Thursday, 26 April, 2007

Creative Chapsari

A client told my agency that a very well-known mainline agency offered to do their leaflets for Rs 1,100 each. He couldn’t understand how we could expect an amount several times that? We argued about specialisation, quality and the rest. Nothing cut ice.

We shouldn’t have. Instead we should have asked a simple question, “If you’re paying them Rs 1,100 how much are they paying their employees?”

Let’s take the minimum-strength agency, a copywriter, an art director and an operator. These three also fill in for accountants, servicing executives and peons.

And let’s say they split the booty in a ratio of 5:5:1. That gives the copywriter and his art partner Rs 500 each. The poor operator gets Rs 100.

How many leaflets do the creative talents have to do a month to make as much as a chaprasi, assuming the latter makes around Rs 5000, all inclusive? 10. That’s about 2½ a week, written, laid out, approved, art worked and paid for. Which is what most copy-art-operator trios normally do.

I’ll be the first to agree that the quick-math is extreme oversimplification. But would the great agency to admit to criminal undercutting? I wonder what they got out of it.

On second thoughts, in all probability it was the client who was playing dirty, using a rate out of a package deal to bring down the quote for a one-time fee. It was almost like asking a restaurateur to discount his breakfast because the hotel gives it 'free' in its 'bed & breakfast' package.

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