The Dum Dum Bullet (Adventures of a Corporate Soldier – Real-Life Lessons in Marketing & Advertising) is an interesting memoir from Sandeep Goyal, an advertising biggie who has been there and done that, and is still continuing happily with the good life at an international level.
Goyal started in the best way, wearing out footwear as a management trainee of Goodlas Nerolac Paints, where he learnt the rudimentaries of salesmanship plodding along small town roads in the hot dusty weather of Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Punjab. He also discovered that the basics of marketing are far removed from what is indoctrinated in business schools. During his interactions with the two advertising agencies that were handling his company’s account, he made some spectacular creative suggestions that brought in grand results.
Goyal was initially all set to embark on a career in the Civil Services after doing his IAS, but family situations dictated otherwise, and in order to be close to his parents in Delhi and to pursue a career option in advertising that he had long wanted to be in, he joined Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA) as an account executive. From then on there was no looking back, as he blazed his own trail through the best agencies in the country.
The fundas were soon in place and it is best to let him tell it in his own words: Advertising is a way of life. It is not a profession for the feeble-hearted. It is not a profession where the clock rules your life. It is a creative business. It is an intelligent business. Yet, it is a service business. Great ideas, great campaigns, all need a great amount of hard work. Also, a normal work day is not always about campaigns and ads. It could be work related to a measly sticker, an inane poster or even a laborious packaging artwork. It is all part of an ad executive’s daily routine…Also at the agency, there is really no hierarchy in the work you do. When there is a pitch to a new client, from trainee to MD, everyone may be up all night working on the presentation…So if you are headed towards an advertising career, forget the clock and forget ordinary yardsticks. It will be fatiguing, but it will be fun. Every day will be a new challenge, demanding a unique solution.
Goyal worked with Grey Worldwide, Mudra’s Interact Vision, became president of Rediffusion DY & R, and then moved to Zee Telefilms as Group CEO. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the three Dentsu agencies in India (Dentsu being the world’s largest advertising agency).
The book recounts his eventful transition and upward climb to success, even as he remained a very compassionate human being at the core of it all, learning from all the mistakes and slip-ups which he chronicles with uncanny frankness.
He also provides a very interesting reason behind the name of his book:
The original Dum Dum bullet dates back to the late nineteenth century. Produced at the Dum Dum ammunition factory near Kolkata, it had an exposed, hollow lead nose which ballooned out on impact. Come to think of it, advertising is no different. It is soft-nosed, focused on its target and it balloons on impact. Advertising is all about creating big ideas. Ideas that become part of the popular culture and idiom, changing forever the people’s relationship with a brand or a category. The power of advertising lies in creating an idea that captures the popular imagination and mints millions – lethal once unleashed, unerring on impact. In fact, quite like the Dum Dum bullet.
This is an insider’s view of the changing brand-world in our country over the decades, and introduces the reader to the many corporate giants who Goyal happened to interact with. The reader also becomes part of the crazy but unusually intelligent and exciting worlds of advertising and marketing and the corporate stage.
The Dum Dum Bullet by Sandeep Goyal