It hurts to be a foot soldier

Written by Prathap Suthan | Prathap Suthan | Updated: Jun 30 2010, 02:36am hrs
Its been a couple of weeks since we started off this initiative, and the response has really been enthusiastic. We are still very much a Facebook driven entity, and its going to take another week or two before we can do anything in real space. Registration, etc., are realities we have to deal with and get in order before we can venture into terra firma.

The last thing we want is any irregularity, however minor, to stain our shirts. Transparency, sincerity, trust, faith, etc., arent values that we consider loose change in our pockets. They will be the very currency of our existence.

This is not, I repeat, not a reflex or response to the bad press and other issues that made more noise at Goafest. We arent against Ad Clubs, or any other body that functions around advertising. Neither are we against anything that exists in Mumbai, Bangalore, or, for that matter, in Delhi. Theres already a Delhi Ad Club. And the last thing we want to do is to create any confusion. More importantly, and fluff aside, we are not about advertising. We want to be about communication. The whole iceberg, and not just the tip. We want to be the mothership, and not a mere rover. We want to be about individuals. Not another me-too ensemble of great networks, media or agency brands. We want to be about people from the planet of communication, regardless of your hometown. We want to be an inspiring and inventive assimilation of all the people who work together to create communication.

We want to give back to what grew us, and inspire the talent that will lead the future of our industries. In fact, look at advertising as an example. It used to be an industry where there was a lot of pride, spine and it brimmed with great minds drawn from everywhere to create inspiring work. It had money, it had the inclination, it had the sincerity to put money and invest in the people who broke their backs for it. But today, it is no longer the magical island that it used to be.

Its possibly the most selfish business going around. Theres just no learning coming back into people. How much more can you keep mining minds, without refreshing them Ask yourself this question. Just how many seminars and workshops and internal training programmes did your company organise for you

The annual rain dance at Goa doesnt cut it. Neither do googled PPTs that get circulated with much pomp. Chances are youd be very fortunate if you work for a company thats been systematically adding wealth to your brain.

If communication hacks into a wide knowledge base to unearth its ideas, we need to ensure that our personal reservoirs dont deplete. We must keep refilling and refreshing. To me, and all of us at TDA (The Delhi Alternative), this is the one single reason why we need a group to step in and at least attempt to resuscitate a gasping industry. Without a growing, vibrant and constantly searching intellect, we have, as a community, abdicated the right to stand up, dictate direction, predict trends and create new pages. Just how many times have we taken the backseat, and allowed clients to lead the way And more often than not, the returns from those pathfinders have led everyone astray.

We have to gain more knowledge. We have to immediately imbibe from everything and everyone around us, and go back to being what our industry was. We have to wander into this new world and wonder about all those dazzling sights and interesting sounds. If we have to find answers and communication solutions for the new world, we have to willingly learn and gain from the gurus of many disciplines. If we have to be experts in communication, then we need to know a lot more than we know now.

We need freshness. Our minds need newness. Many of our juniors havent read enough, or seen enough. And curious as they are, they are limited by insensitive, unthinking and blinkered organizations. They just dont get it that they have to part more than just pay checks. They just dont get it that the length and breadth of expression is directly proportional to the length and breadth of exposure. We live in a world of continuous and seamless fusion, and the communication industry cannot be bringing up the rear. We are terribly low on gas. This is the road that TDA is on. To recharge our cells, and do all we can as individuals to get us back to the leading edge of our industry. It hurts to be a foot soldier.

The author is national creative director, Cheil Worldwide.