Debit the creator credit the poacher…


The law of credit - What might appear at first glance, to resemble an elementary accounting principle, is actually one of the primary laws of the advertising industry business.Many individuals can attribute their entire career success and tremendous economic well being to their studious adherence to this fundamental law. But for those who have never quite comprehended it, life can be as thankless as the state of Indian seamers trying to pitch it short to Shahid Afridi.

"Be wary of who you tell what - because sometimes words contain the most sought after treasures," the Chinese voice whispered into Ram‘s ears, as he experienced the express delivery of the tea cup and Chai-La, the mystical Chinese canteen tea boy, made his ritualistic ‘gyan in a tea cup‘ transaction then disintegrating into an award trophy kept on the mantle piece.

Ram was locked in an intense discussion with Salienta, the new copywriter from South Mumbai, as she was called. She was doing most of the talking whilst Ram‘s role was largely restricted to providing those vital few words that kept her babbling, thus captive at his table, proportionately increasing his social image in the agency. Words such as
"And then?" Ram quipped in, seeing Salienta pausing for breath, immediately switching his mind off as she resumed, looking around while maintaining eye contact with Salienta at the same time (from the servicing manual - ‘flirting while on the job‘ section) Ram happened to notice Mumbles, the unusually reticent art director, gingerly making his way in their direction. Mumbles was an exceptionally quiet person and you only got a few words out of him if you happened to be standing on his bare toes with your running spikes on, and that too if all other visual forms of communication had failed.

"I want to share an idea that I‘ve had" murmured Mumbles, possibly having spent the entire morning trying to select those precise words.

Salienta looked at him with resplendent scorn, she hated being interrupted. He used to be her partner on most assignments but she never really believed in speaking to him on any ideas, "I‘m sure he is too basic to come up with any, let him just spend his time executing mine and maybe he will get somewhere‘ was her stand on the subject.
Ram was getting pretty bored with Salienta‘s monologue he needed a breather.

"Yes, Mumbles tell me," he encouragingly said with a smile.

Mumbles felt a warm rush of confidence run through his veins. He spoke in precisely one sentence containing seven words. (Given the secretive nature of big ideas and the awards business, the editor has censored the actual idea)

When he was done the impact of his words, even given his embarrassingly hushed tone was deafening.

"Wow" was all that Ram could muster.

Salienta‘s jaw had dropped with a loud thud to the floor attracting the attention of the President and Vikas (Ram‘s boss) doing their usual rounds.

Both were striding towards Ram‘s workstation purposefully when Salienta pulled herself together with the speed of an insurance agent landing at your door moments after you have agreed to a meeting on the phone.

"The line needs a comma in between and a full stop at the end to create a greater impact.. That way the reader can fully digest the message." She told Mumbles in the same patronizing tone one uses with a four year old.

"What‘s the matter? Any fire?" boomed the President in his enthusiastically euphonious tone, slapping Ram on the back causing him to choke on his tea.

"Salienta do you have something for us?" asked Vikas in his usual lecherous tone.

"Run along Mumbles get the layout and make the changes that I have asked you to," crooned Salienta, waving away the poor fellow to his table to fetch the guilty layout.

"I have just hit upon this amazing idea, you must see it, Mumbles has created the layout, I had to virtually dictate it to him you know, but I still want a few minor changes being the perfectionist I am" the emphasis on ‘I‘ was not lost on the group. In spoken terms it was the equivalent of bold, capital, italics and very large point size.

She then proceeded to elaborate the idea using around seventy sentences, extolling how it would connect with the consumer, why it was good for the brand, what chance it had at the awards and how winning an award would eventually help the agency.

"That‘s my girl, I told you this was a bright one," boomed the President clearly pleased that this was a very good decision that he had made.

"And we could use this creative on the Scam and Scum Times, that way we get a dirt cheap deal and we don‘t even need to involve client" added Vikas, clearly wanting a piece of the action.

There were collective whoops of joy that resounded in the corridors as Mumbles stumbled back with the layout.

"I say Mumbles you should come up with stuff like Salienta does, don‘t spend all you time in just executing other peoples ideas" said the President, cursorily glancing over the layout, "this fellow needs to add a little more style and panache to his work."

"Don‘t worry I will get a great looking ad out of him, you owe me lunch."

"Sure I do, lets go. Tell me aren‘t there only three credits for any awards entry. Who should they be for this ad?"

"Salienta, you and me," interjected Vikas, "We were all primarily responsible for this happening."

The other two agreed whole-heartedly and they instantly bonded in a ‘credits‘ huddle inspired somewhat by Hyenas‘ feasting on prey killed by the cheetah that was subsequently driven away by the roving pack of Hyenas.

"What about Mumbles?" asked Ram, feeling an imploring gaze from Mumbles emanate in his direction.

All the three ‘ideajackers‘ burst out laughing.

"Look at him, what would he say to the media? What would he say at the acceptance speech" analyzed Vikas.

"Besides he is only executing the idea, that‘s not what creativity is about," emphasized the President mustering enough authority to silence the doubters.

"Well maybe he can just be all the more inspired considering he has to work with an award winning creative person like me every day" cooed Salienta, gently nudged away her other two accomplices from the scene of crime towards something infinitely more fulfilling - Lunch.

Ram looked at Mumbles. He was in a shocked state of silence. Much like a person who has been robbed of both his wallet and his vocal cords at the same time.

"Why don‘t you tell PP?" asked Ram, referring to the handlebar mustached creative director of the agency, "He is on leave but tell him when he gets back, he is sure to take your side, he cant stand shallow people like Vikas and Salienta"

Mumbles just shook his head.

"I can‘t even speak when he is around. I get too scared." He whispered, "Besides this is the price I have to pay for the way I am." The look of resignation on his face spoke volumes. He trudged back to his place to finish off the layout

The secretary of the President came up to Ram, cherubically cheerful as usual.

"What‘s that girl Salienta‘s full name? I need to type a promotion letter for her"

"Salienta Steal, surname sounding like Steel as in the metal, but in her case you would spell her surname like a verb" he instructed the secretary with a sly smile.

Ram went back to his table to put in a requisition for some award forms, as he was typing in his request, his screen flickered. And some words began to form.

"Debit the creator, credit the poacher - ignore this fundamental law of credit at your own risk" these words materialized on his screen followed with their Chinese translations. Ram glanced at his hand to find a tea cup magically appear as his speakers boomed with Chai-La‘s maniacal laughter

The screen then went blank.

After stints at Lowe, Mudra and Everest the author is now with Triton as Associate Vice President Brand Services. In addition to that he is also patron saint of Juhu Beach United - a movement that celebrates obesity and the unfit ‘out of breath‘ media professional of today. To join up contact

(The views expressed here are those of the author and need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

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