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Ad land’s Young Guns: Surbhi Arora, WATConsult

An engineering college drop-out, a below-average tattoo artist, an average graphic designer, a decent client servicing person, an above average content producer, a good script writer, a PowerPoint genius. Surbhi Arora, Group Creative Strategist - North, WATConsult, binges on content that goes from basic to epic to outrageous just as easily as her playlist goes from Ozzy Osbourne to Eminem to Anu Malik. Arora enjoys human contact and civil ways for 5 days a week, while weekends are spent in her den reading, writing, learning, hogging and over-thinking stuff. 

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What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Surbhi Arora in her own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
I entered the world of social media in 2010. It was also Facebook’s year, where they overtook Google, which was great because all I needed was hope. So, there I was, trained in electronics and communication engineering, pursuing a graphic design and animation diploma, exploring her options in the digital industry and, digital start-ups were raging. 

Somewhere in the middle of last 7 years, which involved working with an array of boutique agencies as a graphic designer or an event planner or a content producer or as a client servicing person, I incidentally became a part of a pitch for a sexual wellness brand. I guess I found my calling when I saw this client conversion take place. I felt like a lot of things had to come together for this to happen, but hey, they did and I was a part of it. Everything, ever since, hasn’t been a casual choice, but a diligent move. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I am still figuring out the larger picture for myself professionally, given the volatile nature of our industry. However, if I had to put a finger on a particular skill set, it’ll probably be the tough fight I put up to tackle the two biggest demons of every creative individual, that is, brand guidelines and statistical data, with a doable, sellable and a winning creative. 

I feel that it’s incredibly important to echo the same spirit while training young creative warriors, that is, to always have a solution-driven approach that bridges the gap between what the client wants, what the brand needs and what will the consumer buy into. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
Every campaign, every creative, big or small, comes with its share of roadblocks. With every challenge tackled and every problem solved, there’s a sense of pride one feels while watching each campaign go live. However, I feel that the real deal lies in being able to bring about an intended behaviourial/ perceptional change through your campaign. Hence, I am always actively looking out for brands that would be willing help me drive the same. 

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
I usually look for inspiration in people. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and choose to be indiscreet with them more often than not. Hence, finding inspiration becomes easier when I make conversations with people around, who are full of life’s experiences. Also, while it helps to have data driven approach, I am also strongly guided by my gut feel and instinct as a vehicle to reach the final creative. 

It’s like being on Tinder, handpicking who and what excites you the most and then just going for the kill! It’s a different high, when you’re fore-playing with different ideas in a brainstorm and then you nail the brief while hitting the right spot with the creative, strategically, of course. Except here, I’m the one who’s always left behind asking for more. 

Other than that, I binge on content that goes from basic to epic to outrageous just as easily as my playlist goes from Ozzy Osbourne to Eminem to Nicky Minaj. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Oh quite a few, to name one would be difficult! I am a huge fan of people who don’t make marketing feel like marketing. My favourite part on any screen are the ads and I look up to anyone who’s able to penetrate the recesses of my mind with desires or belief through their creative. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?

  • Prioritise projects at hand and set realistic deadlines. I am not a huge fan of the last minute chaos, so it helps to plan, prepare and pitch a well-rehearsed creative presentation.
  • Solo brainstorming sessions. The industry demands one to be creative on a clock. It’s a mental workout regime that preps you for challenging briefs and tricky meetings.
  • Research, read, react, review. It lets you know what you’re not supposed to do, which is technically a job half done.
  • Socialise. I talk to people. A lot. It is the most real, reliable and credible source of actionable insights.
  • Choose my playlist each day, very, very carefully. Keeps the mood in check!

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Absolutely! Just beware of becoming a one-trick pony. You will need your unique style to make a mark here, however, the best marketable creatives in the industry adapt their style to suit the needs of the client. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
The same it takes to win a fight in the ring. One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
This industry is full of oddballs, so don’t waste your time here trying to stand out or impress others. Instead, work hard on yourself to become identifiable. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Bigger in name, stronger in spirit, better in health, wiser in my conscience and richer in wealth. (Fingers crossed!) 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Many in general, none in particular. It’s an absolute delight to be a part of WATConsult Delhi chapter, which hasn’t really made me think about any other agency/ organisation so far.

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