Why Kiss Is The Best Way To Tell

Have you been proud of your creative analysis and later figured you had over-thought and exceeded the brief?

When you think you’ve been very smart and anticipated appreciation. Even applause.

I have been there.

I was a student of mass communication. Among the subjects taught, my favourite was advertising, though it formed a small part of the curriculum.

When I enrolled for IIMC, my dear friend Sid (now Dr Sidharth Patnaik) who filled up the form on my behalf (because he was more careful and patient) checked the box for Advertising & PR. When the admit card arrived for the selection test, we were shocked to find Journalism mentioned on it. I was sure Sid had not erred. It had to be a clerical mix-up.

I was 20 years old then. When I was selected, I accepted it as a stroke of destiny and joined the course.

I was happy that advertising was among the subjects taught. We were lucky to have Siddharth Rout as a visiting faculty member, who had switched to teaching after having been an ad professional for nearly 25 years.

Rout’s practical experience helped in infusing life into his lectures. I remember the first assignment he gave us was to creatively compare and contrast two competing brands and what they stood for. He would come back the week after, by which time we had to be ready.

I felt I had a flair for advertising and saw it as an opportunity to show how good I was. I was delighted that my moment of glory was around the corner.

I chose Hero Honda and Yamaha and got down to compare and contrast the two players in the motorbike segment. A dear friend M V Ramsurya (a.k.a. Ramu) shared my enthusiasm for this assignment. He chose Colgate & Close-Up.

Ramu and I vibe well. Our frequencies match. We spent a lot of time with each other back then. We closed ourselves to the world the weekend before submission and indulged in deep thinking. Half a day later, when we had finished our drafts, we presented them to each other.

We were quite impressed with what we had individually prepared. We made small changes after a mutual discussion and were very happy with how it had shaped up.

Rout was scheduled to visit and check our assignments on Monday. On that morning, another dear friend Gaurav Patra met Ramu & I among other course mates at the breakfast table where the subject of discussion was the submission of the assignment. Gaurav had forgotten about it. It had slipped his mind.

He asked us if we were ready with our submissions. When we said yes, he seemed upset. “You should have told me about it,” he expressed with displeasure before leaving the room.

Ramu and I looked at each other and wondered how we were at fault. But that was for later. At that moment, what mattered was that our dear friend had misunderstood us and we had to quickly make amends.

There was still an hour and a half to go before our advertising class began. Ramu and I decided to collaborate and prepare Gaurav’s submission. But we had to be quick.

When we were picking the brands for our assignment a couple of days ago, the two brands we had considered and later dropped were Fiat & Ambassador. We decided to go with that and quickly put together a two-pager. That’s all the time we had.

Thankfully, the thoughts came quick and clear. We kept it simple. And short.

Minutes before the teacher came, we entered the class and slipped the sheet into Gaurav’s notebook. He was surprised at how quickly we had put it together. Could we have done justice to it in such a short time? I am not sure if that thought crossed his mind. He had little choice. Not submitting was not an option.

Just then Rout entered and asked us to deposit our sheets on his desk. He would look at them during the lunch break and share his views in the late afternoon class.

He covered a new topic before breaking for lunch.

Ramu and I were excited to hear what Rout would say about our assignment. Rout declared that less than a handful had got it right. He placed those sheets next to him and called out the names, one by one.

We were waiting to hear our names. Perhaps he would praise us, we anticipated.

The first name was announced. And then the second. We did not feature in either.

The third name did not include us too.

And now only one was left. Between Ramu & I, one of us could possibly make it. And finally, Rout mentioned the last name.

Ramu did not make it. Nor did I.

But indirectly, we both did. Gaurav’s was the fourth sheet Rout had picked from 32.

Gaurav was speechless. He tried to fathom what to make of it.

I noticed a faint hint of a smile taking shape on Ramu’s face after the initial let-down.

I had an uncontrollable urge to laugh out loud. But that had to wait. Till the end of the class. Gaurav, Ramu and I ran out of the class before we burst out laughing.

We stopped at a tea shop to compare notes. By then Gaurav had begun to feel bad for us. Ramu and I could not officially make it to the shortlist though we were behind it. It was our little secret and we had to bury it among ourselves.

A Lesson for the Future

Having joked about it, it was time to reflect.

If our draft for Gaurav made it to the shortlist, how did we go wrong with our own submissions?

The answer emerged soon. We had spent hours overthinking. From the USP to the brand personality, we dissected it much more than required.

When we worked on Gaurav’s draft, we kept it simple. And succinct. On account of very little time. The handicap had turned into a boon.

It was a lesson for the future.

Often, we over-analyse an issue, problem or situation. We get too much into detail.

“What would she think?”

“How would they react?”

The audience doesn’t care as much. You’ve got to make your point in the limited time you have their attention. Crisp and clear

Just KISS (keep it short and simple) and TELL.

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