Vandana Sethhi, Founder and Director – Water Communications, Mumbai based 360 degree communications agency recently addressed a group of students pursuing their Masters in Advertising at a reputed college in Mumbai. Being a woman, who has climbed the ladder of success through sheer hard work, her topic for discussion was ‘Women and Advertising’.
During her interaction with the students, she highlighted how women are well-suited for a demanding profession like advertising. She said, “Advertising is a people’s business. Whether you are on the client side or on the agency side, you have to deal with multiple people. Being on the client’s table, on one hand while you have to coordinate with various departments for information and approvals, on the other hand you have your agency with whom you are trying to set deadlines and pushing them to the wall to meet those deadlines. On the agency desk, you have a different set of people to deal with – your media guys and the creative gurus. While the media guys might still be rational to an extent, the creative experts have their own mood swings that you have to put up with. ‘We need time to think to come up with a great creative!’ But what is that time limit, nobody has been able to define till date. At the same time, you have your client breathing down your neck as the deadline has already gone by. So what do you do?
Well, deadlines, mood swings, long hours of work and much more – advertising is indeed a very demanding profession. While women have their limitations due to their dual responsibilities (home and work), they can yet make great contributions to this branch of communication. A born multi-tasker, a woman is well equipped to be in a profession where you have to handle multiple personalities and their moods. Her training begins right from the time she takes on her household responsibilities. Like in advertising, she has to deal with multiple people coming from varied backgrounds and professions – husband, children, maid, laundry man, electricians, plumbers and so on an so forth. Like in office, she has to allocate time for each activity ensuring that work gets done at the right time. However, at the same time, she has to factor in unwanted delays and have alternate plans ready. Also, most of these activities are ones that run parallel to one another. So she eventually becomes a master at juggling and completing multiple tasks together.
Besides, life is never the ideal picture. You may have a seamless plan on paper but things may just not work according to it for reasons completely beyond your control. What do you do in such a situation? You have two options – stand there and abuse to the satisfaction of your heart the reasons and people responsible for things not working or straight away roll up your sleeves and get down to work to get things going. Women are generally trained for the second option. For example, if there is a sudden breakdown of power or some plumbing issues at home, they usually tend to not panic. Rather, they will get the other members in the house at rest, call the concerned technician and in the meanwhile also make some temporary arrangements to make everybody present at home a little comfortable. Women bring the same traits even to work. They are better equipped mentally to figure out an alternate solution to a sudden crisis that may have occurred. It just comes naturally to them.
Women can also play the role of an efficient problem solver between 2 people because they are good listeners. Thanks to their exposure to multiple personalities on the home front, they know exactly how to deal with what kind of person. There may be people who are extremely sensitive and hence, you need to be patient and tactful with them. On the other hand, there may be people who are easy going and do not work unless there is sword hanging on their neck or there may be people whose ego needs to be massaged in order to get work done from them. Different strokes with different folks! A woman knows precisely which chord to strike with which person under what situation and she does it gracefully. Thus, for a profession like Advertising that involves multiple personalities, multi-tasking and a composed head over the shoulders, women make for an ideal candidate!”, she added.
It was an interactive session involving questions and exchange of views on the topic. Students actively participated in the discussion while Ms Sethhi answered their questions on what it takes to be a successful advertising professional.