
Use your time to building real networks with people , call your friends, go out for a walk, spend time with family and friends or pick a hobby you enjoy (I picked a coloring book).
Stick to your decision no matter what.
Facebook innately is not evil, it is how we use it that is the cusp between addiction and entertainment. Now I am back on Facebook, but I have a control on how much time I spend on and what I want to consume. I still do not have Facebook app on my phone. That’s probably much time to spend mindfully with my loved ones. I enjoy the fact that I look at people when I am at a table and not peep into my phone. Life after those 30 days is still beautiful.

Author - Vidya Karnam