How to fight the good fight in advertising

From Bruce Lee to Arnie to Rocky Balboa

Let’s face it… Being a creative professional in advertising, whether as a Copywriter or an Art Director, is nothing short of being a consummate prizefighter. You’ve got to fight to get a better brief. You’ve got to fight to receive a bigger budget. You’ve got to fight to sell your best ideas. You’ve got to fight laziness and ennui and procrastination and all the ills that come with the territory of being a creative person. 

But fear not. The fight can be a good fight. It doesn’t have to be messy or have egos clash like the Titanic vs the Iceberg or King Kong vs Godzilla. Speaking of films, let the top five cinematic fight scenes of all time (ah well, there’s no definitive list, but you get the drift) teach you some tips to ensure what you fight for doesn’t burn any bridges. 

Fights. Camera. Action. 

The Dojo Fight from ‘Fist of Fury’

Bruce Lee, a bunch of guys and a pair of nunchucks. That’s all it takes for the one man army to bring down a dojo full of students. How did he do it? By staying calm, and just using his swift hands and fast feet.

So when you’re confronted with a large bunch of deadlines and clients all wanting them yesterday, stay calm. Don’t bring anger to the fore. Be like water. Use your swift hands and fast feet, but more importantly, use your cool head. 

The Bride vs The Crazy 88 from ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1’

A scene that cries murder as The Bride (Uma Thurman) scythes through O-Ren Ishii’s (Lucy Liu’s) gang of Crazy 88. Blood everywhere and not an ambulance in sight.

So how can one be inspired by this in our creative life? No, I’m not suggesting you need to annihilate the entire client servicing and client marketing departments. The idea here is to use a sharp sword of wisdom and experience when it comes to insurmountable projects. Be Hattori Hanzo. 

The Arnold-Predator Mano a Mano from ‘Predator’ 

Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his elite paramilitary team on a rescue mission in Guatemala end up needing to be rescued themselves; from the deadly, chameleon-like Predator, a tech-savvy alien who is hunting them down. The film ends on a gripping Mano a Mano scene between the two hulks, with Arnie winning. Moral of the story? Tech and AI can only save you that much. Use your creative brAIn. 

The Avengers vs Thanos from ‘Avengers: Endgame’ 

Iron Man, Captain America and Thor team up, in an explosive final showdown against their biggest enemy to date, Thanos. After the latter taunts them with a banger of a line that speaks of their failures, the three frontmen proceed to kick some supercharge/laser/Mjolnir action into Thanos. Yes, but what’s this got to do with creative? Simple. When presenting to a client, go as a pack. Find strength in numbers. Advertising is as much about selling as it is about creating. 

Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed in ‘Rocky’

Who knew boxing could be such an emotional sport? But let’s face it, being a pugilist is not just about the uppercuts and the punches, it’s also about throwing a punch in the gut. This rumble in the concrete jungle pits Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) against Creed (Carl Weathers) and sees the former taking blow after blow till the denouement in eight roller-coaster minutes. What do we creatives learn from this? Ah, that eternal moral… the real creative fighter is one who always manages to stand up after a tough fight. Gloves on, folks. 

But we aren’t done yet. One bonus scene and its learnings (we ad creatives always give more options, after all!) 

The Factory Fight scene from ‘Drunken Master II’

The scene is fairly simple. Jackie Chan uses his ‘drunken fist‘ manoeuvre to bring down two antagonists, even as he rips off his shirt sleeves with nonchalant ease. Why this scene? When all else fails in creative, give up the fight and drink. Then drink some more!

Featured image: Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

Shantesh S Row, Copywriter & Chief Creative Officer

Shantesh has 25 years of advertising experience — having worked on over 500 brands across agencies in Mumbai and Dubai. Currently, he is the Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Slant Agency, Dubai, UAE — which he co-founded in 2015. His work has been nominated at Epica, New York Festivals, Dubai Lynx and at Cannes WEF Creative for Good.Shantesh is a strident voice on LinkedIn — he has been ranked in the Top 200 Global Creators List for LinkedIn by Favikon in October 2022. He believes in sharing his knowledge with younger writers and creatives — a mission to pay it forward — which he does via regular copywriting workshops and mentorship. He loves deep conversations on films, music, food and cricket.

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