I’ve always liked ads. Right from when I was a kid when we’d play the game where you guess the brand name in the first two seconds of the commercial. I almost always won. And like the annoying know-it-all that I am, always had to follow up with an explanation of how I knew it was that particular brand. It might be a random flash of purple [for Cadbury’s] or the first note of a really effective jingle.

Playing that game then was so much fun because advertisements in India are more entertaining and definitely more relatable. Because [at least in the 90’s] niche products that are so in demand now weren’t that visible. Commercials focussed on the broad middle class demographics who were price sensitive and yet very aware of brands that they used. Their eyes were open to the socio-economic image that brands represented. And that’s what caught my eye as a kid. The little things like how commercials zeroed in on a problem that it claimed to solve, or the shows they chose to sponsor or even just how a yellow background made white look less white, so they always use blue background instead for the cleaning thingamajigs.

So being someone who wants to know everything about everything, I’ve been reading up of advertising. The best that I can define what the ad people do is that they not so much create desire but tell you a story: starring you and that brand they’re peddling. They place it in a life similar to your own so you can imagine it as if it really does belong to you. And a good ad does this so well that you begin to actually miss this product/service that you’ve never owned in the first place. So you will seek that which you’ve unconsciously made room for in your life.

Sounds like fun.

Anyway, I was going through a couple of websites related to planning in advertising and stumbled across a Miami based agency CP+B, where this grabbed my attention [from their Employees Handbook]:

During the Civil War, there was an infamous POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia. Due to a wartime shortage of building materials, the camp had no fence around it. So to keep the prisoners inside, the general in charge drew a line in the dirt around the camp. He told the prisoners that this was the dead-line. And if anyone crossed it, they would be shot and killed on sight. Now that we know the serious background of the word deadline maybe we can treat our own deadlines more seriously.

Now I don’t know how much of that is true, but I’m of the philosophy that quality of the work trumps deadlines. Not always I’m sure, but I’ve never been in a situation where time constraints made me compromise my work habits. I’m not obsessively going for perfect but it’s always been sort of a mildly flexible finish-line for me. Even if that really is how the word deadline came about, then the context that we now use it in is ridiculous. Especially when I see people take the deadline as the constant and let the quality fluctuate. Alright, mini rant over.