Writing about yourself can be tricky at the best of times. First person feels too self-centered, littered carelessly with the letter ‘I’. Second person feels anxious and filled with self-doubt. As if you’re talking to yourself in a mirror the whole time. Third person feels too pompous but mostly laughable.
Ordinarily, I would prefer this profile of mine to be displayed as an interview. But, these are extraordinary times. So, why not an interview with three people? The people within me.
Specifically, my Id, Ego, and SuperEgo. An inner dialogue that I hope will enlighten readers on the choices in my life, in an illustrative and entertaining way.
Cut to circa 2006
Id (I): Man, being a techie just isn’t working out. It’s too dull and feels like I’m working out of the wrong side of my brain. I want out of IBM, yesterday!
SuperEgo (S): What will people say? Especially, after you graduated in Computer Science Engineering from a hotshot college. And were one of the very few to be campus-placed with IBM.
Ego (E): Life is too short to spend 8 hours and not feel richer for it.
I’d agree with Id. Quit, quit, quit now!
I quit IBM cold-turkey to chill and chart the next chapter of my life.
Cut to a few months later
I: Listen, man, you have literally won every English essay competition (literally) since primary school, and with effortless ease. Also, you’re a clever thinker who has a quirky way of the word. There is definitely something there.
S: Yeah, well everyone is great in school. But, how good are you in the real world?
E: It’s time to find out. Advertising is the right fit for your perfect storm of method and madness.
I apply to ad agencies across India with my blog posts on culture, movie reviews (mainstream and arthouse), and poetry. Eventually, someone sees a spark that can’t be contained anymore. And hires me for Equus Red Cell as a consulting copywriter, leading to my move from Bangalore to New Delhi.
Subsequent ad agencies include W+K, TBWA, BBDO, McCann Worldgroup, Publicis, HAVAS.
Subsequent brands include General Motors, Honda, Pepsico, Incredible!ndia, IndiGo Airlines, Royal Enfield, The Economist, Fortune magazine, DLF Real Estate, HSBC, DBS, Taj Hotels, Makemytrip, Max Life Insurance, Zomato among others.
Nani Cinematheque Bangalore circa 2006, where my arthouse movie reviews came from.
These reviews composed a chunk of my ‘copywriting’ portfolio when I was starting out.
SSC&B Lintas at Church Street Bangalore, the first ad agency I approached for an internship
Ogilvy & Mather Bangalore, which finally handed me an internship in account management
Cut to circa 2017
I: I need a change of scene. Been in New Delhi for long enough.
The winters aren’t worth the trouble anymore. Need me a nice and balmy tropical city with an eclectic, electric art+culture+travel scene. Someplace like Barcelona!
S: You can’t move cities on a mere whim and fancy. Let alone continents. You need an offer that represents an upward move in your career, not just a literal one. Also because you’re not exactly doing great in the cash reserves department.
E: You guys are both partly right. Let’s apply to ad agencies in Bombay and Goa for now. The climate is tropical in both places, and Bombay also happens to the nerve center of the communications and the film fraternity in India. Once in Bombay, we can then happily continue our grand plans to take on the world.
In January 2017, I accept an offer from Fanatics and change to a Bombay address. But, the agency has to shut shop soon, due to unforeseen circumstances. Don’t even mention cash reserves right now. This mishap soon leads me to TBWA Bombay, for my next stint as a Creative Director.
Cut to circa May 2018
I: A full-time day job just ain’t working out. It feels like an unnatural, wasteful way to participate in advertising. I want out, yesterday!
S: Fair point, you’re also almost earning the same money from freelance side-gigs as your day job.
E: For a change, the three of us agree on something.
I quit my day job. And start chasing the fantasy of going freelance full-time. To this end, I’m indeed lucky that my work excites ‘The Copywriter Collective’ Amsterdam enough that they decide to represent me. Between their support and my network, I slowly but surely start hustling up a healthy dose of freelance gigs.
Then in 2020, RISE USA and SPOOL USA decide to represent me too, expanding my scope even further in the USA, apart from what I currently enjoy in Europe.
Cut to circa September 2020
I: I sense that we need to end this ‘Copywriter of the Week’ piece soon. Don’t want it overstaying its welcome.
S: Agreed. What do you think is the ideal way to bring the curtains down?
E: Yeah, why not tell readers about your precise repertoire of skills, favorite piece of work, and current client(s)? Let them take it from there.
1. My Services
– A Campaign Idea whose time has come
A choice of creative concepts for the client to cherry-pick an interesting, impactful campaign idea from. Once the campaign idea is agreed on, a choice of surround ideas delivered to the satisfaction of the client.
– Print, Out-Of-Home, and Digital Copywriting
Well-earned entertainment. Much-needed intermission.
A buy-in, not just a sale. On-brief, never-dull copywriting for print, outdoor, and digital/social media formats. Because consumers are people too.
– Motion. Emotion. Action. Scriptwriting.
You can’t move product without moving hearts. You can’t move hearts without a moving brand story that looks and feels like something the audience needs at that very moment. Poetry in motion.
Script concepts shared with the client. Scripts then composed of chosen concepts.
– Content content for a website, blogs, mailers
The art of painting a picture of words from less to more.
From curiosity to meaning. From wonder to satisfaction.
From a noun to an adjective that sends out a message of genuine contentment. Interesting, incisive SEO-enriched content for online blogs and e-mailers. Doesn’t include brochures, newsletters, e-books, white papers.
2. Favorite piece of work
A digital/outdoor campaign for ‘The Economist’ because I felt it successfully manages to capture the brilliance of the classic ‘White On Red’ campaign repurposed for the modern, digital age
3. Current client and scope of work
TEGO, timeless activewear for the everyday athlete, based out of Bombay, India.
Presently, I’m helping them refine their positioning for three new products, and craft launch campaigns for the same. Also, I’m working on upgrading the quality of content on their website, blog, and mailers.